Liberty sophomore Jorge Azuero has been named the Big South Men's Tennis Scholar Athlete of the year, as announced this evening in Rock Hill, S.C. at the conference's annual year-end banquet. Additionally, junior Shea Thomas earned all-conference singles honors, as well as all-conference doubles recognition with partner Egon Samaai.
Azuero becomes the second Flame ever to earn Scholar Athlete of the Year honors, joining Louis Steyn who was tabbed the award winner in 2010. In addition to being named Scholar Athlete of the Year, the Cali, Colombia native was named to the Big South all-academic team for the first time in his career. Azuero holds a 4.0 GPA as a finance major.
Thomas earns the first Big South all-conference singles nod of his career, joining Ricardo Shinozaki (2001), Braen Aneiros (2004) and Siim Tuus (2010-11-12) as the only Liberty student-athletes to be recognized on the all-conference singles' squad. The Petaluma, Calif. native posted a 15-6 overall singles record during the dual-match season, marking the first time a Flame has won 15 singles matches since Juan Reyes registerd a 15-7 record in 2009. In conference clashes, Thomas tallied a 5-3 mark. Dating back to the fall tournament schedule, Thomas has won a total of 26 singles tilts, setting a new Liberty single-season record for singles victories.
Thomas and Samaai's all-conference doubles award marks the second consecutive season a Liberty duo has been named to the team. Last season, Giancarlo Lemmi and Tuus were tabbed to the squad. Thomas and Samaai played 20 of their 21 doubles contests in the No. 1 position, posting an overall record of 14-7 (6-2 Big South). Thanks to their 6-2 conference record, the Flames' tandem was declared a flight winner in the No. 1 spot along with Winthrop's Dylan Comerford and Peter Nagovnak. This marks just the second time ever a Liberty duo has been declared a doubles flight winner. In 2010, Steyn and Reyes collected the honor while playing in the No. 3 position.
The Big South Player of the Year honor was awarded to Campbell's Fernando Guillen, while Ivar Aramburu of Winthrop was tabbed the Freshman of the Year. Coastal Carolina's Chris Powers was voted the Coach of the Year after leading the Chanticleers to a perfect 8-0 Big South record and the conference's regular-season title.
While the Big South Men's Tennis Championship opened today, Liberty does not play until tomorrow afternoon. The No. 7 seeded Flames will square off against No. 2 seed Campbell, beginning no later than 12:30 p.m. at the Winthrop Memorial Courts.
2013 Big South Conference Men's Tennis Award Winners
All-Academic Team Adrien Rossignon, Campbell Yusuke Kusuda, Coastal Carolina Ernest Alberch, Gardner-Webb Jorge Azuero, Liberty Edward Becker, Longwood Gonzalo Asis, Presbyterian College Randall Carter, Radford John Schubel, UNC Asheville Dylan Comerford, Winthrop
Men's Tennis Flight Winners No. 1 singles – Stijn Meulemans, Radford No. 2 singles – Ivar Aramburu, Winthrop No. 3 singles – Garik Yedigarian, Coastal Carolina No. 4 singles – Matias Di Pasquale, Coastal Carolina No. 5 singles – Josep Baro, Campbell No. 6 singles – Gonzalo Asis, Presbyterian College
No. 1 Doubles – Egon Samaai/Shea Thomas, Liberty Dylan Comerford/Peter Nagovnak, Winthrop No. 2 Doubles – Rafael Berghaus/Grayson Mills, Presbyterian College Leo Christofides/John Karle, Coastal Carolina
No. 3 Doubles – Yusuke Kusuda/Ted Nilsson, Coastal Carolina
All-Conference Singles Fernando Guillen, Campbell Adam Knutsson-Sundblad, Gardner-Webb Stijn Meulemans, Radford Garik Yedigarian, Coastal Carolina Adrien Langeard, UNC Asheville Shea Thomas, Liberty Yusuke Kusuda, Coastal Carolina Grayson Mills, Presbyterian College
All-Conference Doubles Fernando Guillen/Adrien Rossignin, Campbell Shea Thomas/Egon Samaai, Liberty Dylan Comerford/Peter Nagovnak, Winthrop Andrew Brigham/William O'Connell
Player of the Year Fernando Guillen, Campbell
Freshman of the Year Ivar Aramburu, Winthrop
Scholar Athlete of the Year Jorge Azuero, Liberty
Coach of the Year Chris Powers, Coastal Carolina
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