NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Lipscomb Bisons tennis team has been tested this season by some top competition.
Each week they have seen improvement though that hasn’t always been measured simply by wins and losses. The Bisons split matches last weekend, losing 4-0 at Vanderbilt and beating North Alabama, a Division II team 7-0.
Junior David Salazar, playing in the No. 1 spot for the Bisons, won his match with North Alabama 6-3, 6-3. He teamed with Oliver Strecker to also win a doubles match by a score of 8-3.
“We have been playing harder schools, but we been improving in every aspect,” Salazar said. “We are focusing on continuing to progress and getting ready for Atlantic Sun Conference matches.
“We have a more team-oriented mindset. No one is thinking for himself. It is all about the team. We are training not just to get better but to get the person next to us better. That is very important.”
Salazar credits the team approach to the seniors on the team the year he came to Lipscomb as a freshman - Joe McArdle, Mario Hernandez and James Murrell.
“We do everything together,” Salazar said. “We practice together. We work in the weight room together. We eat together. Just being together helps us a lot to be a better team.”
Even though the players have formed a close-knit team each one brings a different skill set to the court.
“Every guy on the team knows what he is good at doing,” Salazar said. “We can’t just change the way we play overnight. We just have to practice at what we are best at doing.
“I am best from the back. I am really fast. I try to get to every ball. I try not to miss. I don’t want to waste my opportunities.”
This weekend the Bisons, 2-3, travel to Murray State at 10 a.m. Friday in Murray, Ky. They return to the Lipscomb campus Saturday at 1 p.m. to face Texas-San Antonio at the Huston-Marsh-Griffith Tennis Center.
“We never go into a match thinking we are going to beat the other team,” Salazar said. “We always expect every match to be tough.
“Every point counts. Every match counts. That is the mentality we have to have in each match.”
Salazar was first introduced to the game of tennis at the age of 4 by his father, Agustin, who played at Texas-Pan American and also was a member of Mexico’s Davis Cup team.
“I hated it,” Salazar said. “I quit the first day.
“My Dad was really strict. He kept on telling me not to miss the ball. I worked with him that one day and decided I didn’t like tennis.”
But one of his three brothers, Jorge, prompted Salazar to become more interested in the game and at the age of 16 he became a serious tournament player.
“My brother was No. 1 in Texas when he was 10,” Salazar said. “He was traveling all over. I decided I wanted a taste of that.
“I started traveling all around Texas, South America and Central America playing. I started home schooling for high school. I also played soccer and basketball, but what I really like about tennis is that it is an individual game. There is no one to blame but yourself if something goes wrong.”