Sep 15, 2009

Tennis teams look to continue hot streaks

by Jeffrey Scott

The Liberty Flames men’s and women’s tennis team both look to improve this year and contend for the Big South Championship, defended by Radford University. The men’s team lost to eventual champion Radford in the semi-finals of the Big South Championship (BSC) and is hungry to compete with the best in the Big South. Last season the team posted the second highest win total in program history, and is set to raise the bar once again.

The team did not lose anyone to graduation and has added players that will increase their experience and depth. Coach Chris Johnson believes that the team’s schedule is a clear reflection of how far the program has come in a short period of time.

“The strength of our schedule this year represents how much our team has improved in the last two years,” Johnson said. “With the new players we have added this fall joining a squad from which no one graduated last year, we will bring the deepest pool of talent ever seen by Liberty men’s tennis.”

Upon the completion of the tennis courts at North Campus, the Flames will once again play their home matches on Liberty Mountain.

The team has returned four players from last year’s 13- win team and added three new members. Freshmen Siim Tuurs from Rakvere, Estonia, Tristan Stayt from Plymouth, New Zealand and William and Mary junior transfer Benjamin Wirth from Virginia Beach, Va. look to help the Flames in their journey to a Big South Championship.

Johnson has nothing but high hopes for the team this year.

“Our goal this year is simple and clear — win the Big South title and earn a top-75 national ranking,” Johnson said. “With the talent we have and the schedule we will play, anything short of that would be a disappointment.”

The team has a long season ahead, beginning at the Virginia Open in Charlottesville, Va. They will play in tournaments at Mary Washington, Old Dominion University and the ITA Mideast Regional Indoor tournament. After that tournament, they will not play again until Feb. 6, 2010 at Mary Washington again. The BSC tournament begins on April 22 and will be hosted by Radford University.

The Lady Flames set a new record for the program by notching 15 victories last season, surpassing the previous total of 13. The team also went over a month without a loss, tallying 11 straight wins from March 10 to April 16. A big spark in that run was sophomore Hannah Fick, who rolled off 14 straight wins and posted a 15-5 record. Junior Jordan Jenkins was selected to the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) Women’s Tennis second team last season and is poised to play strongly in 2009. The team earned its first Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) ranking in program history in 2009, listed as the 130th ranked team in the nation.

The Lady Flames have a full schedule for 2009-10, including the always tough Big South matches. They will travel to New York City to play in the Billie Jean King Women’s Invitational, and will also play in the ITA Mideast Regional Indoor tournament.

Contact Jeff Scott at jdscott@liberty.edu.


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