The Liberty men's tennis squad will take on a pair of Golden State opponents in UC Irvine and UC Riverside, this week in Irvine, Calif. The Flames square off against the Anteaters at 5 p.m., on Wednesday. Liberty will then conclude its California trip against the Highlanders on Thursday at 1 p.m.
2016 Season The Flames enter the week having most recently dropped a 4-3 decision to conference foe UNC Asheville on Saturday at the Cook Tennis Center in Lynchburg, Va. The loss slipped Liberty's record to 5-6 and 1-1 in Big South play. The contest went back-and-forth with Liberty claiming the doubles point and two of the first four singles matches. The Bulldogs then notched victories in the final two singles slots to claim the 4-3 advantage.
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 6-3 in doubles action but stands alone in singles play with a perfect 9-0 overall mark. Co-captain Egon Samaai has also accounted for six doubles wins, tying Matheson for the most doubles victories this season for the Flames. Samaai, Eddie Gutierrez and Alex Poynter have each accounted for five singles wins this spring.
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 collected his 70th doubles victory on Saturday, passing Tuus for the third most in program history. Samaai needs 10 wins to pass former standout Giancarlo Lemmi for the second most doubles wins in program history.
Scouting the Opponent UC Irvine enters the week with a 7-5 overall record, having most recently defeated Furman on Sunday by a score of 4-3 in San Diego, Calif. The Anteaters will play Weber State tomorrow and Gonzaga on Wednesday prior to hosting the Flames at the Anteater Tennis Stadium. Sebastian Heim leads UC Irvine with an 8-2 singles record as well as 6-2 doubles mark. As of Feb. 23, Heim was ranked inside the Top 125 as the No. 55 player in the country.
UC Riverside enters the week with a 7-8 overall record and a chance to improve on that mark on Wednesday with a 2 p.m. ET match against Westmont. The Highlanders have notched three straight victories, and enter the week as winners in five of their last six matches.
What's next? Following this week's matches, Liberty will return to action on March 19 when the Flames host Winthrop at 2 p.m., at the Cook Tennis Center in Lynchburg, Va.
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