The Liberty men's tennis squad looks to begin the conference season 2-0 for the second consecutive season on Saturday. The Flames will take on Big South foe UNC Asheville at noon at the Cook Tennis Center in Lynchburg, Va.
2016 Season The Flames are an even 5-5 heading into the weekend matchup. Liberty is coming off a 7-0 sweep of Longwood yesterday, in which the Flames did not surrender a single set. Liberty jumped out to a 1-0 advantage following doubles action and did not look back. The Flames improved to 1-0 to begin conference play for the third time in the past four seasons.
Sam Matheson continues to lead the Flames' efforts this season. The New Zealand native has twice been named the Big South Men's Tennis Player of the Week (Feb. 10 & Feb. 17). Matheson is 5-3 in doubles action but stands alone in singles play with a perfect 8-0 overall mark. Co-captain Egon Samaai has also accounted for five doubles wins, tying Matheson for the most doubles victories this season for the Flames. The South Africa native is 5-3 in singles action, competing primarily in the No. 2 singles slot.
Chasing History Senior Egon Samaai currently ranks fourth on Liberty's all-time singles wins list (68), having recently passed former teammates Jorge Azuero and Dillon Segur. Samaai needs seven more wins this spring to pass former standout Siim Tuus for the most singles wins in program history. Samaai has also accounted for 69 career doubles wins, tying Tuus for the third most in program history. Samaai needs one more doubles win to pass Tuus for sole possession of third and 11 wins to pass former standout Giancarlo Lemmi for the second 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. The Hickory, N.C., native currently has 104 career victories with the Flames. Johnson also accounted for 64 victories as the coach of the women's program from 2007-2012.
Scouting the Opponent UNC Asheville enters the weekend with a 4-3 overall record, with a chance to improve on that tomorrow in the Bulldogs' Big South opener against Radford at 2 p.m., in Radford, Va. Asheville has dropped two of its last three matches, following a three-match winning streak. Most recently, the Bulldogs were blanked by South Carolina by a final of 7-0 on Saturday.
Asheville is led by Thomas Panoulas in singles action with a 3-2 overall mark. The Bulldogs have three other players with two wins apiece in singles play. Panoulas, Alex Croker and Brett Landau pace Asheville in doubles action with four wins each.
What's next? Following Saturday's match, the Flames return to action on Wednesday when Liberty travels to California for a pair of non-conference bouts. The Flames will face UC Irvine on Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET followed by UC Riverside on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET.
Like Us on Facebook
Follow Us on Twitter
Follow Us on Instagram