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Azuero Captures Two Titles at UVa Fall Classic
Junior Jorge Azuero posted a perfect weekend for the Liberty men's tennis team at the UVa Fall Classic en route to a title in the Green Singles bracket and a doubles championship in the Blue bracket with teammate Shea Thomas. Azuero's two titles mark the second straight year a Flame has won a title in both singles and doubles flights, matching Shea Thomas' two championships from a year ago.
Competing against players from nationally ranked schools such as Virginia, Cornell, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech, Liberty tallied 16 singles victories and six doubles wins over the course of the three-day tournament. The Flames' 16 singles victories mark a six-win improvement from last season.
"Our play this weekend was impressive," commented Liberty head coach Chris Johnson. "We took on really good competition and brought home a couple of titles and a lot of wins. The guys have been working so hard this semester and it's clear that it is paying off."
Azuero opened singles play with wins against Rafael Ribas of Virginia Tech, 6-3, 6-4, and College of Charleston's Josh Record, 6-2, 6-2. The junior defeated Cornell's Dylan Brown in the semifinals 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the title match against Sebastian Yllera of ETSU. After pulling out a 7-6 win in the first set, Azuero finished off Yllera in the second set, 6-3, to claim the title.
Azuero and Thomas, competing in the top doubles flight, pulled off a first round upset, defeating second-seeded Diego Nunez and Yllera of ETSU, 8-5. The Liberty duo continued their strong play with an 8-6 ousting of Virginia Tech's Jai Corbett and Florian Nicoud. In the final match, Thomas and Azuero downed Rob Stirling and Miljna Ruzic of James Madison, 8-5. It was Thomas' second doubles title in as many years at the UVa Fall Invite.
Also in singles play, Thomas made an impressive run through the top singles bracket, posting a 3-1 record and finishing in third place. The senior opened with a 6-1, 6-2 victory against Cornell's No. 2 singles player from last season, Alex Sydney. Thomas followed up his victory against Sydney with a 6-3, 6-3 win versus Ben Hoogland of William & Mary. In the semifinals, Thomas faced top-seeded Harrison Richmond of defending national champion Virginia. Richmond outlasted Thomas, 6-2, 6-4, sending Thomas to the third place match. Thomas bounced back in the third-place match, rolling past Nicky Kunz of Wake Forest, 6-2, 6-1.
Egon Samaai and Stan Vaughan each collected consolation titles in their respective singles brackets. Samaai downed No. 3 seed Daniel Grauel of Norfolk State in the Black bracket consolation final, while Vaughan ousted Radford's Joe Mills in straight sets in the White flight.
Freshman Alejandro Llamas picked up two singles wins for the Flames, while Guillem Secanell and Sergio Mourelo each won one singles match.
Vaughan and Llamas recorded impressive results in the Gold doubles bracket. The duo routed second-seeded Nika Dolidize and Rami Labna, 8-1, in the opening round. The Flames' tandem went on to stun Virginia's pair of Alex Scheinman and Jonny Cornish, 8-6. In the finals, Vaughan and Llamas fell to William & Mary's Hoogland and John Banks, 8-4.
In addition to the Flames' strong play on the court, Johnson also sees continued growth in other areas. "The thing I am most proud is how much our guys are growing spiritually as a team," stated Johnson. "We are making an effort to bring Liberty, and all that it entails, to each tournament. God calls us to be a light and they are really doing a great job."
Liberty returns to action this weekend at the Wake Forest Fall Invite. The tournament gets underway on Friday morning and will conclude on Sunday.