For the second consecutive season, the Flames are well represented in the Big South men's tennis awards list, heading by junior Sam Matheson claiming Big South Men's Tennis Player of the Year honors.
The New Zealand native has been named Big South Men's Tennis Player of the Year in addition to Big South Singles First Team All-Conference and Big South Doubles First Team All-Conference.
Teammate Eddie Gutierrez was named to the Big South Singles Second Team All-Conference list. Egon Samaai rounded out the Liberty honorees as the South Africa native was named to both Big South Doubles First Team All-Conference and to the Big South All-Academic team.
Matheson finished the regular season with a 17-1 singles record and an 11-6 doubles mark. Matheson is currently ranked No. 94 in the latest ITA National Ranking, announced yesterday afternoon. The Liberty junior led the conference in singles wins with 17, including seven in Big South action.
Matheson becomes the program's first-ever conference player of the year thanks to his record-setting season. Matheson's inclusion on the first team all-conference squad marks the second consecutive season that the New Zealand native has been included on the team.
Matheson needs just one more singles win to set a new single-season program record for singles wins with 28, including victories in the fall. Matheson competed at the No. 1 singles flight all year long in both singles and for the majority of doubles competition. Matheson paired up with Samaai to finish 10-5 as a duo this spring, leading the Flames in the doubles category.
Gutierrez garnered a place on the singles second team all-conference list after turning in a 12-win season. Gutierrez is the first Liberty freshman to be named to a singles all-conference squad since Siim Tuus in 2010. The Mexico native finished 6-2 in Big South action, and has recorded the bulk of his wins from the No. 4 singles slot. Gutierrez is 7-2 in his last nine matches heading into the Big South Men's Tennis Championship.
Samaai rounds out the Liberty honorees by becoming the first Liberty men's tennis player to be named to the doubles all-conference squad on three separate occasions. Samaai earned a spot on the doubles all-conference squad in both 2013 and 2014.
Samaai's inclusion to the 2016 Big South Doubles First Team All-Conference listing is due in large part to a 10-5 record with teammate Matheson. The dynamic duo are 7-3 in their previous 10 doubles matches. The 6-6 senior also earned a spot on the Big South All-Academic team for the first time in his collegiate career.
Gardner-Webb's Maximilian Scholl was named the Big South Freshman of the Year. Scholl was the lone competitor to upset Matheson this season, doing so in straight sets on April 1. Coastal Carolina's Chris Powers was voted Big South Coach of the Year, while Presbyterian's Diego Manzanas was tabbed as the Big South Scholar Athlete of the Year.
The first round of the Big South Men's Tennis Championship is currently under way this afternoon with a first round matchup between No. 8 seed Radford and No. 9 seed Longwood at Liberty's Cook Tennis Center.
The No. 5 seeded Liberty Flames open their tournament play tomorrow with a 2 p.m. contest against No. 4 seeded Gardner-Webb. The Flames will look to avenge a 4-3 loss to the Runnin' Bulldogs on April 1.
2016 Big South Conference Men's Tennis All-Conference and Award Winners Singles First Team All-Conference Sam Matheson, Liberty Maximilian Scholl, Gardner-Webb Lukas Schaefer, Campbell Jabor Al Mutawa, Coastal Carolina Vuk Vulickovic, Coastal Carolina Henry Patten, UNC Asheville Tremayne Mitchell, Winthrop Pedro Leme, Coastal Carolina
Singles Second Team All-Conference Diego Quiroz, Winthrop Danny Bruce, Presbyterian Eddie Gutierrez, Liberty Sebastian Schneider, Coastal Carolina Nicolas Rakitin, Campbell Alfonso Castellano, Longwood Thomas Orestis-Panoulas, UNC Asheville Josh Swindler, UNC Asheville
Doubles First Team All-Conference Maximilian Scholl/Nikita Zverkov, Gardner-Webb Sam Matheson/Egon Samaai, Liberty Pedro Leme/Vuk Vulickovic, Coastal Carolina Alex Croker/Brett Landau, UNC Asheville
Doubles Second Team All-Conference Danny Bruce/Ben Kelley, Presbyterian Tremayne Mitchell/Steven Patrick, Winthrop Nicolas Rakitin/Gerard Sola, Campbell Henry Patten/Josh Swindler, UNC Asheville
All-Academic Team Lukas Schaefer, Campbell Vuk Velickovic, Coastal Carolina Jonathan Walker, Gardner-Webb Egon Samaai, Liberty Florian Uffer, Longwood Diego Manzanas, Presbyterian Michiel Meekers, Radford Thomas Orestis-Panoulas, UNC Asheville Steven Patrick, Winthrop
Player of the Year Sam Matheson, Liberty
Freshman of the Year Maximilian Scholl, Gardner-Webb
Coach of the Year Chris Powers, Coastal Carolina
Scholar Athlete of the Year Diego Manzanas, Presbyterian
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