Jan. 27, 2010
Freshman Edward Jones became one of five Tennessee freshmen to make his dual match debut last week at Goodfriend Tennis Center in very successful fashion.
The fifth-ranked Vols pulled off 7-0 shutouts against ETSU and Chattanooga to open the season. Jones and three other freshmen were in the singles lineup against Chattanooga, with Jones winning 6-4, 7-6 against Chris Smith at the No. 4 position.
Jones and redshirt freshman Max Stevens were the only doubles team to play in both matches, winning from the No. 3 spot against ETSU and the No. 1 position against Chattanooga. They played together in two tournaments to wrap up the fall season, including the ITA Ohio Valley Regional Championships, and have improved their record to 5-2 as a pairing.
In addition to his first dual-match wins, Jones experienced another -- remarkably less important - first: playing tennis with a shaved head. He wasn't alone in that category. Nearly the entire team stepped on the court Saturday morning with significantly less hair than they'd had the day before.
Jones, a native of Carmarthen, Wales, discusses his first dual matches, the Australian Open and haircuts in this week's Q&A.
Q: You've played in a lot of matches for UT, but you hadn't played a dual match until Saturday. How was the experience different?
A: We came out over an hour before the matches started to warm up. I was already a little bit nervous. I had a little idea what it was going to be like, but through our warm-ups, more and more people started turning up. We had the music going. You could see how much people were focusing out there, and see how of a really, really big deal the whole thing is.
I was lucky enough to play a part in both matches. I loved it. It was fun. We had some good support. I was surprised at how many people showed up to watch.
Q: You and Max started playing doubles together towards the end of the fall and picked up two wins Saturday. What makes you guys good at playing doubles together?
A: Because we get along so well off the court, we feel relaxed with each other on the court. We can say whatever we want to each other on the court, and we know it's not going to have a negative effect on one of us. We both want to do the best for each other, whether it's on court, in the classroom, or just in general life.
We served pretty well on the weekend. I think that helps. Most of it is how we get along though.
Q: Against UTC, you had four freshmen in the lineup. What does it mean to go out and win like that?
A: It just shows how good a squad we've got from Number 1 to Number 12 or 13. UTC wasn't the strongest team, but it was still a challenge. We all had another opportunity to go out and show that everyone do their part and help out throughout the season, whether against weaker teams or stronger teams. Whoever gets chosen on the day is going to give 100 percent, whether it's J.P. or me, Max, Bryan or someone else.
The fact that we had four freshmen, it was good. We're all going to be here hopefully for four years at Tennessee. If we can win now, we can hopefully do a lot more later.
Q: You've been here a semester now. What part of your game do you think has improved the most?
A: I think moving forward, coming into the net. Sam's been trying to get me to do that a lot in singles, and I think it's helped me in doubles as well. Obviously, you're always coming forward in doubles, but if you do it in singles and in practice, it's definitely going to help in doubles.
Q: The fans want to know: what's the story behind haircuts?
A: We were in Calhoun's the night before our matches. It wasn't too late; we were just having dinner, a few of us. There were two or three guys there who'd already done it. We all spoke about doing it before, and only a couple people did it. Someone just chucked it out as a joke, and it clicked. We all decided we should do it that night.
We got everyone together in mine and Rhyne's room. Davey, being himself, decided he'd do everyone's hair, so we all took our turns in the seat. One after the other, the hair went. It all ended up on mine and Rhyne's floor, and I'm sure that more than half of it is still there. The vacuum clogged up.
It's the first time I've ever shaved my head. It feels a lot better playing. I don't have to keep flicking my hair to the side between points.
Q: Last one. Who are you taking to win the Australian Open?
A: Being a Brit, I'm going to go Murray. I don't want to not back him. He's got to win a Major soon. Hopefully, anyway.