March 7, 2012
BY MATT MAGILL
Sophomore Colton Norton and the rest of the Vols have appreciated the transition to the outdoor courts at Barksdale Stadium as the SEC season gets underway.
Norton, who walked on to Tennessee as a freshman, is now in his second season in the Tennessee program while also balancing the demanding class schedule as a biology major.
The Jackson, Tenn., native talks chemistry class with Hunter Reese, getting in his video game reps, and his favorite ping-pong rivalry in this week's tennis Q&A.
Q: As Hunter just shouted for you to tell me, why don't you just go ahead and talk about your doubles success with Hunter this summer?
A: That was just something over the summer we played this summer. I played some doubles with Reesey and we won a few rounds at this tournament, but he was just messing around.
Q: It's a gorgeous day today and you guys are moving outdoors at home this weekend. Do you prefer indoors or outdoors?
A: For me, I'm probably more of an outdoors player because it fits my game better. I'm not really the big hitting type. I scrap a little bit more so I generally prefer the outdoor.
Q: Is there anything unique about playing outdoors as opposed to indoors?
A: The most obvious difference is the conditions. The wind affects the ball a lot and indoors is better for the big ball-striker kind of player. Outdoors maybe you have to think a little more because you have to take the other conditions into account.
Q: Growing up in the state of Tennessee, did you ever anticipate coming here and being an SEC athlete?
A: It's kind of a misnomer growing up in Tennessee. I'm actually closer to some SEC schools in Jackson, Tenn. than I am to here, but I've always been a UT fan. Growing up, I always thought it would be great to be an SEC athlete, particularly a UT athlete. I'm loving it.
Q: Everyone on the team has always said you're one of the smartest players. Are you?
A: Yeah, I guess so. My GPA is pretty high right now. I get my studies done usually.
Q: Is there anyone on the team that is your intellectual equal?
A: I don't want to offend anybody. We have a lot of bright guys on the team. I'm in chemistry with Hunter Reese right now and we're both doing really well. Reesey's a smart guy. Peter is a smart guy. There's a lot of bright guys on the team.
Q: How do you keep your grades so high with what basically amounts to a full-time job?
A: I would just say it's really important to manage your time. It's hard to go back and study when you're tired, but it's something you have to do. It's really important to know what each different teacher demands of you. One thing I notice a lot of people do is they do too much for something they didn't need to do to get a certain grade. So knowing what you have to do and getting that done.
Q: What would you say to people who question why you would be out here playing tennis when you could do a lot of other things with your time like schoolwork?
A: It's one of those things where if you're an outsider looking in, you might have that perspective that I'm doing all this work when I don't have to be. Once you're part of it and have experience it, I don't think many people would ask that question. You get really close to all the guys. Even though I'm not out there in the dual matches right now, I still enjoy being part of the team and supporting everybody. It's a really good atmosphere.
Q: Not only are you considered one of the smarter guys, several people have referenced you as the best video game player on the team, especially when it comes to FIFA. ?
A: Like anything, you have to put in hours of work to be good. Gaming is just like anything else. I've definitely put in my fair share of time between tennis and studying. We play a lot of FIFA. I am the best at FIFA; I won't shy away from that one. I play a lot with Ed. Bryan has been stepping up his game lately. I play a lot with Trym, but he just takes it pretty badly.
Q: Trym revealed the penalty system, but now I've heard your mom is mad at Trym for being so bad. ?
A: Recently, Trym revoked the penalty system because it's been destroying him. He brought it in and realized how big of a mistake he made after a few times of calling my mom. I actually beat him 11-0. You should probably put that in there because it's pretty funny. The system is really funny. We should probably find some new rules because we've abused that system. Maybe we'll find some new ones that will be more creative.
I haven't ever gotten a bow out of Trym yet because it's never just 3-0. I might sit on my lead one day and make him bow. I've gotten plenty of Facebook apologies. He actually owes me for 11-0. I don't know how we'll get that to work.
Q: Everyone says you've been ranked fairly high, too. How high have you climbed in the rankings?
A: I've been around 600 in the world in FIFA 12. I guess it might not sound so epic, but there's a lot of people who play FIFA so I'm proud of it.
Q: Are you as good as those people who make the YouTube videos?
A: Those are kind of weak sometimes. I'm not a fan because they could be playing on a low setting or have some guy messing up on purpose. I think I can take most of those guys.
Q: Hunter said you were great at NCAA Football as well. ?
A: I played a lot of NCAA and Madden. Recently, I got tired of that. The last few years I've been playing a lot of FIFA. We don't really play football so much amongst the guys, but I've played my fair share.
Q: Have you ever used video games to teach some of the guys American football?
A: Actually, I was playing Madden recently and Trym, who knows nothing about American football, so I did teach him some basics like four downs and 10 yards. I think most of the other guys know.
Q: What's the longest marathon session you guys have had as a team on games?
A: I would say three or four hours. We don't exactly have time to pull off an eight-hour marathon. I can't play that long. 3-4 hours has been done before.
Q: What's your offseason training regimen for games?
Do you make sure you get your reps in?
A: That was the team record. On my own, it can get pretty lengthy. I'm not sure I want to say a number because it might get kind of embarrassing.
Q: A man of many skills, you're also one of the better ping-pong players. I know you just got a team table. ?
A: I played a lot at home with my little brother who is really good as well. Chaps likes to think he's better than me, but I've never lost to Chaps before. Ed's good. We have some close battles. I would like to think I'm up there. Libeats is good. He beats me most of the time. I can get one off of him every now and then. Libeats is the only one who consistently beats me.
Q: What's the best ping-pong rivalry on the team?
A: It's always amusing to watch Chaps because of all the antics. Chaps against anyone is funny. In terms of ability, me and Libeats is the best rivalry.