The Liberty men's tennis squad (8-8, 2-2 Big South) will take on a pair of conference opponents this week, in addition to a non-conference tilt on Sunday. Liberty will host Radford (0-10, 0-3 Big South) tomorrow at 3 p.m. The contest will serve as Senior Day and will be played at the Cook Tennis Center, weather permitting. The Flames will then host Gardner-Webb (7-9, 1-3 Big South) on Friday at noon at the Cook Tennis Center. Should the contest be moved to the Sports Racket, the match will begin at 1 p.m. Liberty will close the week with a non-conference tilt against UMBC (4-12) in Baltimore, Md., on Sunday at 11 a.m.
2016 Season The Flames enter the week having most recently dropped a 4-3 decision to Presbyterian on Thursday in Clinton, S.C. Prior to the loss, Liberty had won three consecutive matches, including a key conference victory over Winthrop on March 22, by the final score of 5-2.
Sam Matheson continues to lead the Flames' efforts this season. The New Zealand native has thrice been named the Big South Men's Tennis Player of the Week (Feb. 10, Feb. 17 & March 9) and is currently ranked No. 106 in the ITA National Ranking. Matheson is 9-5 in doubles action but stands alone in singles play with a perfect 14-0 overall mark. Co-captain Egon Samaai has also accounted for nine doubles wins, tying Matheson for the most doubles victories this season for the Flames. Freshman Eddie Gutierrez ranks second on the squad in singles victories with nine and has twice been named Big South Freshman of the Week (Feb. 24 & March 23).
Chasing History Senior Egon Samaai currently ranks fourth on Liberty's all-time singles wins list (70). Samaai needs five more wins this spring to pass former standout Siim Tuus for the most singles wins in program history. Samaai collected his 73rd doubles victory on against ECU on March 20, which ranks third most in program history for doubles wins. Samaai needs seven wins to pass former standout Giancarlo Lemmi for the second most doubles wins in program history.
Scouting the Opponent Radford enters tomorrow's contest with a winless 0-10 overall mark. The Highlanders have the chance to notch their first victory when they host Bluefield this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. As a team, Radford is 13-41 in singles action and 6-19 in doubles play this spring. Alexandros Caldwell leads the team in singles play with a 5-5 overall mark, as well as a 3-5 record in doubles play.
Gardner-Webb arrives to the Hill City with a 7-9 overall mark, including a 1-3 record in conference play. The Runnin' Bulldogs have a chance to improve on their conference record today with a 2 p.m. matchup against Longwood today in Farmville, Va. Gardner-Webb has won four of its last five matches and is led in singles play by Maximilian Scholl with a 10-6 overall mark. Scholl also leads the team in doubles play with a 10-6 record.
UMBC currently holds a 4-12 record, with a chance to improve on that today against George Mason at 2 p.m., as well as Friday against Morgan State at 1 p.m. The Terriers have dropped four straight matches after winning three consecutive contests.
What's next? Following this week's matches, the Flames close out the 2016 regular season schedule on April 6 and April 7 with back-to-back road conference matches. Liberty will square off against Coastal Carolina on April 6 at 2 p.m. in Conway, S.C. The next day, the Flames will travel to Buies Creek, N.C., to square off against Campbell at 2 p.m.
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