The Liberty Flames tennis squad earned a strong 5-2 victory over Winthrop on Tuesday at the Cook Tennis Center.
With the win, the Flames improved to 8-7 and 2-1 in Big South action. Liberty also notches its third victory in program history over the Eagles. Winthrop falls to 8-9, including 2-2 in conference action following the loss.
The Flames dropped the first doubles match after Tremayne Mitchell and Steven Patrick bested Sam Matheson and Egon Samaai, 6-4, from the No. 1 doubles position.
Liberty rebounded to claim victories in both the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles slots to take a 1-0 edge over the Eagles. Diego Castano and David Bush tied the advantage for the doubles point at one apiece from the No. 3 doubles slot, defeating Diego Quiroz and Josh Ryan 7-5.
Eddie Gutierrez and Alex Poynter clinched the doubles point for Liberty, defeating Michael Chen and Aditya Gokhale in the tiebreak. Poynter and Gutierrez fought toe-to-toe with Chen and Gokhale to force the 6-6 tie. The freshman doubles tandem then cruised to a 7-2 victory in the tiebreak, claiming the match 7-6(2).
Singles play began much like doubles with the Flames dropping the first match. Mitchell bested Poynter in straight sets from the No. 2 singles position 6-0, 6-0 to even the overall score at one apiece.
Liberty bounced back with a singles win from the No. 4 position when fellow freshman Gutierrez bested Steven Patrick in straight sets 6-3, 6-3. Gutierrez's victory placed the Flames back on top 2-1.
Liberty received another strong win from Bush in the No. 6 singles position to extend the lead to 3-1. The Kentucky sophomore bested Gokhale in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4 to double the Flames lead.
The match was clinched when Samaai delivered a three-set victory over Chen from the No. 3 singles slot. Samaai's victory marked the second consecutive match that the South Africa native clinched the victory for Liberty. The senior cruised through the first set for the 6-2 victory, before falling in the second frame 6-3. Samaai bounced back in the third set to ease past Chen 6-1, extending Liberty's lead to 4-1.
With the match already sealed, the Flames split the final two matches with a three-set victory in the No. 1 slot and a three-set loss at the No. 5 singles position. The final win came from Matheson who earlier today received an ITA national ranking of No. 106, the first Liberty singles player to be ranked in program history. Matheson dropped a tough 6-4 decision in the first set and then rallied to win the second set 7-6(3). The New Zealand native then bested Quiroz in the third frame pro set, 10-4. Matheson's victory improved his overall record this spring to a perfect 13-0.
Liberty returns to action on Thursday when the Flames take on Presbyterian at 1 p.m. in Clinton, S.C.
Liberty 5, Winthrop 2 Doubles