Liberty's No. 2 singles star, Sam Matheson, garners inclusion on the Big South Conference Men's Tennis All-Conference singles squad, as announced by the league office. Teammate Jorge Azuero was named to the Big South All-Academic squad while Liberty Flames Head Coach Chris Johnson was named the 2015 Big South Men's Tennis Coach of the Year.
Matheson joined the team after competing for one year at Middle Tennessee State University. The standout sophomore wasted no time in making his presence felt on the Liberty squad. The New Zealand native led the team in singles play with a 14-7 overall record, including a 7-1 Big South mark. Matheson has won eight of his last 10 matches heading into the Big South Men's Tennis Championship.
The bulk of Matheson's wins, 13 to be exact, came from the No. 2 singles position. The sophomore's success from the No. 2 singles slot solidified Matheson's dominance at the position, garnering the Big South No. 2 Singles Flight Winner.
Azuero becomes just the third Flame to earn a spot on the Big South All-Academic squad three years in a row. Azuero received the recognition in both 2013 and 2014 before being placed on the 2015 squad. On the court, Azuero recorded the third most wins on the team with 12. With Azuero's 12 wins, the Colombia native now ranks fourth all-time in singles wins in Liberty history with 60.
Coach Johnson records his first Big South Men's Tennis Coach of the Year honor after leading the Flames to a 6-2 Big South record. Johnson was named the 2008 Big South Women's Tennis Coach of the Year after leading the Lady Flames to a 13-4 overall record, including a 4-1 mark in Big South action. Liberty turned heads in Big South action this year, as the Flames finished second in the conference standings, despite being picked as the No. 5 team in the preseason rankings. Liberty recorded 13 wins this season, running Johnson's win total to 98 overall wins, one shy of tying former Flames' coach Carl Diemer for the most overall wins in program history.
Radford's Patrick O'Keefe was voted the Big South Conference Men's Tennis Player of the Year while Campbell's Lukas Schaefer was selected as the Big South Freshman of the Year. Peter Nagovnak of Winthrop was named the 2015 Big South Scholar Athlete of the Year.
The first round of the Big South Men's Tennis Championship gets under way tomorrow with a pair of first round/quarterfinal games beginning at 9 a.m. and concluding at 3 p.m. The No. 2 seed Flames open their tournament play on Sunday at noon when Liberty squares off against host No. 7 seed UNC Asheville.
2015 Big South Conference Men's Tennis All-Conference and Award Winners
Men's Tennis Flight Winners No. 1 singles – Patrick O'Keefe, Radford No. 2 singles – Sam Matheson, Liberty No. 3 singles – Lukas Schaefer, Campbell No. 4 singles – Korhan Ates, Gardner-Webb No. 5 singles – Brendan Dempsey, Gardner- Webb Danny Bruce, Presbyterian No. 6 singles – Ben Kelley, Presbyterian
No. 1 doubles – Kaue Pereira and Philippe Tsangarides, Coastal Carolina No. 2 doubles – Ben Kelley and Joel Roberts, Presbyterian No. 3 doubles – Steven Billington and Nicolas Rakitin, Campbell All-Conference Singles Patrick O'Keefe, Radford Steven Billington, Campbell Philippe Tsangarides, Coastal Carolina Sam Matheson, Liberty Tremayne Mitchell, Winthrop Dylan Comerford, Winthrop Dan Elston, Longwood Kaue Pereira, Coastal Carolina All-Conference Doubles Philippe Tsangarides and Kaue Pereira, Coastal Carolina Dylan Comerford and Peter Nagovnak, Winthrop Ben Kelley and Joel Roberts, Presbyterian Ernest Alberch and Nikita Zverkov, Gardner-Webb All-Academic Adrien Rossignon, Campbell Renan Samed, Coastal Carolina Brendan Dempsey, Gardner-Webb Jorge Azuero, Liberty Dan Elston, Longwood Diego Manzanas, Presbyterian Javier Waase, Radford Daniel Kripak, UNC Asheville Peter Nagovnak, Winthrop Player of the Year Patrick O'Keefe, Radford Freshman of the Year Lukas Schaefer, Campbell Scholar-Athlete of the Year Peter Nagovnak, Winthrop Coach of the Year Chris Johnson, Liberty
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