The Liberty Flames men's tennis program received the distinction of 2018 ITA All-Academic Team.
2018 ITA All-Academic Teams & Scholar Athletes - Division I Men
The Liberty Flames men's tennis program received the distinction of 2018 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) All-Academic Team, as revealed by the ITA this week.
The ITA All-Academic Team award is comprised of programs that maintained a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.20 or above (on a 4.0 scale) during the 2017-18 academic year. Liberty men's tennis posted a 3.41 GPA this past school year and holds a 3.18 cumulative GPA.
Additionally, five Flames were named to the 2018 ITA Scholar-Athlete team: Samuel Brown, Chase Burton, Diego Castano, Eddie Gutierrez and Alex Poynter.
To be eligible for the ITA Scholar-Athlete team, a student-athlete must be a varsity letterwinner, have a GPA of at least 3.50 for the current school year and have been enrolled at the present institution for at least two semesters.
"I'm proud of this team's dedication and quality work in the classroom," stated Liberty Men's Tennis Head Coach Derek Schwandt. "Most importantly, our guys have worked hard to create a culture of discipline which will help them in every area of their lives. I'm excited to see Chase and Eddie continue to grow as leaders on and off the court this season."
Brown, who hails from Springfield, Va., is majoring in international relations: strategic intelligence. He started the spring season with a doubles victory alongside Burton, Jan. 19 versus North Carolina A&T.
Burton is making his second appearance as an ITA Scholar-Athlete after also receiving the accolade as a freshman in 2017. The Naples, Fla., native, who is a business administration: entrepreneurship major, maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA during the 2017-18 school year. Burton tied for the team lead in singles victories (23) this past season on his way to becoming a Big South All-Conference selection for the second straight year.
Castano spent the 2017-18 academic year on coursework toward his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree and just recently completed the degree, this summer. On the tennis court, Castano collected 22 singles victories (third on team) and tied for the team lead with 17 doubles triumphs. The Statesville, N.C., native wrapped up his Flames career No. 5 all-time in program history for singles wins (71) and No. 5 in doubles victories (66).
Gutierrez, a business administration: international business major, achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA, this year. The Mexico City, Mexico, native shared the team lead with 23 singles wins and added 15 doubles victories. A few of Gutierrez's highlights included: reaching two singles finals in the fall, starting the spring 8-0 in doubles with partner Vince Salas and being named Big South Men's Tennis Player of the Week on Feb. 14.
Poynter, a business administration: economics major, is now a two-time ITA Scholar-Athlete (also in 2017). On the court, the Houston, Texas, native and his doubles partner, Castano, led all Flames doubles units with 16 triumphs. In singles competition, he collected 16 total victories (eight fall, eight spring) on the year.
In all, 735 teams and 4,328 student-athletes across all five divisions of college tennis were honored. It is the first time since 2015 that Liberty is being honored as an ITA All-Academic Team.
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