The Liberty women's tennis squad returns to action on Saturday when the Lady Flames (11-8, 7-0 Big South) take on Charleston Southern (9-4, 4-2 Big South) at 11 a.m., in Charleston, S.C. With a win on Saturday, Liberty would clinch at least a share of the Big South regular-season championship, as well as clinch the No. 1 seed for the upcoming Big South Women's Tennis Championship. The Lady Flames will play their fourth consecutive match in the Palmetto State with a 1:30 p.m. contest against College of Charleston (14-10) on Sunday.
2016 Season The Lady Flames enter the week having won six consecutive contests, including five straight conference victories. Most recently, Liberty bested Presbyterian on Friday by the final score of 7-0 in Clinton, S.C. Maria Khval and Anna Dollar clinched the doubles point for Liberty while Evangeline Crist clinched the match in singles play. Dollar was named Big South Women's Tennis Freshman of the Week yesterday, marking the third time this season that the Pennsylvania native has garnered the award. Dollar also received the award on Jan. 20 and Feb. 24.
Liberty is led in singles play by Crist (12-6), Khval (11-7) and Belen Rivera (10-8). The Lady Flames continue their dominance this spring in doubles play, as Liberty is 41-14 (.745) heading into Saturday's match. Liberty has claimed 12 of the last 13 possible doubles points. Crist and Valerie Thong lead the way in doubles action with a 14-4 record, including 6-1 in conference play. The Liberty duo of Dollar and Khval have earned a 13-5 doubles record in the spring, while Rebekah Anderson and Aleksandra Panchenko are 11-2 as a doubles tandem.
Scouting the Competition Charleston Southern enters Saturday's contest having dropped back-to-back conference matches to Winthrop and Coastal Carolina. After beginning the season 7-0, the Buccaneers have slipped in four of their last six matches. Charleston Southern is led in singles play by Sophie Cloessner who has posted a 10-2 overall record. Meanwhile, Valeria Koussenkova and Brianna Thompson have each recorded a 10-3 record this spring.
College of Charleston enters the weekend on a similar note as the Buccaneers, dropping five of its previous seven matches. Most recently, the Cougars defeated East Carolina on Friday by the score of 4-2. Sunday's contest between College of Charleston and Liberty will serve as Senior Day for the Cougars. Seniors Katherine Schofield and Brooke McAmis rank second on the team in singles wins with 11 each. Schofield has also recorded a team-best 19 doubles wins.
Chasing History Khval and Rivera continue to climb up the program's all-time singles wins ladder. With Rivera's win on Friday, the senior tied former teammate Nicola Wellman for the third-most singles wins in program history with 60. Khval notched two more victories last week to move into fifth place for all-time singles wins in program history with 58.
Thong became Liberty's all-time doubles leader in Liberty's 6-1 victory over Campbell on March 3, after the senior notched her 79th career doubles victory, passing Jordan Jenkins. Thong has accounted for 25 doubles victories this season, tied with Crist, and 87 overall. Thong and Crist have registered 23 victories as a duo this season, setting the new Liberty single-season record for team wins. The duo held the previous record of 22 team wins set in 2015.
Crist has also accounted for 25 doubles victories this season and 52 overall during her first two seasons. The Georgia sophomore ranks seventh in program history for doubles wins, having recently passed Martyna Hanusz. Crist also currently holds the program record of 27 doubles wins in a single season, set in 2015. The Liberty sophomore needs just three more doubles victories to pass her own record for a single season.
What's Next? Following this weekend's contests, the Lady Flames will conclude their regular season on Tuesday with a conference tilt against Longwood. The match is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. in Farmville, Va.
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