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Flames Set for Home Opener Against Spiders, Friday

January 25, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty will host Richmond on Friday at Crosswhite Athletic Club (118 Davis Cup Road, Lynchburg).

Liberty will host Richmond on Friday at Crosswhite Athletic Club (118 Davis Cup Road, Lynchburg).

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On Friday, Liberty Flames men's tennis will open the home portion of its 2018 schedule by hosting the Richmond Spiders at Crosswhite Athletic Club.

The match between the Flames (1-1) and Spiders (0-1) is set to start at 4 p.m.

"It's an honor and great opportunity to host our home opener versus Richmond," stated Flames head coach Derek Schwandt. "We would love for the Liberty and Lynchburg community to come out and support us. It will be great viewing for fans with on-court seating."

Series History
Richmond holds the overall series edge on Liberty, 10-3. The two schools last met on March 18, 2015, a match won, 4-3, by the Spiders.

How to Follow the Flames
Live scoring, provided by Liberty Athletics Communications, will be accessible for the match between the Flames and Spiders. Find the link for live results on the Liberty men's tennis schedule page on LibertyFlames.com.

In addition, follow @LUMensTennis on Twitter for live updates throughout the day from Crosswhite Athletic Club. The Liberty Men's Tennis Instagram account (libertyumenstennis) will also provide live look-ins from the day's action.

Early Season Matches
Liberty split its first two matches of the season, last Friday at Virginia Tech's Burrows Burleson Tennis Center. In their first contest, the Flames took the doubles point from the host Hokies before falling, 6-1.

On Friday evening against North Carolina A&T, Liberty swept the three doubles matches and won five of six singles bouts on the way to a 6-1 victory over the Aggies. Senior Sam Matheson, junior Eddie Gutierrez, sophomore Chase Burton, sophomore Vince Salas and Max Borcuti all won their singles matches. Gutierrez and Salas share the team lead with 11 singles victories apiece during the 2017-18 campaign.

Roster Breakdown
The Flames' eight-man roster features a blend of experience and youth. Senior Sam Matheson, the 2016 Big South Player of the Year, and fellow senior Diego Castano provide valuable experience to the squad. Matheson holds the program record for most singles wins in a season (28), while Castano has climbed to seventh in Liberty men's tennis history with 57 career victories.

Juniors Eddie Gutierrez, Alex Poynter and Max Borcuti will be competing in their third spring campaign with the Flames, while sophomores Chase Burton, Vince Salas and Samuel Brown are looking to improve upon successful campaigns from last year. Burton, a native of Naples, Florida, garnered Big South First Team All-Conference Singles distinction and VaSID All-State Men's Tennis singles second team recognition. Burton has continued the strong play into his sophomore campaign, as he reached the quarterfinals of the singles main draw by winning four matches at the ITA Atlantic Regional.

New Coaching Staff
Liberty men's tennis is under new leadership for the 2017-18 season. Derek Schwandt was named the sixth head coach in program history on May 30, 2017. Schwandt earned his first career victory as a collegiate head coach in Liberty 6-1 triumph over North Carolina A&T, last Friday. Schwandt will be facing his alma mater, Richmond, tomorrow. He graduated from Richmond in 2005, and during his playing career, Schwandt was a two-time All-Atlantic 10 selection who helped the team to three NCAA Men's Team Championship appearances.

Joining Schwandt on his staff are Beck Pennington and Egon Samaai. Pennington, a 2017 graduate of Kentucky, finished up a five-year playing career with the Wildcats last spring. Samaai, a 2016 graduate of Liberty, is in his second season as a volunteer assistant after a four-year playing career for the Flames.

During the coaching staff's first fall together, Liberty players posted a combined 55-49 (.529) mark in singles competition and 21-20 (.512) mark in doubles.

Scouting Richmond
The Spiders' eight-man roster features a pair of seniors, two juniors, three sophomores and a freshman. Last Saturday, Richmond nearly knocked off three-time defending national champion Virginia. The Spiders nearly pulled off the upset but lost, 4-3, to the No. 12 Cavaliers in Charlottesville, Va.

In that match, visiting Richmond claimed the doubles point with victories from the duos of Caleb Troy and James Aronson and Klein Evans and Matt Fernandez. Troy went on to win in singles as well, along with George Lovitt.

Houston Barrick is the head coach of the Spiders. Barrick played his college tennis at Virginia and helped the Cavaliers to three National Indoor team titles in his four years in Charlottesville.