Illini football players volley at Atkins, exhibition match keeps crowd smiling

By Jim Shay Daily Illini

January 28, 2008

Champaign, IL (UWIRE) -- he raucous crowd that packed Atkins Tennis Center last Friday was treated to an interesting exhibition match following doubles play.

While the men's tennis team took a breather from their battle with visiting No. 1 Virginia, Illini football players took to the courts.

Linebacker Brit Miller worked the crowd while quarterbacks Juice Williams and Phil Haig faced-off against offensive linemen Eric Block and Jack Cornell.The two gunslingers prevailed 6-3 in a match that proved the players are certainly better suited for play on the gridiron and not the tennis court.

Williams chalked up his performance to a severe lack of experience.

"I've played tennis one other time and that was this time last year, and I was terrible," Williams said.

"I didn't keep the ball in play one time last year. I did a lot better this year."

Haig, who boasts three all-conference honors in tennis from his high school days, played the role of ringer for the quarterbacks.

The freshman landed a couple of strong serves that overpowered the linemen, though Block and Haig did exchange some impressive volleys.

"Eric Block did a very nice job with the serves and forehands and volleys," Haig said. "And Jack ... yeah, he was there too."

There was a certain level of competitive spirit in the exhibition, with some friendly verbal jabs coming from both sides of the net.

"I'm not going to lie, Eric Block did well today," Cornell said.

"But Phil Haig has a reputation of being an all-universe tennis player back in the great state of Minnesota, where I guess tennis is king."

In the end, Haig's experience and Williams' slight improvement was enough to seal a win for the quarterbacks in front of roughly 1,200 people in attendance.

"I thought it was complete domination," Haig said.

(C) 2008 Daily Illini via UWIRE



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