May 14, 2013
URBANA, Ill. -- After a late arrival Monday night, the Vols finished their first full day of training for the NCAA Tennis Championships on Tuesday at Atkins Tennis Center.
Coming off their heart-stopping 4-3 win over Clemson to advance to the final site, the seventh-seeded Vols (25-8) still have one more practice day before taking on Mississippi State on Thursday at 1 p.m. Eastern.
Here are some news and notes from the day:
URBANA: TAKE THREEThe Vols are back at Illinois for a third time this season. This visit, of course, is the most important one, because the blue-on-blue courts are serving as the national stage.
Tennessee has played more matches at Illinois this season than any of the final 16 teams. The Vols are 3-0 inside Atkins Tennis Center, having traveled through snow to the courts in back-to-back weeks during the indoor season.
The Vols were a part of Illinois' group for the ITA Kick-Off Weekend and came away the winners, beating Illinois 4-0 and North Carolina 4-1 to punch their tickets for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. A week later, the Vols drove back and swept Illinois a second time, 4-0.
AN ALL-AMERICAN ON THE TRACKThe Vols' first practice at Illinois was broken into three parts: a morning hit and doubles practice on the main courts, a conditioning run on the track and then singles point play after lunch.
When the Vols walked from the courts to the track, they met former Tennessee track All-American Adrian Wheatley, who ran for the Vols from 1999-2001. Wheatley is in his first season as Illinois' sprints and hurdles coach and helped the Vols get a couple spare lanes on the track while the Illini runners were training.
During his time in Orange and White, Wheatley was a three-time All-SEC performer and earned All-America honors in 2001 and 2002.
BEEN THERE BEFORESenior Edward Jones is the only Vol entering the tournament with final site experience. He was on court during the Vols' journey to the title match in 2010 (Athens, Ga.) and played singles and doubles on the 2011 quarterfinal team (Stanford, Calif.)
Jones' career record in NCAA play is 3-2 in singles and 10-1 in doubles. Last weekend in Knoxville, he went 0-1 in singles and 2-0 in doubles.
MORE AWARDSThe ITA regional awards were released Tuesday, and the Vols bagged three honors from the Ohio Valley Region. Sam Winterbotham was named the coach of the year, Chris Woodruff was the assistant coach of the year and Mikelis Libietis was the player to watch.
WEDNESDAY'S SCHEDULEThe Vols are set for another hit at Illinois on Wednesday in their final full day of preparation before their rematch with Mississippi State. Another highlight of the day with be the customary team banquet.