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Big South Leader Liberty Heads to California for 3 Matches

March 15, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty (9-7, 3-0 BSC) is set for three matches on the West Coast.

Liberty (9-7, 3-0 BSC) is set for three matches on the West Coast.

Big South leader Liberty (9-7, 3-0 Big South) will take a break from conference competition when it heads to California for matches at UC Irvine (Friday), Point Loma Nazarene (Saturday) and San Diego State (Wednesday).

Friday's match between the Flames and UC Irvine Anteaters (7-7) is pegged for a 2 p.m. (Eastern, all times listed as Eastern) start at the Anteater Tennis Stadium in Irvine, Calif.

Following their match with UC Irvine, Liberty will head to San Diego for a bout against the Point Loma Nazarene Sea Lions (7-4) on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the PLNU Tennis Courts.

Next Wednesday, the Flames will battle the San Diego State Aztecs (2-9) at the Aztec Tennis Center beginning at 9 p.m.

How to Follow the Flames  
Saturday's match between Liberty and Point Loma Nazarene will feature live video and scoring. A Stretch Internet account is required to access video and scoring. Find the links on the men's tennis schedule page on

There will be no live video or scoring for the Liberty-UC Irvine and Liberty-San Diego State matches. However, follow @LibertyMTennis on Twitter for recaps of the matches.

Series History
Liberty is 0-1 all-time against UC Irvine. The Flames fell, 4-2, on March 9, 2016 to the No. 57 Anteaters in Irvine, Calif., in the first meeting between the two schools.

Liberty will be facing both Point Loma Nazarene and San Diego State for the first time in program history. The Flames have familiarity with the Aztecs, as they played at the Aztec Fall Invitational, this past fall (Oct. 6-8).

Flames News and Notes

  • Liberty is 3-0 in the Big South for the first time since 2015. The Flames, who were picked to finish sixth in the league this year, have a half-game lead on Campbell (2-0) and Winthrop (2-0) in the conference standings.
  • Three Flames rank in the top 10 in program history for career singles wins: Diego Castano (4th, 66), Sam Matheson (8th, 59) and Eddie Gutierrez (10th, 50).
  • Flames junior Eddie Gutierrez notched his 50th career singles victory, last Saturday against UNC Asheville. The native of Mexico leads the team with a 19-12 singles mark, this year.
  • Castano is first in the Big South in No. 6 singles winning percentage (.750, 9-3 record). Matheson (9-5 record) places No. 2 in the league in No. 1 singles winning percentage (.643).
  • Gutierrez and Vince Salas rank second in the conference in with a .800 (8-2) doubles winning percentage.


Scouting UC Irvine
The Anteaters, who will take on Gonzaga (Thursday) and Yale (Friday) prior to facing Liberty on Friday, are on a four-match winning streak which has featured triumphs over Villanova, Boston University, Idaho and Lehigh. Luis Lopez (10-4 overall, 7-2 spring) is 5-1 in the No. 1 slot in the lineup to lead UC Irvine. In doubles, head coach Mike Saunders' squad is 13-16 overall.

Scouting Point Loma Nazarene
The Sea Lions, a Division II program, will enter Saturday's bout with Liberty on a five-match winning streak which started on Feb. 23. They've defeated Westmont, Western New Mexico, Holy Names, Bucknell and Colorado Mesa in that span. Point Loma Nazarene is 37-24 overall in singles matches, led by Thomas Dafcik (8-2 No. 1). In doubles, head coach Curt Wheeler's team is led by two undefeated duos – Dafcik/Yuki Okamoto (5-0) and Jack Alston/Brendon Millington (4-0).

Scouting San Diego State
The Aztecs are 2-9 overall and 1-0 in the Mountain West so far. Despite their struggles, they have a victory over No. 28 San Diego, 4-3, on Feb. 23 and faced a challenging 2018 slate. Rafael Gonzalez Almazan has the best singles record for the Aztecs at 5-5. For doubles, head coach Gene Carswell's team is led by Santiago Cevallos and Gonzalez Almazan (3-1).