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Liberty Puts Undefeated Record to the Test this Weekend
The Liberty Lady Flames tennis team treks to the Midwest this weekend for a pair of challenging matches against Big 12 opponents. On Saturday, Liberty squares off against No. 55 Kansas State at 1 p.m., before facing Kansas on Sunday at noon.
The Lady Flames are off to their first 3-0 start in program history after picking up a 6-1 win versus another Big 12 foe, West Virginia, last Saturday. Liberty has won each of its three matches this season by 6-1 final tallies. This weekend's tilts will be the first-ever matches between the Lady Flames and both Kansas State and Kansas.
Maria Khval, the reigning Big South Women's Tennis Player of the Week, along with Mariely Hassey and Belen Rivera, lead the Lady Flames this season with perfect 3-0 singles records each. In doubles tilts, Khval and Rebekah Jenkins are a team-best 3-0 in the No. 1 position. Liberty has collected the doubles point in each of its first three contests this season. As a team, the Lady Flames are 15-3 in singles matches and 7-2 in doubles tilts this year.
Kansas State (1-1) opened its season at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Kickoff Weekend in Athens, Ga. The Wildcats split a pair of matches, losing in a tightly contested season opener against No. 51 Arkansas, 4-2, then closed out the weekend with a marathon effort to defeat No. 75 Elon, 4-3.
The Wildcats were paced in singles by senior Petra Niedermayerova. The two-time All-American and three-time All-Big 12 selection captured a pair of victories at the number one singles position over ITA ranked opponents. With the wins, Niedermayerova improved her record this season to 11-4 overall including a 4-1 mark against ITA ranked opponents.
The Wildcats will be the fourth ranked opponent that the Lady Flames have faced all-time in program history. Liberty has dropped its first three contests against ranked foes, including a tough 4-3 setback last season to No. 72 East Carolina. Kansas State is one of two programs on Liberty's schedule that are currently ranked in the latest ITA tennis rankings. The Lady Flames are also set to face No. 60 North Texas on March 15.
Kansas opens its 2014 season today against No. 36 Nebraska, before returning home on Saturday to face Liberty. In 2013, the Jayhawks posted an 11-10 overall record and 2-7 in conference matches. During the recently completed tournament schedule, Maria Belen Ludeuna and Paulina Los paced Kansas with nine and eight singles wins, respectively. In doubles matches, Ludeuna and Maria Jose Cardona each posted five victories apiece to top the team.
After Sunday's match, Liberty takes a 13-day break before returning to action on Feb. 15 at George Washington.