Freshman Wayne Harrell has won his last five singles match, and is tied for the team lead with six singles victories.
Freshman Wayne Harrell pulled out a three-set win in the No. 5 singles match, Tuesday, helping the Flames come from behind to knock off No. 64 Oklahoma State, 4-3, at the University of Tulsa's Case Tennis Center. The victory is the program's first over a ranked opponent. The match was originally scheduled as the Cowboys' home opener, but was relocated due to the threat of inclement weather.
Liberty improves to 5-3 after the program's first meeting and victory against a Big 12 program. The win gives the Flames back-to-back wins for the first time this season, as it halts their alternating win-loss pattern. The Flames also remain unbeaten in neutral-site matchups this season, moving to 4-0. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State levels off at 3-3 and suffers its third consecutive setback.
"I'm so proud of our guys," remarked Liberty Head Coach Chris Johnson. "They stepped up and played huge tennis on the road against a big team. This is a great win that will certainly be a springboard to the goals we have set for this year."
The Flames started strong in doubles play, taking convincing victories in the top two matches to secure the 1-0 lead. Tristan Stayt and Shea Thomas paired up for their second consecutive doubles victory, taking down the Cowboys' Brandon Champagne and Trevor Horstmann in the No. 2 match, 8-2. The senior-junior duo of Giancarlo Lemmi and Siim Tuus then locked up the doubles point, defeating Chris Haworth and Eric West, 8-3.
Oklahoma State appeared to have stolen momentum early in singles play, led by wins from previously ranked singles competitors, Rifat Kiktyakov (112) and Haworth (115) in the No. 2 and No. 3 positions, respectively. The wins allowed the Cowboys to claim their first lead of the afternoon, 2-1.
In the lead singles match, West took revenge on his doubles defeat as he handed Tuus just his second loss of 2012, to extend the Cowboys' lead, 3-1.
Liberty's underclassmen then came through in the clutch for the Flames, picking up wins in the final three slots of Johnson's lineup.
Freshman Dillon Segur snapped a three match slide, taking a straight-set win over Horstmann, 7-6, 6-0, in the No. 4 match, while sophomore Matt Slamecka helped square the match, 3-3, and improved to 2-0 on the year by defeating Champagne, 6-3, 6-2.
Harrell was forced to rally after dropping the opening set of his No. 5 contest, 6-4, to Adolfo Aires. The East Windsor, Conn., native struck back with a 6-4 set of his own, and took the deciding set for his match and the overall contest, also 6-4, to give Liberty the 4-3 win. Harrell's singles victory is his fifth straight and sixth overall, tying him for the team lead with Tuus.
The Flames will now have approximately a week to recover from their recent travel schedule, before they hit the road again to face UMBC on March 7. Match time is to be determined.
Liberty 4, Oklahoma State, 3 DOUBLES 1. Lemmi/Tuus (LU) def. Haworth/West (OSU), 8-3 2. Stayt/Thomas (LU) def. Champagne/Horstmann (OSU), 8-2 3. Aires/Biktyakov (OSU) def. Harrell/Slamecka (LU), 8-6
SINGLES 1. West (OSU) def. Tuus (LU), 6-3, 6-4 2. No. 112 Biktyakov (OSU) def. Thomas (LU), 6-1, 6-3 3. No. 115 Haworth (OSU) def. Lemmi (LU), 7-6, 6-2 4. Segur (LU) def. Horstmann (OSU), 7-6, 6-0 5. Harrell (LU) def. Aires (OSU), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 6. Slamecka (LU) def. Champagne (OSU), 6-3, 6-2