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MTSU Edges Liberty 4-3 in Florida, Saturday

January 18, 2020  Fort Myers, Fla.  RSS
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Lovato picked up her second singles victory of the spring on Saturday against MTSU.

Lovato picked up her second singles victory of the spring on Saturday against MTSU.

The Liberty women's tennis team lost for the first time this season, falling 4-3 to Middle Tennessee in a neutral site bout at the FGCU Tennis Complex on Saturday.

The Lady Flames wrap up opening weekend with a 1-1 record. The Blue Raiders are 1-0 after the victory. Saturday's contest marked the first-ever meeting between the two schools in women's tennis.

The match, which lasted nearly four hours, was tied up at 3-3 and featured a third set on court five to decide the outcome. In that contest, Middle Tennessee's Muskan Gupta led Liberty freshman Micaela Ode Mitre 5-2 in the final set. Ode Mitre battled back to even the set at 5-all, but Gupta took the next two games and the match 6-7 (4), 6-2, 7-5 to give MTSU the win.

Middle Tennessee 4, Liberty 3

Singles Competition
1. Kalani Soli (LIBERTYW) def. Lee Barnard (MT) 6-2, 6-1
2. Alexandra Almborg (LIBERTYW) def. Zani Barnard (MT) 6-3, 7-5
3. Esther Lovato (LIBERTYW) def. Lidia Burrows (MT) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
4. Marta Peris Herrero (MT) def. Tiffany Nguyen (LIBERTYW) 6-3, 6-4
5. Muskan Gupta (MT) def. Micaela Ode Mitre (LIBERTYW) 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 7-5
6. Noelle Mauro (MT) def. Grace Hashiguchi (LIBERTYW) 7-5, 6-0

Doubles Competition
1. Lee Barnard/Zani Barnard (MT) def. Tiffany Nguyen/Micaela Ode Mitre (LIBERTYW) 7-6 (7-4)
2. Kalani Soli/Eloise Saraty (LIBERTYW) def. Marta Peris Herrero/Lidia Burrows (MT) 7-6 (9-7)
3. Noelle Mauro/Muskan Gupta (MT) def. Esther Lovato/Alexandra Almborg (LIBERTYW) 6-2

Middle Tennessee 1-0
Liberty 1-1
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (1,2,6,4,3,5)

Thoughts From Head Coach Jeff Maren
"We had our chances in doubles and several opportunities in singles but couldn't convert. MTSU is a very good team. They kept the pressure on us throughout the matches. We will learn a lot from this one and get better as a result. I'm very proud of how hard we fought today. We never gave up. To God be the glory!"

How It Happened
• The Blue Raiders won the crucial doubles point as junior sisters Lee and Zani Barnard topped Liberty's Tiffany Nguyen and Micaela Ode Mitre in a tiebreaker 7-6 (4) in the No. 1 match to seize a 1-0 lead.
• MTSU's pairing of Noelle Mauro and Muskan Gupta got the Blue Raiders off to a strong start on court three with a 6-2 triumph over their counterparts Esther Lovato and Alexandra Almborg.
• Liberty's one doubles win came from Kalani Soli and Eloise Saraty on court two. The duo was victorious for a second straight day, defeating Marta Peris Herrero and Lidia Burrows by a 7-6 (7) score.
• The Lady Flames squandered four match point opportunities in doubles.
• The two teams split the six singles matches, with Liberty winning the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 matches and Middle Tennessee taking the No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 matches.
• The Lady Flames' Soli earned a straight-sets (6-2, 6-1) decision over Lee Barnard, evening the match at 1-1. Liberty's Almborg provided the team a 2-1 lead with her 6-3, 7-5 decision over Zani Barnard on court two.
• The Blue Raiders bounced back with victories on courts six and four to claim a 3-2 lead. In the No. 6 match, Mauro knocked off Liberty junior Grace Hashiguchi 7-5, 6-0. Peris Herrero's 6-3, 6-4 victory against Nguyen (No. 4 singles) pushed MTSU into the lead, 3-2.
• Lady Flames freshman Esther Lovato collected her team-best 11th singles victory of the 2019-20 campaign. The Austin, Texas, native took down Burrows in three sets (6-4, 4-6, 6-3) at No. 3 singles to even the match prior to Gupta sealing the match for MTSU.

Next Up
• Liberty will return home to face the Georgetown Hoyas (0-1) a week from today (Jan. 25). First serve is slated for 1 p.m. at Crosswhite Athletic Club in Lynchburg.
• This will be the second-ever meeting between the two programs. The Hoyas topped the Lady Flames 7-0 in Liberty's season opener in 2012.