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Men's tennis opens spring with Marquette on Saturday

Friday, January 17, 2014
by Mark McGee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Down in Melbourne at the Australian Open tennis players are dealing with temperatures of well over 100 degrees. With the cold and snowy weather around the Nashville area it might be difficult to think about the start of the tennis season.

But the Lipscomb Bisons will be on the court for the first time in 2014 Saturday when Marquette visits. They will be inside at the Richland Tennis Center. The first match starts at 4 p.m. This is also the first match of the spring for Marquette which will play Sunday at No. 16 Vanderbilt.

Lipscomb men’s tennis coach Mario Hernandez was pleased with the way his team made progress during the fall season. But the spring brings new challenges.

“We had a very successful fall but that was a couple of months ago,” Hernandez said. “This is a new season and we have to work that much harder to surpass the results we had in the fall.

“I think the fall did give a lot of our guys confidence and clarity into their identities as players in knowing what style to play.”

Hernandez thinks that the awareness each player developed during the fall season will pay dividends in terms of match strategy.

In tennis you don't have to hit every shot to win. It's more about knowing your weapons and your weaknesses and then looking to set up the point so you are hitting your weapons more often than your weaker shots. Our guys have a better understanding of that and are improving because of it.

“In the past two weeks we have been unlucky with some of the injuries we have had.” Hernandez said. “Our goal has always been to win the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship and it will remain that way despite some injuries.

“Each guy on the team can contribute and the fact of the matter is that the players and coaches are all going to have to step up even more to achieve what we want to achieve. It's the beginning of a new season and I think it presents a great challenge to all of us to grow and become better than we even first imagined.”

One player who made great strides during the fall was Rob Mitchell, a freshman from Southampton, England. Hernandez stresses that Mitchell has taken his play to another level since returning to school for the spring.

“I think most of our guys have improved,” Hernandez said. “Though I think Rob made the most noticeable improvements within the first two weeks of practice.

“This is a long season and we all need to improve…coaches included. Where we are right now will not be the level we need to win the Atlantic Sun Conference, but it's not about our level now. We just have to keep working.”