The Liberty Flames collected their second victory in Florida over the weekend, upending the Florida A&M Rattlers, 5-1, on Saturday morning at Florida State's Speicher Tennis Center.
The Flames won on Saturday for the first time this season in which they did not claim the doubles point. Rattlers prevailed on courts one and three in doubles, but Liberty responded by winning every singles bout (minus the No. 5 bout which went unfinished). The Flames showed resolve in many of those matches, as they won all five sets which featured a tiebreaker.
"We brought great energy to doubles, especially at No. 3, and came up a bit short. We are building a culture of fight and responding to adversity," stated Liberty Men's Tennis Head Coach Derek Schwandt. "I'm really happy with our guys' fight today."
Florida A&M's Nourelidin Adam and Federico Nani got things started by winning, 6-3, on court one over Diego Castano and Alex Poynter of Liberty. The Flames' Vince Salas and Eddie Gutierrez, the top duo in the Big South, improved to 8-0 in doubles with their 6-3 victory on court two against Lebelo Mosehle and Samer Hema Hasona. Salas and Gutierrez have won 10 straight doubles matches, dating back to the fall.
It came down to a tiebreaker in the No. 3 doubles bout between Flames sophomore Chase Burton and Samuel Brown and Illya Skoromnyy and Jermaine Le Grand of the Rattlers. The Florida A&M tandem edged Burton and Brown, 7-6 (5), placing Liberty behind, 1-0, in the match.
Liberty's Burton and Castano both made quick work of their opponents in the singles session. Burton commanded his match against Hasona, picking up a 6-0, 6-1 win. Castano's straight-sets victory (6-1, 6-2 in No. 6 slot) over his opponent Mosehle brought the Flames' advantage to 2-1.
The other three singles wins required a combined five tiebreakers, starting with one from Salas on court four. In command of his match against Le Grand after a 6-2 first-set victory, Salas grinded out a 7-6 (7-3) win in the second for a 6-2, 7-6 (3) decision. Liberty led, 3-1, following that victory.
In the No. 2 bout, Gutierrez won a three-setter (6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (5)) against the Rattles' Nani to officially clinch the match for the Flames and make it 4-1. The Mexico City, Mexico, native now has 16 singles wins during his junior campaign.
At No. 1 singles, senior Sam Matheson outlasted Adam in a three-set battle in which he won both of his sets in tiebreaker fashion. The New Zealand native's 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (2) victory was his sixth in solo competition during the spring and allowed Liberty to claim the match by the score of 5-1.
Liberty will face No. 16 Florida State (13-1) later today. First serve is pegged for 4 p.m. at the Speicher Tennis Center.
Liberty 5, FLORIDA A&M 1 Singles competition 1. MATHESON, Sam (LIBERTYM) def. ADAM,Nourelidin (FAMUM) 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 7-6 (7-2) 2. GUTIERREZ, Eddie (LIBERTYM) def. NANI,Federico (FAMUM) 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) 3. BURTON, Chase (LIBERTYM) def. HASONA,Samer Hema (FAMUM) 6-0, 6-1 4. SALAS, Vince (LIBERTYM) def. Le GRAND,Jermaine (FAMUM) 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) 5. POYNTER, Alex (LIBERTYM) vs. SKOROMNYY,Illya (FAMUM) 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 3-1, unfinished 6. CASTANO, Diego (LIBERTYM) def. MOSEHLE,Lebelo (FAMUM) 6-1, 6-2
Doubles competition 1. ADAM,Nourelidin/NANI,Federico (FAMUM) def. CASTANO, Diego/POYNTER, Alex (LIBERTYM) 6-3 2. SALAS, Vince/GUTIERREZ, Eddie (LIBERTYM) def. MOSEHLE,Lebelo/HASONA,Samer Hema (FAMUM) 6-3 3. SKOROMNYY,Illya/Le GRAND,Jermaine (FAMUM) def. BURTON, Chase/BROWN, Samuel (LIBERTYM) 7-6 (7-5)
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (3,6,4,2,1) T-3:30