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Thursday, January 20, 2011The Bisons’ tennis teams kickoff their spring season this weekend after an off-season of many changes.
This fall, fourth-year men’s head coach Andrew Harris also assumed the position of women’s head coach. Harris said making the transition has been simple due to the similarities in the two teams.
"The question I get asked the most is what is it like now working with both teams versus coaching the men's team as you were doing before,” Harris said. “The phrase we like to use is, its two teams but one program. The way we recruit, the way we run practices, the way we prepare everyday, and the way we want the program to be recognized in the community is all the same.”
With Harris taking the reins of both teams, two assistant coaches have been added to the staff. Former Lipscomb tennis star Mike Sherman came on board as the men’s assistant coach in the fall. Sherman, a Dallas, Texas native, played for Lipscomb from 2003-2007, earning two Atlantic Sun All-Conference titles.
The women’s team will seek guidance from new assistant coach Jamie Aid. Aid also played for Lipscomb during her college career before graduating and working at Ensworth High School for the past five years.
Harris said his past and familiarity with the new assistants has benefited both the staff and the program.
"In terms of our coaching staff, you cannot have a coaching structure the way we do unless you have tremendous people that are diligent and detail oriented,” Harris said. “I was blessed because I was able to play on the same Lipscomb tennis teams with Mike and Jamie before they arrived here this fall.
“Any coach will tell you when you have new staff the biggest issue is really the trust factor. However, with Jamie and Mike, we all knew one another coming in. The amount of diligence and detail that they put into their work on a daily basis was much needed in order to make sure the day to day operations remain consistent while also making sure we are building the program for the future."
Not only has the program undergone coaching changes in the off-season, but both teams will kickoff the spring with some new faces.
“The biggest transition is really for our players not for the coaches,” Harris said.
The men’s team has undergone extensive personnel additions during this off-season. After adding two new players in the fall, the Bisons picked up three new additions this spring.
Harris said the challenges for the men’s team will be finding cohesion as well as instilling a “champion” mindset, but he expects big results from one of the programs most talented rosters.
"On the men's side, this has been a four year building period,” Harris said. “This team is certainly the deepest team we have had here at Lipscomb and we are expecting some great things from this group.”
The women’s team boasts an experienced team with only a single freshman addition in the fall. Florida-native Alyssa Bellini will add more depth to the women’s returning roster.
“Experience plays a big role when you are at this level, and I think given some time that when conference schedule arrives the [Lady] Bisons will be ready for battle,” Harris said.
The men kick-off the spring season first against UT-Chattanooga on Friday at 6 p.m. at Richland Country Club. They are back in action on Saturday at 2 p.m. as they faceoff against No. 39-ranked Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt’s Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Tennis Center.
The Lady Bisons’ season opener will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at Austin Peay University.
Wrttien by Ashlan Williams, athletics media relations student assistant.