The Liberty men's tennis squad will host a pair of non-conference opponents this weekend beginning with Furman on Friday at 2 p.m. and ending with Elon on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both contests will be played at the Sports Racket.
For those who are unable to attend the matches, you can follow live stats which will be provided by LibertyFlames.com by clicking on the appropriate links on the men's tennis schedule/results panel. Fans can also follow live updates on Twitter by following @LUGameday.
2016 Season The Flames are off to a 1-1 start to begin the season. Liberty dropped its season-opening match against Eastern Kentucky on Saturday at the Sports Racket. The Flames took a 3-1 advantage but were unable to fend off the Colonels who rallied to win, 4-3. Liberty defeated King University that same afternoon in the second match of the doubleheader. The Flames cruised past the Tornado, 5-2.
Mixing Things Up Liberty returns five players from last year's roster, including Sam Matheson and Egon Samaai. Matheson enters the season ranked as the No. 15 singles player in the Atlantic Region. The red and blue welcome four freshmen in Max Borcuti, Eddie Gutierrez, Ryker Heller and Alex Poynter.
Home Court Advantage The Flames finished the 2015 season with an untarnished 8-0 record in the Hill City. Liberty is a combined 9-3 in the last 12 contests played at the Sports Racket.
Chasing History Senior Egon Samaai enters the spring season following a successful fall campaign where he collected eight singles victories. The South Africa native ranks fourth on Liberty's all-time singles wins list (64) having just passed former teammates Jorge Azuero and Dillon Segur on Saturday. Samaai needs 11 wins this spring to pass former standout Siim Tuus for the most singles wins in program history. Samaai has also accounted for 65 career doubles wins, tying him with Segur for the fourth most doubles wins in program history. The senior needs 18 wins to eclipse Shea Thomas for the most doubles wins in program history.
The Century Mark Head Coach Chris Johnson became the all-time winningest coach in Liberty men's tennis history on Saturday, reaching the century mark for his 100th career victory at the helm of the program. Johnson is the first coach in program history on either the men or women's side to reach 100 career victories with the respective team. Johnson also accounted for 64 victories as the coach of the women's program from 2007-2012.
Scouting the Opponent Furman arrives in Lynchburg with a 1-2 start to the season. Most recently, the Paladins defeated Presbyterian on Jan. 29, 4-3 in Greenville, S.C. Furman finished the 2015 season with a 3-13 road record. Liberty and Furman will square off for the first time in program history on Friday.
Elon currently has a 2-2 overall record, with a chance to improve on that mark Saturday when they take on No. 1 Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. The Phoenix's wins include Barton and Bluefield College and the losses come at the hands of No. 13 Duke and No. 40 NC State. Elon holds a 7-2 all-time advantage over the Flames, defeating Liberty in the last showdown by a score of 7-0 on April 14, 2007 in Elon, N.C.
What's next? Following this weekend, Liberty returns to action for a doubleheader on Feb. 13 against North Carolina Central (noon) and Norfolk State (6 p.m.). Both contests will be played at the Sports Racket and will conclude Liberty's six-match home stand to open the season.
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