April 21, 2010
Rome, Ga. - There are times when the best medicine doesn't contain any drugs - such is the case for Shorter College men and women's tennis coach Orville Adams this season.
Despite enduring severe lower back pain that resulted in surgery to repair disc problems two weeks ago, the Hawks and Lady Hawks have helped ease Adams' pain with success on the tennis court.
Now that the regular season has ended, both teams are focused on providing even more healing power as the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament begins this Friday, April 23 on the campus of Auburn University-Montgomery in Montgomery, Ala.
"We set our goal before the season started that we wanted to be in the top 10 and now they're right there," said Adams, who has seen the Hawks (15-4) serve up a No. 11 ranking and the Lady Hawks (16-5) pin down the No. 12 slot in the latest NAIA Top 25 Coaches Poll. "They've done a fantastic job. The chemistry is there on and off the court. They're working hard every day and every week in practice and in matches.
"Now we have to work harder and try to be able to compete as a nationally-ranked team as we go into the postseason, starting with the conference tournament. Hopefully we remain ranked in the top 15 and go to the national tournament."
To earn a trip to the NAIA Tennis National Championship, the Hawks and Lady Hawks must perform well against its ranked SSAC counterparts.
2009 national runner-up and No. 2-ranked Auburn-Montgomery stands in the way of the Hawks' title aspirations, as does No. 23 Lee University, whom Shorter defeated two weeks ago in Cleveland, Tenn.
The Hawks, who have become an SSAC threat despite having one of the youngest lineups in the conference with five freshmen and a sophomore making up the top six, boasts players who have attained individual national rankings with Badr Cherradi ranked No. 34 in singles and, alongside teammate Luis Quintero, is ranked in the doubles Top 25.
"We have to make it to the championship match," said Adams, noting that earning a shot at the conference title would help the team remain high in the national rankings and, in the event that it comes up short of an SSAC championship, help secure an at-large berth.
The Lady Hawks have an even bigger test with a pair of highly touted programs in their path.
Looming in a possible championship match is top-ranked and defending national champion Auburn-Montgomery while No. 6-ranked Brenau University, which topped Shorter 7-2 in Rome early in the season, will be Shorter's first round opponent.
For added measure, fourth-seeded conference member Lee is ranked No. 18.
"There's no doubt that the girls have to come up with a win against either Brenau or AUM," Adams said. "It's going to be hard, but I feel they can do it."
Adams has challenged his Hawks and Lady Hawks to give the extra effort necessary to take the next step, one that will determine whether 2010 was a good season or a great season.
"We still have to continue to work hard," Adams said. "I'm going to demand more for the postseason. They know that I'm asking for the extra 10 percent from them. We need contributions from everybody. They have to do work on their own before or after practices or matches.
"It's a different ballgame from the regular season. They understand that."
Adams knows that every player on the rosters will have to produce even more and is confident that the Hawks and Lady Hawks can come up with performances that will breed SSAC success.
"We're going in with the intention of winning the championship," said Adams. "It'll be a tough road, but I have confidence in these kids. They are completely committed, they work hard and they're focused."