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Friday, April 29, 2011With the season wrapped up and the semester coming to a close, the Bisons say goodbye as they send off three graduating seniors this May, Mario Hernandez, Joe McArdle, and James Murrell.
Hernandez has spent three and a half years at Lipscomb and on the Bisons tennis team. A senior political science major from Vancouver, Canada, and captain for this season’s team, Hernandez made a name for himself in the Lipscomb tennis program.
“Mario was nominated the team's captain at the end of the fall because of his strong leadership on and off the court,” men’s assistant coach Mike Sherman said. “He was the perfect example of being a great ambassador for the Bisons, carrying himself with class and honor at all times. Because the guys respected him, he was able to effectively lead the team to the conference tournament.
“On top of this, his drive to succeed motivated other team members to push themselves beyond their expectations. Mario will be able to use his attitude of leadership and humility to affect every one he meets in the future. I expect he will be a great leader in whatever industry he pursues.”
Hernandez will graduate in December after completing his final semester at Lipscomb. Following his graduation, he plans to tend the States' Navy Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island.
When reflecting on his career as a Bison, Hernandez said he is proud to have helped the program improve.
“I just loved being a part of the movement to improve the Lipscomb Tennis Program in all areas,” Hernandez said. “When I came in as a freshman, we didn't really get any respect even within our own university's athletics, but by the end of this year, I could feel that people were interested in how we were doing. They respected the work we were putting in.
“I give a lot of credit to the upper classmen I played with when I was younger, Jeff West, Andy Mizell, and Daniel Hangstefer, because no matter how bad we were doing as a team at times, they never gave up. That spirit has endured in this program, and that is why it is moving in the right direction.”
Hernandez said he will miss the friends he made during his time on the team more than anything else.
“I will miss my teammates,” Hernandez said. “I love every single one of the guys that I played with. When you have to get up at 5 in the morning to do conditioning and your teammates are there with you struggling and pushing each other to get better, that is a special thing that brings you closer. I couldn't as for a better group of guys to play and hang out with. Brothers for life!”
Before parting ways with the program, Hernandez’s advice for his teammates is to enjoy the moment.
“Treat every practice and match as if it is your last, because it might be,” Hernandez said. “Really get that idea into your head because those four years of college tennis go by really fast, and you want to make sure you enjoy it as much as possible.”
McArdle, a corporate management major from Birmingham, United Kingdom, spent four years making a difference as a Bison.
But McArdle will remain a familiar face come May. Following his graduation, McArdle plans to hold a graduate assistant position at Lipscomb’s new Racquet Club and continuing his education in Business at Lipscomb. He also plans on working full-time at HCA Healthcare to gain experience in the real world.
Sherman said Joe provided the team with multiple specialties that helped lead them to success.
“Joe became our ‘de facto’ doubles specialist for the spring season,” Sherman said. “He and Oliver Strecker performed well at the No. 1 doubles position, beating many of the top schools in the conference. He was extremely disciplined mentally and his confidence grew as the season progressed. His serve was particularly dangerous with his use of spin and pace, which opponents rarely figured out.
“Joe finished his senior season with a win against Belmont and then a win against Campbell. There are bright things in the future for him as he will become grad assistant in the tennis center and study business here at Lipscomb.”
For McArdle, his greatest hope as he leaves the program is that his teammates will remember his contributions.
“My teammates know the work, effort, and time I put in to improve the program and achieve the goals we set out to achieve. All that matters is what the guys think, and I believe they know the work I put in and are grateful for it - just as I am grateful for everything they have done for me and the rest of the boys.”
After posting the most successful season in the team’s history as a Division I program, McArdle said it was nice to go out with a bang.
“It was great both for the team and me personally to go out with so many wins in my last year!”
McArdle said he will miss his teammates more than anything else.
“The camaraderie and complete trust in your teammates is something I don't think I will find anywhere else in life except from my family,” McArdle said. “So, I will definitely treasure those relationships.”
He leaves his teammates and close friends with words of wisdom – simply to appreciate it.
“Enjoy it,” McArdle said. “Looking ahead at what I have to look forward to now - working all day to pay the bills! - makes me all the more thankful for the opportunity I got playing for the Bisons, having all my expenses covered so I can do what I love. It is something not many people get to experience so I would advise them to appreciate it and make the most of it.”
Murrell, a Nashville native who lived much of his life in the Philippines, also spent four years as a Bison and studying marketing at Lipscomb.
Sherman said he provided leadership for the team and helped motivate the younger players.
“James emerged as an important leader for the team during the spring season,” Sherman said. “His intensity on the court and willingness to hold the younger teammates accountable during practice and matches was extremely beneficial in developing the team's relentless attitude.
“James was able to finish his senior season on a high note helping lead the team to the A-Sun tournament. Beyond tennis, he will use his business degree to do great things for the Kingdom with his strong entrepreneurial spirit. Coach Harris and I wish him the best.
After graduation, Murrell plans on working full-time with his self-started business www.mydormfood.com
Murrell said he is proud to have played a role in setting the foundation of the program.
“I think the program’s heading in the right direction,” Murrell said. “I am proud of what the seniors have accomplished and the foundation we have helped lay for the future of the program. I have learned a lot about leadership and teams and will apply this in the business world next year.”
Murrell said he will miss hanging out with his teammates and going on road trips with them. He leaves his teammates with this advice: “there is more to life than just tennis. Do well in school and with your relationships as well.”
Hernandez, McArdle, and Murrell leave seven returning players behind them. With such a young team, there is a bright future ahead of the Bisons because of what these three have done for the program.
Written by Ashlan Williams, student assistant in athletic media relations