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Dukes Use Singles Wins to Capture Victory
The loss snapped a three-game winning spurt for the Flames, and drops Liberty to 10-5 on the season. In direct contrast, James Madison's victory ends a short two-game slide for the Dukes, and raises its mark to 3-10.
The match opened with an 8-1 win by James Madison's Matt King and Mike Smith at No. 1 doubles, as the pair ended a six-match winning streak for Liberty's Clay Cypert and Giancarlo Lemmi, giving the Dukes an early edge.
But Liberty battled back at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles to capture the game's opening point, with a pair of close victories. Gregorio Machado and Chad Simpson were able to knock off James Madison's Jared Robinson and Brian Rubenstein, 8-6, evening the doubles point after the No. 2 matchup.
Louis Steyn and Juan Reyes completed the comeback for the Flames in a tiebreaker at No. 3 doubles, as the doubles tandem moved to 10-3 on the year together with a 9-8 (5) win over Ville Maaranen and Tommi Nissinen to give Liberty a hard-fought one team point.
Five of the six singles matchups followed suit, as the victor needed three sets or extra games to secure the victory.
The close singles battles began in the top spot of the lineup, as Robinson evened his overall mark on the year to 12-12 with a 3-6, 6-5, 6-0 come-from-behind victory over Cypert. The setback to the Ada, Okla., native ended the junior's three-game winning streak and evened the overall match score at 1-1.
The Dukes then rolled to a victory at No. 2, as Smith dispatched Steyn, 6-3, 6-4, to keep the junior from winning his 10th singles match of the year in the second spot of head coach Chris Johnson's lineup.
Nissinen got James Madison within a point of a victory, with a 7-5 (5), 6-4 win over Simpson at No. 3 singles, as the freshman won for the third time in his last four singles bouts.
The lower half of Liberty's lineup tried its best to keep the Flames in the match, picking up wins at No. 4 and No. 6 singles. Lemmi downed Rubenstein, 7-6 (7), 6-4, in the fourth spot, while Reyes picked up his 10th win at No. 6 singles on the year by rallying for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Voznenko.
With the overall match knotted a 3-3, the No. 5 singles continued the three-set trend, as Maaranen was victorious in the opening set, 6-3, for the Dukes, while Machado gave the Flames hope with a 6-1 second-set victory. But, Maaranen was able to rebound from the second-set defeat to secure the Dukes a 4-3 in their first home match of the spring season, 6-1.
The Flames will look to rebound this weekend, when they pair up with the women's team for two Big South road contests. Liberty will square off against UNC Asheville on Saturday and Gardner-Webb on Sunday.