Scorching a rival

Lady Flames defeat Coastal 6-1, now 2-1 in conference

The Lady Flames beat the Lady Chanticleers 6-1 Saturday, March 2, enduring almost freezing weather.

“It’s a real big deal that we beat our rival at Liberty,” Rebekah Jenkins said. “It’s a really good feeling when you beat that giant.”

The Lady Flames played strong in the doubles matchups, winning both. Liberty’s pairings of Jenkins and Nicola Wellman defeated Shelby Bates and Kourtney Kowl of Coastal Carolina, 8-5. In addition, Liberty’s duo of Brittany Yang and Jessie Boda defeated Coastal’s couple of Vanessa Ortiz and Mikaela Davies, 8-5.

Tag team — Rebekah Jenkins and Nicola Wellman helped Liberty go 2-1 in doubles. Photo credit: Kyle Milligan

“First thing is to win the doubles point,” Cameron Richard said. “That’s a big thing. If you win that, you get the extra point and get the momentum going in the singles.”

The next portion of the match is the singles matchups. Liberty defeated Coastal, 5-1.
Recording victories in the singles were Jenkins, Alexandra Sheeran, Brittany Yang, Nicola Wellman and Valerie Thong.

“We walked into this matchup with the mindset these girls are here to (play tennis), and we weren’t going to mess around, and we walked on the court with that and gave it our all,” Jenkins said.

The Lady Flames lost only two of the nine matches.

“We’re here, and we’re contending for the top spot, and we’re coming in strong,” Richard said.

With the win, Liberty improved its record to 3-5 and 2-1 in conference play. As the season is almost coming to an end, the team recognized the importance of today’s game.

The Lady Chanticleers featured a team of five freshmen out of eight tennis players, a new lineup that is different from what Liberty has seen in previous years.

“It’s interesting because we didn’t know a lot about them,” Head Coach Jeff Maren said. “I think they had five new players this year — and for a women’s tennis team, that’s a lot. Coastal has been one of the better teams in the conference for a number of years.”

Unlike Coastal, Liberty has a core group of veteran tennis players. With their eyes on a Big South Championship, they understand that winning is a process.

“We are about the journey, getting from point A to point B,” Maren said. “So, this win is a part of the process that we are trying to move to conference (tournament).”

The weather played some factor in the matchup. With temperatures in the low 40s, both teams had to push through the almost freezing conditions.

“It kind of slows you down because your body is not as warm,” Richard said. “Also, in the cold weather, the balls do not bounce as high. So, you really have to focus on your foot work and getting to the ball early because it’s not going to get there as fast.”

The Lady Flames begin a three-game road trip March 7 against UNC Asheville. They return home March 19 for a game against East Carolina.

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