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Flames to Play a Trio of Spring Break Matches in Hawaii
The Liberty Flames tennis team takes its 8-1 record to the Aloha State for three contests this week, beginning tomorrow at 8 p.m. (EST) against Division II opponent BYU Hawaii. Liberty will then square off against No. 63 Idaho in a neutral site match on Wednesday at 5 p.m., before facing Hawaii on Thursday at 8 p.m. in Honolulu.
The Flames are off to their best nine match start and their first 2-0 start in Big South play in program history. On Friday, Liberty came from behind to defeat UNC Asheville on the road, 4-3, to run its winning streak to five matches.
Liberty boasts an overall singles mark of 45-8 this season, putting the Flames on pace to break last season's total of 90 victories. Shea Thomas leads the way with an 8-1 singles record, while Siim Tuus, Egon Samaai and Stan Vaughan each have 7-1 marks in singles contests.
In doubles play, the Flames are a combined 20-5. In the No. 1 position, Thomas and Samaai are 8-1, while Liberty's No. 2 combination of Dillon Segur and Jorge Azuero have an unblemished 7-0 record on the year. Thomas and Samaai have 15 doubles wins as a team dating back to the fall, and placing them in fourth place on the all-time single-season program record list.
BYU Hawaii, ranked No. 44 in the country in Division II and No. 6 in the ITA's West region, enters tomorrow's match with a 2-1 record. The Seasiders are led by Zevhan Zakharov, who is the 32nd Division II ranked singles player in the country. In the No. 1 doubles position, Zakharov and Martin Chojnacki are ranked 15th nationally as a tandem in Division II.
The Flames toughest match will come on Wednesday versus No. 63 Idaho, which boasts an overall record of 13-1 (2-0 WAC). The Vandals have won two straight since dropping their first match of the season to No. 40 Oregon, 4-3, this past Friday. At the beginning of the season, Abid Akbar was ranked No. 7 in the Mountain region in singles play. Akbar and Marius Cirstea were the No. 1 ranked doubles tandem in the Mountain region to start the year.
Hawaii is 3-8 overall this season, including a 2-5 mark at home. The Rainbow Warriors have dropped three matches in a row, with their most recent setback coming against Washington, 6-1. Chas Okamoto and Nils Schuhmann both have six singles wins to lead the team. In doubles play, David Schuster and Jared Spiker are the only pair with more than one victory (2). Overall, Hawaii is 26-34 in singles matches and 7-21 in doubles contests.
Following Thursday's match, Liberty will play its first home contest in over two weeks on March 19 against Charlotte. Match time is slated for 3 p.m. at the Hershey-Esbenshade Tennis Courts.