NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Lipscomb men’s tennis coach Mario Hernandez has announced the addition of four players to bolster the spring season roster.
The new players are Philippe Courteau from St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec; Kauai Linardi from Sao Paulo, Brazil; Alejandro Manzanares from Caracas, Venezuela and Alex Pavel from Ancienee-Lorette, Quebec.
"Overall, we are very happy with these four freshmen and with our five returning players from last semester,” Mario said. “We now have nine guys that, from what I can see, are already on the same page in terms of wanting to start competing and wanting to really bring back a sense of pride to being a Lipscomb tennis player.
“I'm pumped up and I know the rest of the guys are pumped. Let’s roll out the balls and go play."
Mario is assisted by his brother, Geoff.
Courteau was a bronze medalist at the Canada games representing Quebec. He was a national singles semifinalist and a national doubles champion in U-16. He was ranked 512th in the ITF.
"Philippe comes from a tennis family much like Geoff and I which was definitely a connection we had with him right away,” Mario said. “Philippe is very passionate about the game of tennis and has a strong desire to take this program to a very high level.”
Mario has been impressed with Coureau’s interest in the team, even before he participated in his first practice.
“Philippe knew about the guys on the team and the guys that would be coming in and was already thinking about certain pairings for doubles teams,” Mario said. “He was also asking what the strengths and weaknesses for each guy on the team were.
“Before he even stepped on campus, he threw himself into knowing everything about the team. That showed me that this guy was committed to seeing our team succeed and we look forward to that attitude in every player."
Pavel was ranked No.3 in singles in Quebec and No.7 in Canada in U-18. He was also No. 2 in singles in Quebec and No. 6 in Canada in U-16. He was rated No. 1 in Quebec in doubles in both U-18 and U-16.
"Alex, like Philippe, comes from Canada which has a growing tennis tradition and is one Geoff and I are quite familiar with from our years of living and playing up there,” Mario said. “Alex has always been one of the top players there and brings a big game and a good work ethic to the court that will be a positive for us.
“After seeing him in our first few practices this season, I'm impressed with his intensity. He just keeps going and competing which is something you are always looking for in a player. We're looking forward to what he will help the team to accomplish over four years."
Manzanares is the No. 1 player in Venezuela in the 18 and under division and has an ITF rating of 341. He won the Barquisimeto Junior Open in 2013 and was runner-up in the Panama Bowl in 2014.
"Alejandro will be a strong addition to the team,” Mario said. “He's a lefty which always poses problems for opponents.
“He also has a real sense for the game. He's not the biggest guy out there but fortunately, tennis is much more about foot speed, heart, tactics, and tennis skill over who's the biggest guy.”
Mario and Geoff are as impressed with Manzanares mental approach as they are his physical abilities.
“What really caught our eye in recruiting Alejandro was his ability and patience to construct points,” Mario said. “That's a sign of maturity and tennis IQ in a player you don't always see at a young age.
“Lastly, we feel Alejandro is a great guy that comes from a close family. Speaking with his father, Edgard, and his older brother, Diego, we knew we would be getting a guy that had a good head on his shoulders which is what we are looking for in all our players."
Linardi was rated 15th in the state and was runner-up in the 2014 state championship.
"Kauai is the second Brazilian player to ever join our program,” Mario said. “I knew from the first time I spoke with him that he was a good kid I felt could really strive here at Lipscomb University.”
Mario was equally impressed with Linardi’s overall conditioning and readiness to take the court.
“From the first impression as well you can tell that Kauai is very fit as a tennis player and works very hard with his feet and legs on court,” Mario said. “That can take you a long way in tennis which is based more than ever on court coverage, endurance, and foot speed.
“I truly believe that Kauai is going to make a jump here in his game and in all other aspects of his life based on the coaching, competition, and environment that he is going to get here at Lipscomb University."
The men open the season Jan. 16 at Vanderbilt in a 5 p.m. indoor match.