NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Lipscomb men’s tennis coach Mario Hernandez is confident he has raised the competition level of his team with the signing of a pair of players for 2015-2016 – Daniel Cardenas from Cali, Columbia and George Wong from Adelaide, in South Australia.
“This year's recruiting class is a final piece to what I believe can be a very strong team both on and off the court,” Hernandez said. “We believe they will complement a good group of returning players. I'm positive and looking forward to what this group of guys can mature and develop into."
This is the third recruiting class for Hernandez as head coach of the Lipscomb program. He has learned a great deal on what traits are needed from his players to be successful at Lipscomb on and off of the court.
“What I've learned is that talent is important but in a program like ours that puts the emphasis on developing our players as opposed to simply recruiting them, a passion for the sport and a strong character are even more important,” Hernandez said. “We believe that if a player comes here with the focus of taking advantage of every opportunity Lipscomb has to offer and views this as their training ground for the future, the sky is the limit for them here. Both George and Daniel possess these qualities which is why we are thrilled to welcome them to our team.”
Cardenas is a transfer from Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne (IPFW). He played in the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 singles spots and posted a 12-13 match record for spring 2015. He was 2-3 at No. 2, 3-4 at No. 3 and 7-6 at No. 4. He was 16-4 playing No. 2 doubles.
“Finding players that are strong in both singles and doubles is crucial,” Hernandez said. “Doubles can be a deciding factor for us as a team. We look forward to Daniel being a strong contributor for us in both singles and doubles.
“Having guys like Daniel and George, who enjoy talking about what they want to do in the classroom to set them up for the career they want as well as what they want to improve in their game on the court is the type of attitude that not only helps them but also the rest of the team as well. As we keep bringing in more and more guys with this focus, you can't help but have a positive culture."
Wong was the most valuable player for his high school team. In 2014 he finished fifth in the 18 and Under School Sport Australia Pizzey Cup Tennis Championships.
"I feel like I've been speaking to George longer than I've ever spoken to any recruit, and I'm looking forward to finally meeting him in person,” Hernandez said. “We have been speaking for quite some time now, and I've been able to see him make improvements in his game through videos he posts online of him playing.
“I love George's passion for the game of tennis and wanting to become the best he can be. I think he understands the opportunity he will have here at Lipscomb to get a great education and to continue improving his tennis game for the next four years.”
Wong has plans to be a professional tennis player but also wants to pursue a career as a sports journalist.
“As a coach, I'm looking forward to coaching a guy like George because he's open to new information and he listens,” Hernandez said. “Those sound like common sense things to do, but not everyone does them. If you come here to learn, you will, and I think George's best tennis is ahead of him.”