Coach Andrew Harris and his Bisons tennis team are gearing up for their first match of the season on January 23rd. With a young, but capable team, the Bison are looking for a successful season in a tough, competitive conference.
“The Atlantic Sun Conference will once again prove to be one of the top conferences in the nation,” said Harris. “The preseason rankings already have two schools ranked in the top 60 in the nation.”
The Bisons are battling back from a disappointing season in 2008, with only one win over cross-town rival Belmont University.
“Daniel Hangstefer, Joe McArdle, James Murrell, Josh Cummings, and Mario Hernandez are going to be counted on heavily to reverse the trends from last season, said Harris.
“This is really our nucleus right now for the next couple of years and the way they dedicate themselves and improve over the next couple of years will be the main factor in determining where we continue to go as a program.”
The team is young with one senior and two juniors. Harris has a strong outlook on what is to come.
“Andy Mizell is our lone senior this year,” said Harris. “He was voted to be the captain this year by the team. Andy has been in the program for all four years and understands the demands that playing in the conference presents.
“Any good team has great leadership, and the guys believe in Andy and trust his ability to lead the team this year,” said Harris.
The Bisons have added three new freshmen this season. Andrew Bonnell is from Hilton Head Island, S.C., where he played for Hilton Head High School.
“Andrew is learning how to fight and compete at the Division I level,” said Harris. “That is always the biggest adjustment for freshmen; learning to compete at a different level and doing it consistently.”
Bruno Melibeu is from Recife, Brazil; where he played for Libere Vivere High School.
“Bruno brings a strong baseline game that is going to bring dividends in longer matches,” said Harris. “Bruno needs to work on his serve in order to get some more cheap points over the course of a match and that will take some pressure off other aspects of his game.”
Chad Pierron; from Wheelersburg, Ohio, played for Wheelersburg High School. With a strong serve, Pierron has the potential to venture great lengths in Division I tennis.
“Chad is a young man who has great potential,” said Harris. “He definitely has the physical frame to produce big shots in college. His strength is his serve. Playing indoors at the beginning of the year will help him build confidence with his serve, which will bring more confidence to his overall game.”
This Bisons open against the University of Alabama A&M here in Nashville. The match is at Whitworth Country Club at 7 p.m.
This story was written by Caroline Price, a student assistant in the athletics media relations department.