NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The fall tennis schedule is an opportunity for players to enhance their strengths and correct their weaknesses.
Lipscomb’s Stuart Tierney, a junior from Hillsboro, Ore., is doing a little of both. This past week he won three matches at the Dale Short Shootout at Middle Tennessee with wins against UAB, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and Middle Tennessee. He earned tournament MVP honors for his singles play. The Bisons won two of three matches in the tournament.
“It was a solid weekend for everybody,” Tierney said. “We all played really well. It was really fun. It was a great atmosphere.
“It is an individual sport, but you want to do well in order to contribute to your team. That is how we all try to work at it. When everyone else is playing well you can be a lot more relaxed.”
Lipscomb coach Mario Hernandez stresses that each player should focus on his strengths as diligently as he does his weaknesses.
“Stuart's game is based around his strengths which include his serve, forehand, and court coverage,” Hernandez said. “This fall we are continuing to work on him understanding his identity as a player based on those strengths.
“This is a continuation from last season, so most of it is a review. The challenge for him comes in staying disciplined to commit to that style of play each and every day without going away from it at all.”
Tierney approaches the fall as a time to get back in top physical shape, develop consistency and sharpen the mental aspects of his game.
“It is a time to get the fight back as well as getting stronger and faster,” Tierney said. “The tournaments in the fall give you more drive to your practices. After that first tournament you want to compete and be back out on the court as soon as you possibly can be.
“In team practice we work on everything so gradually your weaknesses will get better. But Mario wants us to focus on what your game is based around. If you focus on your weaknesses they will get better, but your strengths will stay the same. The focus is to make your strengths as good as they can possibly be.”
Tierney is expected to be somewhere in the top four in the singles lineup for the Bisons this spring, though Hernandez is not ready to commit to a specific spot.
“Nothing is set in stone now because we have a good group of competitive and hard-working guys that are constantly pushing each other each day,” Hernandez said. “Every spot in the lineup is important. So wherever Stuart or anyone else plays we expect the same fight and commitment to playing the game the right way whether they are No. 1 or No. 6, or fighting to be in the lineup.”
The Bisons head to Chattanooga this weekend for the Steve Baras Fall Classic, a three-day event. Also in the field are Abilene Christian, Samford, ETSU, Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee Tech, Belmont and Lee. Matches start each day at 7 a.m. CDT.
Tierney thinks that the team is going to play well under the direction of Hernandez who made a name for himself as a leader when he served as captain of the Bisons.
“He really has the right mentality,” Tierney said. “He makes practices fun, but he also makes them competitive. We are not there for ourselves; we are there for the team.
“He has done an awesome job. The way we played at Middle Tennessee really spoke this weekend to how well he has been doing.”