Shea Thomas (left) and Egon Samaai (right) lead Liberty with nine doubles wins this season.
Looking to remain perfect in Big South conference matches, the Liberty Flames tennis team travels south to face Winthrop tomorrow at 2 p.m., before squaring off versus Gardner-Webb on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. The Flames boast a 9-4 overall record and are 2-0 in Big South play for the first time in program history. Liberty fell to Charlotte on Tuesday, 6-1, in its most recent match. Jorge Azuero captured the Flames' lone point of the afternoon with a three-set win over Paul Cisti in the No. 4 position.
Liberty is led by Shea Thomas' 10 wins in singles play this season. Azuero and senior Siim Tuus are a close second with nine singles victories apiece. Stan Vaughan (8-4), Egon Samaai (8-3) and Dillon Segur (7-6) round out the Flames' singles competitors.
In doubles play, Thomas and Samaai have a team-high nine wins, while Segur and Azuero are second on the squad with eight tallies.
Overall, Liberty is 56-21 in singles tilts this year and 23-12 in doubles matches.
Winthrop enters Friday's match with a 5-10 (1-1 Big South) overall record, with five of its loses coming against ranked opponents. The Eagles are 3-1 at home so far this year, while Liberty is 2-2 on the season away from Lynchburg.
As a team, Winthrop is 31-54 in singles contests and 17-22 overall in doubles matches. Juan Boada has six singles wins to lead the squad. Pacing the team in doubles wins with five are Boada and Steven Patrick, in the No. 3 position, and Peter Nagovnak and Yuta Hirokawa, in the No. 2 spot.
Gardner-Webb is 7-5 overall this season and 0-1 in Big South matches, after falling to Campbell in its last meeting, 7-0. The loss to the Camels was the first home setback of the season for the Runnin' Bulldogs, following six victories to begin the year in Boiling Springs.
Brendan Dempsey and Ernest Alberch pace Gardner-Webb with eight and seven singles wins, respectively. In doubles action, Alberch and partner Nikita Zverkov are a team-best 8-1, with seven of those victories coming in the No. 2 position. The Runnin' Bulldogs are 40-31 overall in singles matches this season and 17-18 in doubles tilts.
Liberty is 7-5 all-time against Gardner-Webb, including a win last season in Lynchburg, 5-2.
After Saturday's match, Liberty continues Big South play on March 28 at home against Presbyterian College. The match versus the Blue Hose is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at the Hershey-Esbenshade Tennis Courts.
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