Liberty Men’s Tennis Dominates Their First Competition of 2022

Liberty tennis hosted its first competition of 2022, and while the team’s records in singles and doubles counted on an individual level, the overall team record was not affected.  

The tournament was a tune-up in preparation for the spring dual match season, which begins Jan. 20 when the Flames travel to Charlottesville to face No. 7 Virginia.  

Liberty faced three teams over the course of a condensed two-day competition (some matches were moved up due to inclement weather): James Madison University, College of Charleston and Youngstown State University.  

Head Coach Derek Schwandt was thrilled to get his team back in competition before the start of the spring season. 

“It was awesome to get the guys back together. We’re really excited about the group that we have, and they competed great today,” Schwandt said.  

The Flames kicked off the action Friday morning against Youngstown State, going 3-1 in doubles matches.

Following the doubles matches against Youngstown State, the Flames battled the Penguins in singles sets, winning 7 of 8. The Flames’ momentum continued into Friday evening’s singles sets, going a flawless 8-0 against College of Charleston and moving their Friday record to 15-1 in singles and 18-2 overall.  

 Saturday, Liberty took on JMU and College of Charleston in doubles sets, sweeping both competitions and going a perfect 8-0.  

The domination continued against James Madison in the afternoon singles set with the Flames sweeping once again, capping off a perfect 16-0 record for the day.  

Overall, the Flames finished the weekend at a dazzling 34-2 overall record, including 23-1 in singles matches and 11-1 in doubles matches.  

Junior Zion Heaven, an Appalachian State transfer, was glad to experience the victory with his teammates. 

“You know it’s a blast, being out here with the guys. We always say it’s more like a brotherhood and a family than anything else, so just being out here competing with them is the highlight of our year, especially the spring season,” Heaven said.  

The Flames are coming off a 2021 season in which they won the ASUN Conference Championship and finished No. 39 in the country. Liberty also reached the NCAA team championships last season. 

Heaven outlined that the Flames have similar ambitions this season. 

 “Today is just something a lot of us are building on — what we’ve been working on in practice,” Heaven said following Friday’s matches. “The goal is really building off of that for our UVA match that’s really the official start of our season and just to continue. We like to say ‘climbing the mountain’ instead of riding a rollercoaster.” 

The Flames will look to get a win on the road against Virginia Jan. 20 in their first official team match of 2022. 

McCusker is a sports reporter. Follow him on Twitter

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