For the third year in a row, the Liberty Flames tennis squad has started the season with a 2-0 mark. Liberty edged past Morehead State, 5-2, on Friday evening, just several hours after blanking James Madison, 7-0.
Liberty (2-0) defeated the Eagles (0-2) for the second consecutive season and is now 2-0 all-time against Morehead State.
The Flames opened the match on the downside of the doubles point as Dillon Segur and Egon Samaai fell in the No. 1 spot to Ritchie Kruunenberg and Gabriel Ruiz, 6-2. Liberty bounced back when Jorge Azuero and Diego Castano evened the doubles advantage at 1-1 following their 6-4 victory over Sabastian Penalosa and Nick Mercer.
The doubles point fell in favor of the Flames thanks to newcomers Sam Matheson and David Bush, holding on to a 6-4 advantage over Enrique Samudio and Jose Zurro.
Azuero extended the Liberty lead to 2-0 after defeating Mercer in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2 from the No. 4 spot.
The Eagles clawed back, winning the next point from the No. 3 position with Samaai falling in two hard fought sets, 6-4, 6-1.
The Flames extended the lead back to two with the help of Matheson's straight set victory. After coming back from behind in the first set to win 7-6 (9-7), the Middle Tennessee State transfer cruised past Penalosa 6-3 to put Liberty ahead 3-1.
Morehead State's Kruunenberg closed the gap back to one with a three-set victory over a fighting Segur. Segur took the first set with ease, 6-0, but had to fight over the next two sets. Kruunenberg captured the second set, 6-3, leading to a dramatic third set. After trading game-for-game, Kruunenberg pulled away from Segur, winning the third set 7-5 and pulling the Eagles to within one at 3-2.
With the match on the line, Liberty turned to its two freshmen, Diego Castano and David Bush. Bush, who had already aided in the doubles clinching point, succeeded in elevating the Flames over Morehead State, this time providing the match-clinching performance.
Competing from the No. 6 position, Bush glided through a straight-set victory over Samudio, 6-0, 6-2 to give Liberty the 4-2 advantage, locking the match for the red and blue.
With the match already sealed, Castano dismantled his opponent, upending Zurro in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2 for the 5-2 final victory.
"Liberty tennis took a big step forward this weekend. Our team responded extremely well today as we played and beat two very good Division I tennis teams on the same day. We're very proud of our team's effort this weekend," stated men's tennis assistant coach Rich Benson.
The Flames turn their attention to the University of Virginia where Liberty will take on the No. 3 ranked Cavaliers in a matchup on Sunday in Charlottesville. The contest is slated to begin at noon.
Liberty 5, Morehead State 2