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Lady Flames' Spring Slate Released
A youthful but talented Liberty women's tennis team will face a strong schedule of teams for the 2012 spring season, as head coach Chris Johnson has released the team's spring schedule.
Aside from the always competitive Big South slate, Liberty will match up with three teams who ended last season ranked inside the ITA Atlantic Region's Top 10—Marshall, Richmond and Virginia Tech. The Lady Flames ended the 2011 campaign ranked No. 10 in the same listing, marking the first end-of-season regional ranking for the women's program.
East Tennessee State and UNC Greensboro also highlight the out-of-conference schedule, as the Lady Bucs claimed the Atlantic Sun Championship last season, and the Spartans were runners-up in the SoCon Championship.
For the fourth consecutive season, the Lady Flames' schedule will kick off at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. Liberty will face Georgetown and Appalachian State on back-to-back days, Jan. 27 and 28.
After traveling to face Richmond on Feb. 3, Liberty's women will host Averett at the Sports Racket across town the next day. The facility, which has hosted Liberty matches in the past, has gone through extensive improvements since Sherwin Cook purchased the long-time Lynchburg tennis facility and donated it to Liberty.
Next, the Lady Flames will enter a nine-match road stretch, which will take the team to six different states.
Virginia Tech (Feb. 5), Longwood (Feb. 9) and Lipscomb (Feb. 11), open the line of away matches, before Liberty plays its first Big South matchups for 2012, meeting Charleston Southern (Feb. 24), Coastal Carolina (Feb. 25) and Radford (Feb. 29) in succession.
The final three matches of the away stretch will open the month of March, pitting the Lady Flames against Marshall (March 2), East Tennessee State (March 3) and UMBC (March 7).
In its return home, Liberty will host Big South foe Gardner-Webb on March 9.
A matchup with Coker College on March 10 follows, while the Lady Flames will meet with Chicago State on March 14 as part of their spring break trip to Florida.
After facing Presbyterian College (March 25) in a Big South contest, Liberty will settle in at home for five of its final six regular-season matches.
Norfolk State will be welcomed to the Hill City on March 28, while Big South matches with Campbell (March 30), who makes its conference debut this season, and Winthrop (March 31) close out the month.
James Madison (April 5) treks to Lynchburg to open the month of April, with the Lady Flames' final home and Big South contest being played the following day against UNC Asheville.
The final regular-season opponent of the year will be UNC Greensboro on April 12.
The Big South Women's Tennis Championship, which takes place in Asheville, N.C., is scheduled for April 19-21. The opening rounds of the NCAA Championships are then scheduled for May 11-13, and the finals May 17-28.
The Lady Flames are coming off a successful 2011 spring season, where the team earned its first share of a regular-season title in the Big South Conference, while also advancing to the semifinals of the Big South Championships.
While the team graduated three seniors, lone upperclassman Carol Lobel and a group of five experienced sophomores return for the Lady Flames. Cameron Richard garnered 2011 Big South Freshman of the Year honors, while Annisha Domenech, Rebekah Jenkins and Alexandra Sheeran saw extensive court time last year. Jessie Boda, who has had a productive fall season, rounds out the five second-year student-athletes.
Head coach Chris Johnson also adds freshmen Nicola Wellman and Brittany Yang to the 2012 roster, with the recruiting class earning honorable mention recognition from the Tennis Recruiting Network.