After slipping to No. 100 in last week's ITA National Ranking, Sam Matheson has climbed seven spots to No. 93 in the latest national poll. Matheson's national recognition is the highest ranking in both program and personal history. Matheson reached as high as No. 94 on April 19, prior to today's listings.
Matheson finished the regular season with a 18-1 overall record this spring and became the first Flame to win Big South Player of the Year honors. In addition, Matheson notched 28 singles victories overall this season, surpassing Shea Thomas' previous program record of 27 set in 2013.
Matheson is one of only 21 non-Power Five conference players represented in this week's ITA rankings. Matheson is also one of only 14 non-Power Five conference players inside the Top 100. The New Zealand native is the lone Big South representative.
Matheson's ranking comes as no surprise with the No. 1 singles player rattling off 18 victories in 19 decisions this spring. The Liberty junior was tabbed a member of the 2016 Big South Men's Tennis Singles First Team All-Conference squad as well as Big South Men's Tennis Doubles First Team All-Conference. Matheson's spring success is directly correlated to what the junior accomplished during the fall season.
Matheson exceled on a historic run in the ITA All-American tournament in early October, finishing the event with a 6-1 record before being knocked out in the final match before the main draw.
Matheson was the first Flame to advance to the event's qualifier, defeating multiple Power Five conference opponents including Arkansas' Mike Redlicki, who is currently ranked No. 23 in the ITA rankings. Matheson defeated Redlicki in three sets, 6-4, 0-6, 6-3. The Liberty junior also handled Hugo Dojas of Texas Tech in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2. Dojas is currently ranked No. 110 but has reached as high as No. 94 this season.
Matheson finished the season as the highest-ranked Big South competitor and qualified for the NCAA Men's Tennis Championship on May 25 in Tulsa, Okla. Matheson was one of 14 automatic qualifiers and will be joined by 50 at-large selections and eight alternates for the championship.
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