The Liberty Flames men's tennis team fell into a 3-0 hole to Longwood and could not quite complete the comeback, losing 4-3 Thursday afternoon in its 2017 Big South opener at the Cook Tennis Center.
The Flames (4-5, 0-1 Big South) dropped the doubles point to the Lancers (5-1, 1-0 Big South) and lost the first two singles matches. Liberty won two straight matches to close the gap, but Longwood's Amadeo Blasco closed out the win for the visitors at No. 1 singles.
The Lancers opened the afternoon by taking two of three matches for the doubles point. Their No. 2 pairing of Arthur Bardelloto and Julian Farthing bested Liberty's tandem of Eddie Gutierrez and Vince Salas, 6-2.
The Flames' No. 3 unit of Chase Burton and Max Borcuti scored a 6-1 victory over Longwood's Noah Petralia and Lachlan Manser. The Lancers' No. 1 duo of Blasco and Florian Uffer put Longwood ahead, 1-0, with a 6-3 victory over Alex Poynter and Diego Castano.
The Lancers carried over the momentum into singles play, starting with the No. 4 singles match. Farthing won in straight sets (6-3, 6-0) over Poynter, who was making his spring debut. In the No. 3 position, Bardelloto took care of Salas, winning in straight sets (6-3, 6-3) as well to give Longwood a 3-0 edge.
The Flames' Burton put the home side on the board with a two-set triumph, 6-2, 6-4, against Uffer in No. 2 singles. Borcuti brought the deficit to 3-2 with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Manser out of the No. 6 position.
The remaining matches on the court were the No. 1 match between Gutierrez and Blasco and No. 5 match between Castano and Petralia. Gutierrez and Castano, the two captains for Liberty, each dropped 7-5 decisions in their first set, but both players bounced back with second set victories to keep the match alive.
Both Gutierrez and Castano needed to win their matches to finish the comeback for the Flames, but Blasco played a strong final set and topped Gutierrez, 7-5, 2-6, 6-1, officially sealing the match for the Lancers.
Castano built a 5-1 lead in the third set over Manser before hanging on for a 6-4 victory and 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory in the match.
Liberty will begin preparation for its next Big South foe, Campbell. The Flames will host the Camels next Thursday, March 9, at the Cook Tennis Center, beginning at 2 p.m.