Apr 21, 2009

Men's Tennis

by Daniel Heffner

The Liberty men’s tennis team opened up Big South Tournament play on Thursday with a triumphant win over Gardner-Webb before No. 1 Radford ended the Flames season on Friday with a 4-0 knockout loss in the semifinals.

The Flames, who held a No. 5 seed, came up with the big win over Gardner-Webb by defeating the Bulldogs 4-1. The team of junior Clay Cypert and freshman Giancarlo Lemmi opened up the doubles section of the match with a score of 8-5. In the second match, which ended unfinished, junior Chad Simpson and freshman Gregorio Machado led 8-7. If the second match had completed, the Flames would have swept the doubles point. Earlier, juniors Juan Reyes and Louis Steyn nearly swept their opponents but ended up with an 8-1 win.

In the singles match, the Flames took care of business with Lemmi winning the third match 7-6, 6-1. Also coming out on top for the Flames was Simpson winning the fourth match 6-3, 6-1, and Reyes winning the sixth match 6-4 and 6-2. Other matches ended with Cypert being defeated in the first match 6-2, 6-1, and Steyn and junior Otavio Costa both playing in unfinished matches.

“It was great to be a part of the first Liberty team to win a round at the Big South, especially after losing to Gardner-Webb earlier in the year,” Simpson said. “Clay and Giancarlo came up huge in winning at number one doubles for us, and that proved to be the difference in the (Gardner-Webb) match. Every player on the team went out and was very focused and hungry to win this match.”

Unfortunately, the Flames did not fare as well against the No. 1 seeded Highlanders. The doubles section ended with Radford taking the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles matches with a score of 8-3 in both, and the third match ending unfinished. The singles matches also did not go well for the Flames, as Cypert’s match went unfinished with the junior behind 6-2, 5-5 and Steyn losing 6-1, 6-1. The lone bright spot of the match was Simpson leading his opponent 7-6, 2-1, in an unfinished match. This season ends with the Flames recording 13 wins, which is the second highest total wins in their history.

“We are not satisfied as a team to lose in the semis, we are here to bring home conference titles for Liberty University,” Simpson said.

Head Coach Chris Johnson said, “I am quite proud of all of our players as Liberty tennis had our best year ever combined. Anything short of winning the conference championship is a bit disappointing but our teams continue to improve every year. Since we have no seniors in either of our starting line-ups we are really looking forward to what next year holds as well.”

Contact Daniel Heffner at


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