For the third time in the last four seasons, the Liberty men's tennis team has been picked to finish fourth in the Big South men's tennis preseason poll, as voted on by the conference's head coaches.
The Flames garnered one first-place vote and 56 points overall in the poll. Coastal Carolina collected four first-place votes and 70 points overall, garnering the No. 1 spot in the preseason poll for the third consecutive season.
The Flames concluded the 2015 season with a 14-10 overall mark, including a program-best six conference victories. Liberty also posted its highest year-end regional ranking in program history, claiming the No. 8 spot in the Atlantic Region on June 4. Head Coach Chris Johnson needs just one win to eclipse the century mark in victories for his career.
The Flames garnered the No. 2 seed for the 2015 Big South Men's Tennis Championship, the highest seed in program history. Liberty bested No. 7 seed UNC Asheville by a score of 4-2 before falling in the semifinals to eventual champion Winthrop, 4-0.
The Flames return a talented core in Egon Samaai and Sam Matheson. Liberty also features three veterans in Jason Burgess, David Bush and Diego Castano. Alongside the returning Flames will be a strong freshman class of Max Borcuti, Eddie Gutierrez, Ryker Heller and Alex Poynter.
Winthrop followed the Chanticleers in second place with two first-place votes and 65 points, just one point ahead of Campbell who collected 64 points and one first-place tally. The Flames received the fourth slot, 10 points ahead of Presbyterian who collected 46 points. In sixth with 34 points and one first-place vote was Radford, followed by UNC Asheville in seventh with 31 points. Gardner-Webb (29 points) and Longwood (10 points) round out the poll in the eighth and ninth spot, respectively.
Liberty opens the 2016 schedule at the Sports Racket on Jan. 22 with a doubleheader against James Madison at 11 a.m. before turning around to take on Morehead State at 6 p.m.
2016 Big South Conference Preseason Men's Tennis Poll Team (first-place votes) Total Points 1. Coastal Carolina (4) 70 2. Winthrop (2) 65 3. Campbell (1) 64 4. Liberty (1) 56 5. Presbyterian 46 6. Radford (1) 34 7. UNC Asheville 31 8. Gardner-Webb 29 9. Longwood 10
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