NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The Lipscomb men’s tennis team will open its 2018 season with a familiar foe, as the Bisons are set to visit the Vanderbilt Commodores on Sunday at 4 p.m.
Coach Geoff Hernandez will make his spring tennis debut after taking helm of the program following the departure of his brother, Mario.
Hernandez said the team has been practicing at Richland Country Club and is ready to play after over two months away from match competition.
“I feel like everyone has come in more focused than in past years,” Hernandez said. “They came back (from Christmas break) in great shape and ready to play.”
Two new additions – freshman Francesco Tacconi and assistant coach Andy Veal – have also brought a new flavor to the Lipscomb program.
“Francesco will make an impact right away,” Hernandez said. “There’s an adjustment period that he’s dealing with, but he should be a major player for us over the next few years.”
Meanwhile, Hernandez said that Veal’s experience playing and coaching professional tennis has helped the Bisons sharpen their game this offseason.
“Andy has done an amazing job in helping us refine the little details,” Hernandez said. “That’s going to make a big difference in how we play.”
One area where the team struggled last season was in doubles play, which partially explains their abysmal 5-13 record during the 2017 regular season.
“For us to change the culture and take the next step, we’ve got to win more matches during the regular season,” Hernandez said. “Winning doubles matches will help us do that, so we spent a lot of time trying to improve our combos last fall.”
The Bisons will rely heavily on seniors Alejandro Manzanares and Daniel Cardenas to anchor the singles lineup. Sophomores Victor Chaw and Jorge Ortegon and junior George Wong also bring significant collegiate experience to the lineup.
“It’s a special season for (the seniors) because Alejandro and Daniel have been an important part of our program for a while,” Hernandez said. “I feel a very positive energy from them, and I think they want to make a splash in their last season.”
Lipscomb begins its season with a stiff challenge, as the Commodores return nine players, including their top four singles positions. Senior Daniel Valent is currently ranked 50th in the ITA singles poll, while Lachlan McPhee and Billy Rowe are currently ranked 36th in the ITA doubles rankings.
“You can’t ask for a better way to open the year,” Hernandez said. “We always love playing Vanderbilt – they have an amazing program. We have to go in with the mentality that we’re going to take it to them.”
Sunday’s action can be followed with the live stream link provided above. A full recap of the action will be available on LipscombSports.com on Sunday night.