The LSU baseball team has seen numerous lineup changes the past four years, but one of the constants in all those lineups were seniors Austin Nola at shortstop and Tyler Hanover at third base. Hanover says he and Nola use their seniority to help teach younger players.
“With our leadership and our four years of experience, we can try and help out some of these younger guys, especially in big game situations,” Hanover said.
The duo have been regulars in the lineup since the middle of their freshmen year, and Nola says that communication between the two is second nature.
“We know where we’re playing at all times,” Nola said. “We’re always communicating we never have a problem not communicating.”
Both players were drafted in the 2011 Major League Baseball draft, but decided to stay at LSU. They both know that their time at LSU will soon end, but LSU and Alex Box Stadium will always be special to them.
“It’s something I’ll cherish forever, and all the experiences I’ve had have been unbelievable, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything,” Hanover said.
“It’s gonna be a sad day when we have to leave because we’ve done it for four years here at Alex Box Stadium, and it’s been a fun ride,” Nola said.
Senior captain Neal Skupski has helped lead the Tigers to the number twenty-one ranking. Head Coach Jeff Brown knew Skupski was a special player from the beginning.
“He’s been able to play at a really high level since the beginning,” Brown said. He was thrown in the singles mix in the beginning and he was also in the top of the doubles right away.
Skupski never fully focused on tennis before coming to Baton Rouge, playing soccer and golf before coming to LSU. Brown had to mold him to become a complete tennis player.
“Coming into college I didn’t really have a tennis brain,” Skupski said. “I didn’t know how to play a match because when I was younger I didn’t really play many tournaments.” Skupski also added that Brown and assistant coach Danny Bryan have taught him how to keep his focus during a match.
Skupski and the team will face Northwestern May 12 in Durham, N.C., for the first round of the NCAA tournament. Skupski plans to turn pro in January.
Here is my newest resume reel
Freshman Chris Simpson is making his mark for the LSU Tennis team this season. Simpson has been a mainstay on court three for the Tigers, a spot usually reserved for upperclassmen. Head coach Jeff Brown thinks this is only a sign of things to come.
“There’s no reason to think that eventually he won’t be on the top court,” Brown said. “With him being a freshman and continuing to get better as the season’s gone along, I’d imagine he’d get better next year.”
When Simpson arrived on campus in January 2011, he was redshirted by Brown to give him more of a chance to develop. Simpson says it has payed off. “The development since I’ve been here has been very good,” Simpson said. “(Assistant coach) Danny (Bryan) and Jeff have put a lot of effort into me and it shows, I’m playing very well at the moment.”
Brown has a 9-4 record on the season, including a 6-4 record on court three. Brown isn’t surprised by Simpson’s strong play. “We thought his game style was really well suited for the college style in the sense that it seemed to be one that when he played his matches he seemed to figure things out as he went,” Brown said.
Simpson’s strong play this season has helped him rise to ninety-eighth in the nation in men’s singles.
Here is a point for Simpson in his victory against UGA’s Sadio Doumbia, who was ranked twentieth at the time.
LSU is the only school in the SEC without an indoor tennis facility, but that will soon change. Men’s coach Jeff Brown believes it will help out with recruiting.
The facility would help the team grow in-state talent because it would allow LSU to host junior tournaments, Brown said. Brown believes that, “would lend us to recruits that are like some of the other sports have where they have a passion for LSU from the time they grow up.”
The facility will also give the team a place to play when it rains. The team frequently plays in the afternoon to try and avoid rain cancellations. “If I schedule a match at 6 and it rains once, we may be done for the match,” Brown said. “Where as we schedule it at 2 or 3, it gives us a chance to play a little later if it does rain, that’s why we play when we do. It’s not ideal for the working fan.”
Assistant Danny Bryan thinks the new facility will add to the heavy push the team is already making to fans. “We’re making a really big push to get better attendance at the matches, which we have been doing this year,” Bryan said.
LSU has not finalized a location for the facility, but assistant athletic director Herb Vincent said the facility will likely be south of campus down Nicholson Drive.
If you’ve ever wondered how college tennis teams are ranked, click here for the ITA’s FAQ article on rankings
The Daily Reveille ran an article today on assistant coach Danny Bryan. Bryan was a tennis player at LSU from 2003 until 2007.