MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Lipscomb men’s tennis team is set to make the trip down I-24 to Murfreesboro this weekend to open up the 2017-18 season in the Dale Short Shootout hosted by Middle Tennessee.
The Bisons will go up against individuals from Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee and UAB.
The Shootout not only begins a new season for Lipscomb, it also launches a new era as Geoff Hernandez makes his debut at the Bisons head coach.
“I never really thought of this as my first match as head coach, but it is and it’s very exciting,” Hernandez said. “I don’t feel any more pressure. I just look at it as an opportunity to kind of set a new era in a positive direction. I want to show the things I find important as a coach and what our guys value in terms of energy and fighting spirit. This is going to be a fun year and I am ready to get it started.”
Although Hernandez holds a new job title, he is no stranger to the program. Hernandez spent the last three seasons as an assistant on his brother’s (Mario) staff where he excelled in scouting and recruiting. He helped the Bisons reel in some of the highest-rated recruits in the programs history per the International Tennis Federation rankings.
“Stepping in as head coach after being Mario’s assistant with a lot of the same guys returning, there is a real comfort level,” Hernandez said. “It’s not about rebranding our program, it’s building on what we’ve already started. We have to put our own stamp on it. Everyone is confident in the work we are doing and that will show on the court.”
Lipscomb returns five players off a squad that made the program's first-ever run to the ASUN Championship match last season as a No. 6 seed. The group features ASUN second teamer Alejandro Manzanares and All-Freshman Victor Chaw. They are joined by senior Daniel Cardenas, junior George Wong and sophomore Jorge Ortegon.
The Bisons also add a pair a freshmen to the mix in David Skrabut (Nashville, Tennessee) and Pedro Uribe Medellin, Colombia).
Rather than worry about the match results, Hernandez says this weekend is all about exposure.
“We want to get our freshmen the feeling of what college tennis is all about,” Hernandez said. “The main goal for this weekend is getting our guys exposure. The more exposure they get now, the better we will be in the spring. I also want to see them bring tons of energy and fight hard. We will find out just what this team is made of and that’s what makes this season opener so much fun.”
Following the Dale Short Shootout, the Bisons will compete in Vanderbilt’s Commodore Scramble next week in Nashville. Play will begin Friday, Sept. 29 and will run through Sunday, Oct. 1.
“Right now is the time to get our fitness where it needs to be and develop our game as a whole, so that when spring rolls around, we will be in position to build as a program and have an even better season than we did last year,” Hernandez said.