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Thursday, March 10, 2011With their first weekend of conference play tucked away under their belts, the Bisons and Lady Bisons tennis teams are preparing to face the Atlantic Sun’s top competitor, East Tennessee State University on Saturday, March 12 at 1 p.m. in Johnson City.
After picking up wins on both the men’s and women’s side in their opening weekend of A-Sun play, head coach Andrew Harris said the teams will work this week to improve.
“Both teams are looking forward to another conference weekend,” Harris said. “After the matches against Mercer and Kennesaw State this past weekend the teams recognize things we need to continue to work on as well as building on things we did well.
Both ETSU’s men’s and women’s teams are ranked first in the A-Sun preseason poll.
With spring break just around the corner, Johnson City will be the teams’ first stop out of a series of three road matches. Harris said ETSU will bring strong competition to kick off their road play.
“ETSU has restructured their coaching staff similar to ours this past summer with Yaser Zaatini now overseeing both teams,” Harris said. “Their women's program last year lost to UNF in the A-Sun finals, and their men's program has annually been one of the more consistent teams in the country the past five years. This will be our first of 3 road matches over the next week so we know we will have our work cut out for us come Saturday.”
The women, coming off a successful weekend, picked up their first conference win since 2007 when they defeated Mercer 4-3 last Friday in their opener. After losing to Kennesaw State only a day later, the Lady Bisons hold a 1-1 A-Sun record. Now, the Lady Bisons must face an ETSU team that went undefeated last season.
Harris said the Lady Bisons matches this week will help them prepare and maintain the right mindset through spring break.
“In terms of our ladies, we had two matches this week against UL-Monroe and University of Tennessee Chattanooga,” Harris said. “Our continuous theme is making sure we are competing at a high level for all the matches and looking at every match as an opportunity to get better.
“If we can keep that mindset, we will have some good results by the time the spring concludes. The girls proved to themselves this weekend against Mercer that when we stay engaged on the process we will be able to put ourselves in positions to be successful.”
For the men, Johnson City holds the opportunity to go 3-0 to start conference play after picking up wins over Mercer and Kennesaw State this past weekend. The ETSU men went 9-1 last season in A-Sun play and swept the LU men 7-0.
Harris said the ETSU match will “be all about creating opportunities.”
“If we can put some points together and string some games together then you never know what could happen,” Harris said.
The Bisons main focus this week ihe improvement of their doubles play after losing the doubles point in their first two A-Sun matches.
“I know for sure that our doubles needs to become stronger,” Harris said. “The guys have been playing with fire the past two matches by losing the doubles points and then coming back and having to win in singles. Teams like ETSU give you no room to breathe when you put yourself in positions like that. How the guys position themselves will be critical to the outcome of the match.”
Written by Ashlan Williams, student assistant in the athletics media relations department.