With both the Liberty men's and women's tennis seasons kicking off next week, head coach Chris Johnson made an appearance on the Flames Sports Desk to share insight on the 2012 season.
Sitting down with the Flames Sports Network's Erin McKeown, Johnson talks about a variety of topics to catch everyone up with the happenings of the Liberty tennis programs.
Both the men's and women's teams now have a stable place to call home, after the Cook Tennis Center was completed last fall. Each team enjoys its own locker room, while coaches' offices and a team room are also featured in the building which stands adjacent to the Hershey Tennis Courts. The addition of the facility opens the possibility of hosting postseason competition.
Now in his sixth year as both the men's and women's head coach, Johnson is looking to continue the growth and success of both programs.
The men, who have posted three consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins, will attempt to build off momentum built at the end of last season. The Flames upended No. 3 seeded Coastal Carolina in the Big South Men's Tennis Championship last season, advancing to the semifinal round for the second time in program history.
Seven Flames return from last season's squad, including Giancarlo Lemmi and Siim Tuus, who both posted 12 singles victories in 2011.
The Flames open dual match competition next Thursday, as they face Bluefield State at 1 p.m. The match will take place at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.
Meanwhile, the women aim to back up one of the best seasons in program history. Coming off a 15-7 overall showing and a 6-1 mark in Big South matches, the Lady Flames earned a share of their first regular-season Big South title and finished the season ranked No. 10 in the ITA Atlantic Region in 2011 – both accomplishments being firsts for the program.
Despite graduating three seniors, Liberty's women's team returns five student-athletes who contributed 61 of the team's 80 singles victories in 2011. Carol Lobel, who is this year's lone senior, led the team with 15 singles victories last season, while Cameron Richard and Alexandra Sheeran each posted 13.
The Lady Flames begin their 2012 campaign next Friday, with their first of back-to-back matches. After facing Georgetown at 3 p.m., Friday, they take on Appalachian State at 5 p.m., Saturday. Both matches also take place at the Greenbrier Resort.
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