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Lady Flames, Hokies to Square Off on Friday
Playing its lone match of the week, the Liberty women's tennis team is set to host No. 61 Virginia Tech at 5:30 p.m., Friday, at Lynchburg's Sports Racket. The match is the Lady Flames' final home match scheduled to take place at the indoor facility this season, with the team's remaining six home matches slated to take place on Liberty's Hershey-Esbenshade Tennis Courts.
Liberty is looking to build momentum as it approaches Big South Conference play, which the team begins next week. Last week, the Lady Flames posted their first victory of the spring, as they defeated Longwood, 4-3, in Farmville, Va.
Sophomore Rebekah Jenkins received recognition for her play in the match, being named the Big South's Women's Tennis Player of the Week for contests played Feb. 6-12. Jenkins went 2-0, earning wins in the No. 1 doubles match and the No. 3 singles match. Jenkins' honor came on the heels of Alexandra Sheeran receiving the same award the previous week (Jan. 30-Feb. 5). The sophomore duo leads the team in doubles victories, winning three out of their four matches.
Meanwhile, Brittany Yang has had a strong start to her freshman campaign, posting a 3-1 record. The Newnan, Ga., native has played in the third, fourth and fifth spots in head coach Chris Johnson's singles lineup this spring.
Virginia Tech, ranked 61st in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) Women's National Team Rankings, is the first of two ranked teams the Lady Flames will encounter this season. Marshall, who Liberty is scheduled to face on March 2 in Huntington, W. Va., is currently ranked No. 62.
The match will serve as the Hokies' first competition away from home this spring, as all eight of the team's previous matches took place at the Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center in Blacksburg, Va. Holding a 6-2 record, Virginia Tech's two losses came at the hands of ranked opponents. No. 9 Virginia swept the Hokies, while No. 40 VCU picked up a 5-2 road win on Wednesday.
Both teams have faced Appalachian State this season. Liberty dropped a tough 4-3 contest to the Mountaineers in a neutral-site match, while Virginia Tech picked up a 7-0 home win.
Having strong senior leadership, the Hokies are led by Martha Blakely and Shannon Betts, who have posted individual records of 6-1 and 5-1, respectively, this season. Blakely, who is the ACC's most recent player of the week, plays the lead singles match for eighth-year head coach Terry Ann Zawacki-Woods. Betts has contested all her matches in the No. 3 singles position.
The duo of Emily Lauten and Isel Martinez-Marcos lead the Hokies in doubles victories with a 5-1 mark this spring. Additionally, Betts and fellow senior Katie Blow are 4-0 in doubles competition.
This is the fourth meeting between the programs, with Virginia Tech taking each of the previous matchups. The programs last met in 2010, when the Hokies picked up a 5-2 home win on April 18.