Siim Tuus (left) and Shea Thomas (right)
On the heels of a highly successful 15-8 campaign last season, the 2013 Liberty Flames men's tennis team jumped out to its best 10-match start in school history. The Flames ran their record to 9-1 on the season with their lone loss coming from the rackets of William & Mary in mid-February. Currently the Flames record sits at 9-6 heading into their next match against Presbyterian College. Liberty began conference play boasting a record of 2-0, a first is program history. The Flames defeated Longwood University (7-0) and UNC Asheville (4-3) in back-to-back contests in March.
Head coach Chris Johnson, currently coaching in his seventh season, took over a Flames program that finished 2-14 in 2006, posting a 71-71 record since 2007. Johnson's record places him second all-time in program history for wins behind former head coach Carl Diemer (99, 1987-1997).
No. 1 singles player Siim Tuus currently holds a 10-4 record for the spring season and has totaled 70 wins over his career, placing him second on the Liberty career wins list. Tuus needs just two more wins to tie the mark set by Giancarlo Lemmi from 2008-2012. Tuus set a new career high with 21 wins last season, placing him atop the program leaderboard for most single-season victories tied with Giancarlo Lemmi (2011), Chad Simpson (2010) and Louis Steyn (2010).
Enjoying his best year of his Liberty career, Shea Thomas has been playing well since the fall campaign. The junior leads the Flames with an 11-4 mark on the season. Including the fall season, Thomas has earned 20 victories putting him one win away from tying the single season wins record. In October, Thomas took home Liberty's first UVA Fall Classic singles title defeating Jonny Cornish of Virginia 6-3, 6-2. Thomas was also part of the first tandem to take home a doubles title at the UVA Fall Classic, partnering with Egon Samaai, triumphing over William and Mary's Ben Hoogland and Adrian Vodislav 8-5.
Currently, the Flames have the possibility of having all six singles players finishing with double-digit wins for the first time in school history. In addition to Tuus and Thomas, No. 4 Jorge Azuero boasts a 10-2 record giving Liberty three players with 10 or more singles victories on the season. No. 5 singles player Samaai holds an 8-5, No. 6 Stan Vaughan is 8-6 and No. 3 Dillon Segur has earned 7 victories.
The No. 1 doubles team of Samaai and Thomas has posted at 17-7 mark this season, placing the team in the top four all-time for single season wins. The duo is on pace to finish in the top two by season's end. The Flames No. 2 and No.3 doubles teams of Azuero and Segur and Tuus and Vaughn have both seen success this season as well. Azuero and Segur hold a 9-3 record, while Tuus and Vaughn currently round out Liberty's doubles tandem with six wins. The team of Azuero and Segur started the season 7-0, dropping their first match on March 12, against BYU Hawaii.
The Flames return to action Thursday, March 28, in a home meeting against Big South conference opponent Presbyterian College at 1 p.m.
Written by Danny Smith, an intern in the Liberty University Athletics Communications office.
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