Improvement is the name of the game in Tennessee athletics this week, from football to women's golf.

Upon finishing ninth in their first tournament of the season, the Cougar Classic, the Lady Vols are looking to make adjustments mentally and physically to defend their turf when they host the Mercedes-Benz Championship this Friday at the Cherokee Country Club.

Last week, the Lady Vols gradually improved in the tournament's three-day span, climbing from 13th to ninth place in the 20-team tournament.

"We came back a little bit the last day and had a solid round, which was nice to see, but we dug ourselves a little bit too big of a hole in that first round, so we just couldn't climb up far enough," Lady Vols head coach Judi Pavon said of last week's performance.

The team eagerly anticipates playing at home this week, and intends to learn from the rocky start to the season.

Tennessee finished fifth out of the eight SEC schools in the field in the Cougar Classic.

"We want to win and we always like to be really competitive at home and give ourselves a chance to win," Pavon said.

"In the field we have, there are a couple tough teams coming, but I think that if we can play our best and not make the mistakes we made last week, we have a good chance to come out on top. In order to do that, we need to hit lots of greens, play the par threes well, and make some birdies on the par fives."

In order to do these things, two of the players the Lady Vols will rely on this week are Chessey Thomas and Hannah Pietila, who both led the team in the Cougar Classic and are focusing on carrying the confidence into this week.

"I really didn't do anything too poorly," Thomas said of her opening tournament. "I played steady all week, so to finally get it going a little bit the last day brought just a little extra confidence."

One thing the team admits needs improvement is performance in the short game, and attempting fewer putts will impact the team's overall score drastically.

"My putting has always been my Achilles' heel, and my game needs to improve," Thomas said. "When you hit a lot of greens, you've got to two-putt, and that's kind of been my weakness as of late, so a little extra focus on that the next few days and it should be good to go."

The team is optimistic, knowing full well what they need to do in order to succeed.

"Positives to take into this tournament would be just to stay calm and try to play better the first day so we can all be in it, instead of putting ourselves out of it the first day," Pietila said. "That, I think, is really huge and that's what the coaches are telling us."