Senior Giancarlo Lemmi and the Flames start their spring play on Jan. 26.
The Liberty men's tennis team has been predicted to finish third in the Big South this season, according to the conference's annual preseason poll which is voted on by the men's head tennis coaches. The league announced the poll this afternoon, which projects Radford and Winthrop as the top two finishers for the 2012 season.
Liberty earned two first-place votes on the way to a total of 43 points from the coaches panel. The Flames' two first place votes is the most the team has garnered in their history, leading to the program's highest predicted finish in the poll.
Liberty's men are coming off a 10-12 mark last season and a 1-6 record in Big South play. However, the Flames ended 2011 on a high note. As the No. 6 seed, Liberty's men upset No. 3 seeded Coastal Carolina in the Big South Men's Tennis Championships to advance to the program's second-ever semifinal.
The core of the Flames' team returns for 2012, as the squad graduated only one contributing senior in Benjamin Wirth. Giancarlo Lemmi and Siim Tuus each posted 12 singles victories last year and will look to lead this year's squad, along with fellow returners Shea Thomas, Tristan Stayt, Stanislav Vaughan and Mandeep Yadav.
Head Coach Chris Johnson has also added three freshmen to the roster, as Jorge Azuero, Wayne Harrell and Dillon Segur will look forward to their first collegiate dual matches this spring. The class was ranked No. 19 by the TennisRecruiting.net's Mid-Major Top-25 listing of recruiting classes.
Defending Big South champion Radford led the poll with five first-place votes, and finished with 61 points. Winthrop edged the Flames by six points (49), despite only garnering one first-place nod from the coaches. Campbell, who makes its return to the Big South, was predicted to finish fourth, earning 42 points in the poll.
Coastal Carolina (38), UNC Asheville (24), Gardner-Webb (21) and Presbyterian College (10) round out the preseason poll.
The Flames kick off the 2012 slate on Jan. 26, when they face Bluefield State at 1 p.m. The match will be played at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.
Team (first place votes) Total Points 1. Radford (5) 61 2. Winthrop (1) 49 3. Liberty (2) 43 4. Campbell 42 5. Coastal Carolina 38 6. UNC Asheville 24 7. Gardner-Webb 21 8. Presbyterian College 10
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