LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Spring sports have arrived on Lookout Mountain. The Covenant men's tennis team begins its spring 2014 season on Saturday when they travel to Gadsden, Ala., to face Gadsden State.
Second year head coach John Hirte is looking for his men's team to improve this season after having a rough 2013 campaign.
The biggest news around both Covenant tennis programs is the construction of six new tennis courts on the campus. Although the courts are not quite ready for action, they are scheduled to be completed in time for the teams to play the majority of their home matches there this season.
"We are extremely excited about the new courts," said Hirte. "Being able to play matches on campus will create a true 'home court' atmosphere that will hopefully lead to more success and a more enjoyable experience for our players and fans."
Aside from the construction of the courts, Hirte has been hard at work reconstructing his men's program. Hirte has brought in eight new players this season and has a roster of 12.
Headlining the new recruits is a pair of freshmen in Michael O'Brien (Nashville, Tenn.) and Frank Portlock (Winter Have, Fla.). O'Brien had a very successful high school career that saw him place third at regionals in his senior season, while Portlock was an All-County honorable mention selection last year at Chain of Lakes (Fla.) High School.
Hirte believes that those two players will be at the top of the lineup this season. "O'Brien has a huge serve and a solid all-court game, while Portlock hits big off both his forehand and backhand sides," commented Hirte.
Junior Roy Anderson and sophomore Jonathan Turner are two of the top returning players for the Scots. Anderson played at the No. 1 singles position last season and Turner played in 11 of the 13 matches for the year.
Covenant will face stiff non-conference competition with Birmingham Southern, Berry, and Oglethorpe, among others, on the schedule. The Scots were picked to finish ninth in the USA South Preseason Coaches' Poll.
Ultimately, Hirte's goals for his men's squad this season include qualifying for the USA South Tournament (April 11-13), to continue to improve with each match and compete against conference foes.
Covenant's home opener is set for February 15 against Birmingham Southern.