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Women's Tennis Opens Spring Season with a Pair of Saturday Matches
The Liberty Lady Flames tennis squad opens the 2014 spring season on Saturday with a pair of matches at the Greenbriar Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. Liberty begins the day with a 9:30 a.m. tilt versus Morehead State, before challenging North Carolina Central at 4 p.m.
Liberty, which finished the 2013 spring season 11-11 overall, will be looking for its first season-opening win since the 2010 campaign. The Lady Flames are 3-10 all time in season openers.
Saturday's matchups will be the first time Liberty has faced either Morehead State or North Carolina Central. The Morehead State contest will be the first ever match between the Lady Flames and a member of the Ohio Valley Conference. While tomorrow's match against North Carolina Central will be the first tilt versus Liberty and the Eagles, the Lady Flames are 18-2 all-time against other participants in the MEAC.
The 2014 Lady Flames have a strong mix of experience and youth throughout both their singles and doubles lineups. Liberty has three seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen on this season's roster, all of which received playing time during the fall season.
The Lady Flames participated in four tournaments during the fall schedule, posting a combined 51-48 singles record and a 25-22 doubles mark. Freshman Mariely Hassey and junior Brittany Yang led the way with eight and seven singles wins, respectively. In doubles play, Liberty head coach Jeff Maren mixed and matched numerous pairs. Six players, Hassey, Yang, Rebekah Jenkins, Maria Khval, Belen Rivera and Valerie Thong, finished the fall with six doubles wins apiece.
Morehead State posted a 3-17 mark in 2013, but recorded strong outings during the fall season. The Eagles' lineup, which features only one upperclassman, went 31-9 in singles play and 9-3 in doubles tilts during its fall tournament schedule. Sophomore Briar Preston and freshman Hayley Wild led the way with identical 7-0 singles records, while the tandem of Lissa Pacheco-Brousseau and Kennedy Womach posted a team-best 4-0 doubles mark.
North Carolina Central recorded a strong 14-8 record last season. The Eagles advanced to the MEAC Tournament semifinals, before falling to Morgan State, 4-2. NCCU graduated just one player from last season's squad and return a trio of players, Aissa Muamba, Ekaterina Nekrasova and Rebecca Wood, who combined to win 49 singles matches during the spring campaign. Nekrasova and Wood led the team with a 12-4 doubles mark, competing at both the No. 1 and No. 2 positions.
"After a solid fall season and two weeks of great practices leading up to this weekend, we feel both prepared and excited to compete," commented Maren. "We'll be facing two strong teams on Saturday and know that we must play our best to succeed. However, the girls are unified and ready for the challenge."
Following tomorrow's matches, Liberty will return to the court on Feb. 25 against Big 12 foe West Virginia. The contest is slated to begin at 3 p.m. at the Charleston Indoor Raquet Club in Charleston, W.Va.