Prior to the start of the 2014 men's tennis spring season, Nick Pierce of the Liberty Flames Sports Network interviewed Liberty head coach Chris Johnson.
Johnson discussed the team's expectations and approach heading into the new season. Johnson also looked at the squad's top returning players, Shea Thomas and Jorge Azuero, and other Flames who will look to have a big impact this spring. The interview covered Liberty's schedule and the challenge that awaits the team in 2014.
Liberty concluded the 2013 season with an 11-11 overall record and a 3-5 Big South mark. The Flames garnered the No. 7 seed for the Big South Men's Tennis Championship, before falling, 4-3, in the quarterfinals to No. 2 seed Campbell.
Thomas and Azuero headline Liberty's returnees from last season's squad. The duo posted an unprecedented fall season, recording 12 doubles victories. Thomas and Azuero captured the program's first ever ITA Atlantic Regional doubles title in Blacksburg, Va. with a win over then No. 17 Andreas Bjerrehus and Amerigo Contini from Virginia Tech. The tandem advanced to the National Indoor Championships, collecting a victory over the current No. 3 ranked team from Memphis. For their efforts, Thomas and Azuero earned a No. 26 national ranking in the latest ITA Men's Tennis rankings.
Last season, Thomas led the Flames with 16 singles wins, while Azuero ranked second on the squad with 14 singles victories. Thomas was named Big South All-Conference in both singles and doubles play last season. After posting a strong 2013 fall campaign in singles play, Thomas was ranked No. 19 in the ITA Atlantic Region in the first poll of the spring season. Thomas currently sits in third place on Liberty's all-time singles wins list, just 14 victories shy of Siim Tuus' program record 74 tallies.
Sophomore Egon Samaai returns after posting 10 singles wins and 14 doubles victories during his freshman campaign. Samaai was an all-conference doubles selection along with Thomas. Also returning for the Flames are junior Dillon Segur and senior Stan Vaughan, who each recorded eight singles wins last spring. In doubles play, Segur tied for first on the squad with 14 victories in 2013. Sophomores Guillem Secanell, Sergio Mourelo and Josiah Boda, along with newcomers Carson Greve and Alejandro Llamas, will look to provide depth to the Flames' lineup.
Liberty opens the 2014 schedule on Saturday with a neutral site match against Morehead State. The contest is slated to begin at 1 p.m. at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
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