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2014 Lady Flames Tennis Spring Preview
With the 2014 spring season just days away, Alan York of the Liberty Flames Sports Network had a chance to catch up with Liberty women's tennis head coach Jeff Maren.
During the interview, Maren discussed the progression of the program during the fall and the expectations for the squad heading into the spring season. The second-year head coach also looked at the schedule and the players who will have an impact this spring. Maren shared some of his philosophies on coaching and the importance of having a strong mental approach to the game.
In 2013, Liberty posted an 11-11 overall record, including a 6-3 mark in Big South play. The No. 4 seed Lady Flames knocked off No. 5 seed Coastal Carolina in the quarterfinals of the Big South Women's Tennis Championship, before falling to eventual tournament champion Winthrop in the semifinals.
The Lady Flames return their top six singles players and five of six doubles performers from a year ago. Seniors Cameron Richard and Rebekah Jenkins split time last season at the No. 1 and No. 2 singles positions, posting four and eight victories, respectively. The squad's remaining senior, Annisha Domenech, notched seven wins a year ago in the No. 6 spot, including a trio of wins against Big South opponents.
Junior Nicola Wellman led Liberty with 12 singles wins in 2013, splitting time at the No. 3, 4 and 5 positions. The Spring Hill, Fla., native was especially strong in conference matches, recording a 7-2 tally. Brittany Yang matched Jenkins with eight singles wins last spring and came back with a strong 7-4 mark during the fall season.
Valerie Thong posted 10 singles victories last season, ranking the sophomore second on the team behind Wellman.
In doubles play, Yang helped contribute to a team-best 14 wins, while Richard and Thong teamed up to post 12 doubles victories. Competing in the No. 1 doubles slot, Jenkins and Wellman notched seven wins.
The Lady Flames welcome four newcomers to the squad, each of whom will look to have an immediate impact in the lineup. Sophomore transfer Belen Rivera, along with freshmen Mariely Hassey, Maria Khval and Lauren Mabe, combined to record 24 singles wins during the fall tournament campaign. The quartet also combined to notch 22 doubles tallies in the fall.
Liberty opens its spring season on Saturday with a pair of matches at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. The Lady Flames face Morehead State at 9:30 a.m. before challenging North Carolina Central at 4 p.m.