Tuesday, July 05, 2011
The future is looking bright for the Bisons’ men’s tennis team as they recently earned their highest ever recruiting ranking, according to a national website.
Tennisrecruiting.net, a top resource in the world of college tennis recruiting, ranked Lipscomb’s incoming class 15th nationally amongst mid-majors. UC Santa Barbara finished first and no Atlantic Sun teams finished ahead of the Bisons or in the top 25.
The recent ranking may be viewed at: http://www.tennisrecruiting.net/article.asp?id=1204
“The importance of recruiting is vital and I think having a top 15 class like this shows the confidence that other players around the country are having in what we’re building here,” said Coach Andrew Harris. “To be ranked even in the top 25 at all is a big deal for us. It’s never happened before.
“Recruiting in tennis is such a big deal because it’s head-to-head. If you don’t take elite players, they’ll be playing against you. You’re not looking for a specific skill set like in other sports, you’re just looking for the best players.”
Harris said he believes he has found two of those "best players" in signees Daniel Hernandez and Stuart Tierney. Both garnered four-star ratings from tennisrecruiting.net and are considered by the website to be among the top 100 incoming freshman nationally.
Tierney, a native of Hillsboro, Oregon, and Hernandez, of Friendswood, Texas, will join a returning Bisons team that earned a No. 6 seed at the A-Sun Championships in 2010-11.
“Stuart is one of the best one or two players in Oregon,” Harris said. “He plays with an all-court style but has the ability to change things up and the flexibility to adapt to the other player, no matter the style.
“Daniel Hernandez will be similar to (returning sophomore) David Salazar. He’ll probably be ranked in the top seven or eight players in Texas by the time he gets here and he’s a great competitor. His spirit is contagious and he’s not afraid to dig in when needed.”
Prior to last season, Lipscomb’s men’s tennis program had been struggling. They are 19-59 in the past four years, but Harris said perception along the recruiting trail has increasingly been that the Bisons are a program on their way up, especially after the team improved to finish in the middle of the conference pack last season.
That, combined with the new Huston-Marsh-Griffith Tennis Center, which opened last year, have really boosted recruiting, Harris said.
“The new facility certainly helps on the recruiting front and it’s one of the best in the conference,” he said. “The facility and the campus, like in every other sport, is what draw people in. Plus, our top six players from a decent team last year are all returning. Nobody is gone from that team. When we add this new class to what we had, expectations are that we should be improved and there should be healthy competition amongst all the players.
“This is a great incoming class, and now they have to prove themselves. Nothing will be handed to them, but they are good players.”
Harris said he and his staff will likely add one more player to this year’s class, likely pulling from the international ranks for a January enrollment, he said. However, Harris said he is pleased to have drawn two elite American players with this year’s class because domestic recruiting allows coaches to create a recruiting buzz within the national tennis community.
“We want to build the program with American players,” he said. “If we can get good players like this we won’t have to go international as much. It’s easier to sell Lipscomb tennis to top Americans, especially if we can get some momentum.”
There is plenty of excitement now, Harris said, as he works to finish off a landmark recruiting class for Lipscomb tennis and tries this year on the court to build on last season’s improvement.
“We’ll see if we can get one more player,” said Harris. “We’re working on that right now.”