The Liberty Flames men's tennis squad notched a big victory on Thursday afternoon, defeating the defending Big South champion Winthrop Eagles by a score of 4-3. Thursday's victory marked the first time the Flames have beaten the Eagles on the road in program history.
With the win, Liberty improves to 12-8 on the season, including a program-best 5-2 Big South record. The Eagles fall to 11-6 on the season with a 4-1 Big South mark.
Winthrop began the competition clinching the doubles point by winning two of the three doubles matches. Dillon Segur and Egon Samaai edged Dylan Comerford and Peter Nagovnak, 8-6 from the No. 1 doubles position. The Eagles notched victories from the No. 2 and 3 positions, respectively, to claim the early 1-0 advantage.
Winthrop extended its lead to 2-0 when Tremayne Mitchell defeated Segur in straight sets from the No. 1 singles position, 6-3, 6-4.
Liberty stormed back, winning two consecutive matches to even the score at two apiece. Samaai picked up the Flames' first point after taking down Michael Chen in three sets. The South Africa native cruised past Chen in the first set, 6-0 before falling in the second set, 6-4. Samaai bounced back to win the third set by a score of 6-4, cutting the deficit to one.
Sam Matheson provided the first of two equalizers after besting Comerford in three sets. Matheson fell behind after dropping the first set, 6-3, but was able to maintain his composure by besting Comerford in the next two sets, 7-5, 7-6.
Winthrop regained the lead when Nagovnak defeated Jason Burgess from the No. 5 singles position, 6-4, 6-7, 6-2.
Senior Jorge Azuero tied the match at 3-3 after downing Steven Patrick in three hard-fought sets. Azuero fell to Patrick in the first set, 6-7 to set up for a dramatic match from the No. 3 slot. The Colombia native etched victories in the second and third sets, 6-2, 6-2, to even the match at three with one singles contest left.
Freshman Diego Castano provided the clinching victory from the No. 6 singles position. Castano downed Ruben Franzanti in the first set, 6-3, before dropping the second set by a score of 6-4. With the third set tied at 6-6, Castano delivered the final blow to the Eagles when he recorded the final point to capture the 7-6 third set victory, claiming the 4-3 match.
"I'm so proud of our team," commented head coach Chris Johnson. "We needed to find out how deep we needed to go on the road and we found it today. It's a big win for our program."
Liberty returns to action Wednesday when the Flames travel to Williamsburg, Va. to take on the William & Mary Tribe at 4 p.m.
Liberty 4, Winthrop 3