NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Lipscomb men’s tennis team hits Huston-Marsh-Griffith Tennis Center for the first time this spring as they take on Ball State at 10 a.m. on Friday.
Lipscomb (2-7) continues to tune-up for conference play, taking on a familiar opponent in the Red Birds.
The two sides have squared off four of the past five seasons, with the Bisons coming away with victories in their last two meetings.
Despite recent successes, Bisons head coach Mario Hernandez knows that this will be a tough Ball State team.
“We've played Ball State ever since I started coaching here,” Hernandez said. “They are well coached and always fight. We're expecting a tough match that our guys will be prepared for.”
Ball State (7-5) enters the weekend having won their last two matches, and six of their last seven.
The Bisons have been battling injury as much as opponents this season, but Hernandez compliments the willingness of his guys to step up and keep pushing.
“Our guys have worked hard like they typically do,” Hernandez said. “It hasn't been anything different but I think certain guys are ready to step up and fill the spots of some of our guys that have been injured. If guys are playing higher in the lineup, they need to embrace that challenge.
Even with their recent struggles, one bright spot for Lipscomb has been the play of the doubles team consisting of freshmen Victor Chaw and Jorge Ortegon. Their play hasn’t gone unnoticed either as for the first time in Lipscomb’s Division I history, they have a team ranked by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). Chaw and Ortegon made their debut in the rankings this week coming in at No. 78.
Despite never teaming together before, Chaw and Ortegon were able to defeat the then No. 2- ranked team of Timo Stodder and Scott Jones of Tennessee in their February 25 meeting.
While having a program first in the ranking of a doubles team is something to be proud of, Hernandez doesn’t want his guys to stop there.
“It's a great accomplishment for the program,” Hernandez said. “We've never had it before, so pride for our team definitely sets in.
”We've been battling a lot of adversity this season with injuries but the guys have been battling regardless of it. I hope this just adds motivation to set our standards higher for who we can become as individuals and what we can become as a team.”
As they continue to face challenges this season, Hernandez’s message to his team stays consistent heading into the next few matches.
“I want guys to embrace whatever challenge is in front of them and fight their hearts out,” Hernandez said. “It is pretty simple in theory but it takes guts to do. I want to see guts.”