Though the record of the Lipscomb men's tennis team (2-9) might indicate that they have gotten off to a slow start this season, on an individual basis this is not necessarily true.
One example is David Carrillo, a sophomore from Abilene, Texas. Carrillo's record stands at 7-3 with his last win clinching the match against Creighton for the Bisons.
Carrillo is a Biology major who enjoys reading and playing the saxophone and guitar in his spare time. After college he plans to "attend medical school, marry a beautiful woman and begin a career specializing in some area of medicine."
Carrillo did not begin playing tennis until the age of 15.
"I chose tennis because I was too short to play anything else," Carrillo said.
Even with the late start, he was almost immediately successful, winning the 2003 Most Valuable Player Award for Cooper High School and several sportsmanship awards, among other honors.
"I consider my biggest accomplishment to be receiving the opportunity to play Division I tennis, especially after I got such a late start," Carrillo said.
Perhaps one reason Carrillo is playing at the level he is today is because of the direction of a man named Jimmy Cole, who was his first private instructor.
"He was like a second dad," Carrillo said.
Another person who has had a particular influence on him is pro-player Marat Safin.
"I try to model my game after Marat Safin," Carrillo said. "He has a power-type game and hits everything hard."
Carrillo believes that the keys to his success this season have been his speed and consistency.
"I have been more successful at keeping the ball in play and not making many mistakes," Carrillo said.
His doubles partner Colten Jones agreed.
"David's game is more consistent this year," Jones said. "He's the kind of guy that likes to `grip it and rip it,' but I think this year he is choosing his moments a little more carefully, which has made him a better player.
"Also I think David is simply a smarter player than he was last year. When you play smart, you play more consistently. It gives the team a lot of confidence to know that we can plug David in at number five or number six and have a really good shot at winning that match. When you are a deep team like we are without a real `stud,' it is important to win at the number four, five and six spots. Not to say that we never win up top, because we have, but depth is certainly our strength."
In addition, Carrillo has an excellent serve and forehand which have contributed to his success.
Andrew Harris said, "Certainly the difference between David this year and last year is his forehand. He has really started to develop his forehand into a weapon which has been a great asset to him this season."
Carrillo's coach Lynn Griffith shared similar thoughts.
"David has had a good season thus far for these reasons," Grifith said. "His forehand is `pure smoke.' He can hit winners from just about anywhere in the court. If he has a weakness in his forehand, it is that it is so good sometimes he rushes to end the point. Also, he has a `bulldog' attitude. He is a fighter on the court. The rest of his game is good, but with his forehand and his bulldog attitude, he is doing great."
Jones said, "David's strengths are his serve and his forehand. He can really pop his serve when it gets going, and his forehand is also dangerous when he is focused. He is not afraid to go for the kill early in the point, so that definitely makes him tough to beat when he is playing well."
Carrillo attributes much of his success to learning from teammates Jones and Mike Sherman.
"Their consistent style of play wins matches," Carrillo said. " So I try to model my game in a similar manner to be successful."
In addition to his success on the tennis court, Carrillo works hard in the classroom. He was named an Athletic Scholar as a freshman and hopes to earn the honor again this year.
Perhaps even more meaningful than all of his accomplishments on the tennis court is an observation his coach made.
"David is a good person as well as a good player," Griffith said. "I know he has a good heart. He loved participating in the tennis clinic we did for the YES kids in the fall. Also he always answers `yes sir' and `no sir.' He does have some parts of his game that he needs to improve on. I hope to see him improve his game, graduate and become a productive part of society."