May 21, 2010
The following is an interview between Drew Rutherford, UTsports.com, and Edward Jones, men's tennis player from Carmathen, Wales.
Q: How have you liked your first year at Tennessee?
A: The biggest thing I've enjoyed thus far is the team orientation. Last fall we still played on the team but there is a lot of emphasis on the individual. The dual-matches are amazing--we've had a few close matches, with Florida and Wake Forest--when it gets tight there is a little bit of extra pressure. But even if you are watching from the side it's amazing.
Q: You've played a big role in doubles this year with your partner Matteo Fago. In a few instances, you guys have been crucial in clinching the doubles point. Can you talk about how it feels to be in that position--to earn points for the team?
A: Sam (Winterbotham) reminds us every time we are on our court about momentum. If we go up by one or two, then we have to keep our foot on the pedal and not let up. We have an amazing doubles pairing at No. 1 and No. 2 and they win a lot of matches, so Sam tries to get Matteo and me to not look at the scoreboard and have the same attitude that the other pairs do.
Q: You alluded earlier about how you like the spring better because of the emphasis on the team. Thus far, what has been the most memorable moment for this team?
A: The Georgia match was a massive high point for us. We all ran over to Matteo after he clinched the match. But I think highest point was away at Florida. Davey (Sandgren) and JP (Smith) scraped out the doubles point after Boris (Conkic) and Rhyne (Williams) won and Matteo and I lost. They were down quite a lot and came back and managed to win. Then we went to the singles and our No. 1 and No. 2 lost--which doesn't normally happen. Then Davey came back and clinched the win for us. He was down and came back to win it and I think that was a pretty big team performance.
Q: The last time we talked in December, you said that you expected this team to have an exciting spring. Has that expectation been fulfilled
A: Yes, I think it has. We've beaten some of the best teams in the country--and hopefully we can keep doing that. We couldn't have asked for much more. We've only had one loss--that's pretty good. We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves and just take one match at a time. However many matches we have left will all b e tough. These are the top 16 teams in the country and they know how to play. We don't want to get to far ahead of ourselves and that's how we've gotten to where we are now.
Q: You could potentially have several rematches in the NCAA Tennis Tournament. What is it like to play the same team more than once in a season? How do you prepare?
A: If we were successful the first time, we prepare the same way. Playing someone a second time has its good points and its bad points. You know what they have and they know what you have. The more you can think about it and analyze the better. But Sam and Woody (Assistant coach Chris Woodruff) and Milos (Volunteer assistant Milos Popovic) are really good at getting us ready. They are out there on the court and they always know what to say to make you ready.
Q: One year under your belt, what's your favorite part of being a student at Tennessee?
A: I like to go to other sporting events. I've been to football games--those are amazing--and some basketball games and baseball games. It's fun to see people you sit in class with be out there competing. It's different from back home. We have thousands and thousands of people at these games and when I tell people back home, they just can't believe it.
Q: Did you have any 8 a.m. classes this year?
A: I did. I had badminton three times a week at 8 a.m. It was right across the street so I would roll out of bed at 7:55 and walk to class.
Q: Are there a lot of transferrable skills from tennis to badminton?
A: Not really.
Q: Well how did you do? Isn't there a tournament at the end of the class?
A: I won. So I guess maybe there are a few.
Q: As you said earlier, you guys have had some big wins this year. What was the best post-match celebration?
A: Our only big celebration was after the Georgia match. We ran back to the locker room screaming and shouting. We started dancing around the locker room. Then all of the sudden Sam comes in and he starts dancing on the tables with us. Next thing I know, Sam rugby tackles me because he is overwhelmed that we won the SEC.