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Flames to Face Pair of Conference Matches
After splitting a pair of matches early in the week, the Liberty men's tennis team is set for back-to-back Big South Conference contests this weekend.
Liberty will open its weekend slate by travelling to Radford for a 2 p.m. match against the Highlanders, Saturday. Then, on Sunday, the Flames host Coastal Carolina, which is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start at the Hershey Tennis Courts.
Currently standing at 8-8 and 1-2 in Big South matches, the Flames will look to use the weekend's contests to move up the conference standings. At the moment, Liberty is tied with Coastal Carolina for fourth place in the Big South.
Liberty's men are coming off a come-from-behind victory over non-conference opponent Longwood, where they used four singles wins to claim the dual victory. Sophomore Siim Tuus provided the clinching win in the No. 2 singles match, as he picked up his eighth singles win of the season.
The Flames will face off with a hot Radford team, Saturday, with the Highlanders winning their previous 12 matches. The team's last loss came to conference opponent Winthrop, 4-3, on March 4. Radford is currently 3-1 in Big South action, which sets the team tied for second place with Gardner-Webb.
Ivan Salec has paced the team from the lead singles position, posting a 16-1 record on the season. While he has won 11-straight singles matches, he currently holds the third-longest win streak on his team. Thomas Dehaen and Stijn Meulemans are in the middle of longer streaks, winning their last 12 and 14 singles matches, respectively. Overall, the team's singles record is 89-22 (80.2 percent).
In doubles, Dahaen and Salec have paired together for a 14-4 record, with all matches being contested at the No. 1 doubles spot in Radford's lineup. Meulemans and Igor Ogrizek are close behind, having won 11 doubles matches in the No. 2 position.
The Flames will look to work off last year's success against the Highlanders, which saw Liberty hand Radford its first conference loss since 2009, taking the match by a score of 4-3 on Liberty Mountain.
Liberty then hosts Coastal Carolina, Sunday afternoon. The Chanticleers are 8-7 this season and, as alluded to, hold a 1-2 record in conference matches. While Coastal Carolina defeated Gardner-Webb 7-0, they have fallen to Radford and Winthrop, both by scores of 5-2.
Yusuke Kusuda lead's the Chanticleers charge, posting a 12-2 mark this season. This includes a 10-1 record at the No. 3 spot. Meanwhile, in doubles, two combinations have eclipsed 10 wins this season. Peter Billingham and Matt Gordon are 11-3, while Alex Funkhouser and Danny Heidecker are 10-4. Both duos have played in the No. 1 and No. 2 positions, but Billingham and Gordon are the typical leading pair, posting an 8-3 record at No. 1 doubles.
Fans not able to attend the contest between Liberty and Coastal Carolina can follow live stats. The matchups will be posted shortly before the start time of 1 p.m., with updates coming throughout the match.