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Men's Tennis Conclude Six-Match Home Stretch, Saturday

February 11, 2016  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Men's Tennis Conclude Six-Match Home Stretch, Saturday

The Liberty men's tennis squad will host a pair of non-conference opponents on Saturday beginning with North Carolina Central at noon, followed by Norfolk State at 6 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, 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 1-3 start to begin the season. After splitting a season-opening doubleheader, Liberty has dropped back-to-back decisions against Furman (5-2) and Elon (4-2).

The Flames are led by Sam Matheson who has posted an untarnished 3-0 singles record to compliment a 2-2 doubles record. Matheson was named the Big South Men's Tennis Player of the Week, yesterday, after finished the week with a 3-1 record against the Paladins and the Phoenix.

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 welcomed four freshmen in Max Borcuti, Eddie Gutierrez, Ryker Heller and Alex Poynter.

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 (65) having just passed former teammates Jorge Azuero and Dillon Segur on Saturday. Samaai needs 10 more wins this spring to pass former standout Siim Tuus for the most singles wins in program history. Samaai has also accounted for 66 career doubles wins, passing Segur for the fourth most doubles wins in program history. The senior needs 17 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 Jan. 30, 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 their respective team. Johnson also accounted for 64 victories as the coach of the women's program from 2007-2012.

Scouting the Opponent
Saturday's contest will serve as the season opener for the Eagles after their first match against Davidson was cancelled on Jan. 30, due to winter storm Jonas. The Flames hold a 3-0 advantage over North Carolina Central. Liberty bested the Eagles in the most recent contest on March 20, 2014 in Durham, N.C., by a score of 5-2. The Eagles have only five active players heading into this weekend.

Norfolk State is winless on the season, holding an 0-2 record after back-to-back losses against then No. 60 Old Dominion (6-1) and UNC Wilmington (6-0). The Spartans trail Liberty in the all-time series, 4-1. The Flames defeated Norfolk State in the most recent outing on Feb. 16, 2013 in Norfolk, Va., by a score of 6-1.

What's next?
Following this weekend, Liberty takes to the road for four consecutive matches. The Flames will close out the month of February in a three-day tournament in Tallahassee, Fla. Liberty will square off against Florida A&M (Feb. 19), Florida State (Feb. 20) and The Citadel (Feb. 21).