NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Lipscomb Bisons tennis coach Mario Hernandez is outnumbered, but he is not discouraged.
Two of his players are injured with at least one sidelined for the entire season. A transfer that might have added relief was ruled ineligible by the NCAA.
The Bisons will be hosting North Alabama Saturday night 5 p.m. at Richland Country Club’s indoor facility on Granny White Pike. Sundaythey make the short trip to Vanderbilt for a 4:30 p.m. match at the Currey Tennis Center.
North Alabama, 1-0, is scheduled to play at Belmont Friday night. Vanderbilt is 4-1.
"North Alabama and Vanderbilt both are good teams," Hernandez said. "But we are more focused on taking care of what we do. We have to forget about everything and everyone else and just focus on what our team is doing and how we are imposing ourselves against our opponents."
Only five players will be able to play, one short of the six needed.
“It puts us in a little bit of a hole,” Hernandez said. “We expected this for the most part and are prepared to deal with it.
“We've constantly talked about how everyone faces adversity. The important thing is how you deal with it.”
Hernandez has been stressing to his remaining players the need to stand in the breach and form a strong wall of support.
“The mentality we have had is that because we are playing with one less man, everyone is going to have to step up and improve even more,” Hernandez said. “Everyone has more responsibility to bear but that's only going to make us better. We are definitely not going to feel sorry for ourselves."
The Bisons opened the season against Marquette at Richland Jan. 13, a 5-2 loss. Stuart Tierney, at No. 2, and Rob Mitchell, playing at No. 3, each won their singles matches. The Bisons have not played a match since then.
"We have had almost three weeks of preparation since our last match and I feel that the level is definitely getting better,” Hernandez said. “We have really been stressing the idea of how intense our practices are.
“That is the difference in my opinion. We want to practice at the intensity we would have in a championship match or a deciding match. If we do that, then the match becomes routine because we have already prepared ourselves at an equal or even greater intensity or pressure."