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The Lady Flames tennis team is off to a positive start with 21 triumphs in the Liberty Fall Classic tournament Sept. 14-15 under first-year head coach Jeff Maren.
At the start of the event on Friday afternoon, the Lady Flames came through with nine solid victories. Eight doubles matches were held the first day, with Liberty winning five of them. In singles play, they came away with four wins out of six matches.
The tournament finished Saturday, Sept. 15, with a total of 12 wins for the Lady Flames. Nicola Wellman, Annisha Domenech and Valerie Thong had semifinal wins for the team, but they were defeated in their tournament final matches.
“Reaching five finals in our first tournament of the year is definitely a step in the right direction,” Maren said in an interview for libertyflames.com.
Juniors Cameron Richard and Jessie Boda, who reached the finals in their doubles match against Appalachian State, won the first victory of the year. Saturday’s championship was won by Junior Rebekah Jenkins over Longwood’s Sarah Moomau.
“This is an opportunity for us to experiment with doubles, different pairings and partnerships. It gives me the opportunity to see who works well together, and gives us an opportunity to play against some of the conference and area teams,” Maren said.
Held at the Hershey-Esbenshade Tennis Courts at Liberty, nine schools competed in this two-day tournament: Liberty University, Virginia Tech, Appalachian State, James Madison, Longwood, Radford, Norfolk State, Christopher Newport and West Virginia State.
Tennis is mainly a spring sport, but the women’s tennis team will be competing in events all autumn in preparation for the upcoming season.
“The fall puts us in a position to be more prepared for the spring,” Maren said.
It gives us the opportunity to see what we do well and what we don’t do well. It gives the girls the chance to work on individual rankings, regional rankings, and national rankings and really grow and improve to get ready to compete for the spring.”
They will compete in three events over the next three months, which begins with the Hokie Fall Invite in Blacksburg, Va. Sept. 28, the Atlantic Regionals Oct. 19. and the Houston Invite Nov. 2. Official team practices begin January.
With Maren’s first season at the helm, the Lady Flames look forward to future endeavors to build from this past tournament.