Off to its best start in program history, the Liberty Flames tennis team begins Big South conference play this week with a home match today versus Longwood and a road contest against UNC Asheville on Friday. Today's Longwood match will be played indoors at the Sports Racket, beginning at 1 p.m., while the UNC Asheville tilt is also slated to start at 1 p.m.
After a pair of home victories this past weekend, Liberty improved its record to 6-1 on the season. It is the first 6-1 start to a season in program history. The Flames defeated three-time defending Ohio Valley conference champion Eastern Kentucky on Saturday, 6-1, before blanking Guilford at the Hershey Tennis Courts on Sunday, 7-0.
A pair of Flames, Shea Thomas and Stan Vaughan, posted perfect 2-0 marks in singles play last week. In doubles play, the tandems of Shea Thomas and Egon Samaai in the No. 1 position and Dillon Segur and Jorge Azuero in the No. 2 spot both notched wins in each of their two matches over the weekend.
Thomas paces the Flames with an unblemished singles record of 7-0, while Siim Tuus is a perfect 6-0 in the No. 1 singles position. Thomas' seven singles wins ranks him first in the Big South. Samaai and Vaughan are tied for third on the squad with five singles victories, competing in the No. 5 and No. 6 spots, respectively. As a team, Liberty is 36-5 in singles tilts.
Liberty's No. 1 and No. 2 doubles pairs of Thomas and Samaai and Segur and Azuero are a combined 11-1 this season. Overall, the Flames are 15-4 in doubles matches.
Today's match versus the Lancers will be the 19th meeting all-time between the two Commonwealth schools and the first contest as Big South Conference opponents. Liberty is 14-4 against Longwood, including a 9-1 mark all-time at home. Last season, the Flames defeated the Lancers in Farmville, 5-2.
Longwood is 3-4 (0-1 Big South) on the season. The Lancers are coming off a 7-0 setback to No. 22 Wake Forest this past Sunday. Longwood is 11-27 in singles play as a team and 7-10 overall in doubles contests. In the No. 1 singles position, Giorgi Khmiadashvili leads the Lancers with a 4-3 record this season. Khmiadashvili and doubles partner Daniel Elston are 2-3 as Longwood's No. 1 pair.
UNC Asheville is 5-3 overall this season, with each of its wins coming at home. The Flames are 4-5 all-time in Asheville and 8-13 overall against the Bulldogs. Liberty blanked UNC Asheville 7-0 last season in Lynchburg.
Adrien Langeard is 6-1 this season in the No. 1 singles position to pace the Bulldogs, while No. 5 singles player John Schubel is 5-1, which ranks second on the squad. UNC Asheville is 29-16 as a team in singles tilts and 7-14 in doubles matches.
After Friday's match, Liberty travels to Hawaii for a trio of matches, beginning on Tuesday at noon versus BYU Hawaii.
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