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Eagles Drop Flames in Big South Opener
The Flames, who had won three in a row and seven of their previous nine matches, fall to 7-4 on the season and 0-1 in Big South play. The win snapped a three-game losing skid for the home squad, moving Winthrop's record to 8-7 on the year and to 2-1 in league action.
All three doubles matches remained close, including the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles bouts being decided by a single game.
Liberty opened the match with a 9-8 victory, as the tandem of Clay Cypert and Giancarlo Lemmi knocked off Daniel Daudt and Sergey Belov to win its third-straight match and move to 8-3 in doubles action this year.
The Eagles quickly answered back with a 9-8 win of their own at No. 2 doubles, as Roy Sichel and Nadav Ruppin clipped the pair of Chad Simpson and Gregorio Machado by a point, leaving the match's first team point up to the final doubles contest.
Liberty's Louis Steyn and Juan Reyes kept the match close, trying to extend their winning streak to four, but Winthrop's Arthur Takahashi and Deigo Toledo were too much, securing an opening 1-0 lead for the Eagles with an 8-6 win.
Unfortunately for the Flames, the singles bouts did not follow the closeness of the doubles matches, as Winthrop convincingly won all six matches in straight sets.
Sichel got the singles sweeps rolling for the home squad, ending Cypert's three-match winning streak with a 6-2, 6-0 win at No. 1 singles.
Steyn was able to keep things a bit closer at No. 2 singles, but still fell to Belov, who moved to 5-3 on the season in the second position for the Eagles, with a 6-4, 6-2 victory.
The winning ways remained in Winthrop's favor, as Ruppin pushed his victory string to seven-straight matches, as the freshman defeated Simpson 6-2, 6-1 at No. 3 to seal the overall match for the Eagles.
The Flames had their best chance to pick up a singles victory at No. 4, as Lemmi kept things close against Toledo, but Winthrop's junior outlasted Liberty's first-year player 7-6, 6-3.
The Eagles clinched the conference sweep with two final victories at No. 5 and No. 6 singles, as Daudt defeated Machado (6-1, 6-4) and Takahashi dominated Reyes (6-0, 6-0), respectively.
The Flames will be back in action next week when they take on various opponents during their annual Spring Break trip. This year, Liberty will be competing four-straight days in Hilton Head, S.C., beginning on Monday.