Shea Thomas picked up a big win for the Flames while in Athens.
Sophomore Shea Thomas' victory over a seeded opponent in the opening round highlighted the Liberty men's tennis team's 11 victories in the 44th annual Southern Intercollegiate Championships over the weekend. This year's playing of the oldest fall collegiate tennis tournament in America featured players from 26 different schools, and featured some of the top-ranked players in the country, as the University of Georgia hosted the tournament in Athens, Ga. In singles play, three Flames advanced into the second round after beginning with victories. Thomas opened by facing Vikram Hundal of Georgia Tech, who ranked 30th nationally in the class of 2011 according to Tennis Recruiting Network and held a No. 3 seed in the Division II singles draw. After dropping the opening set, 6-2, Thomas commandingly won the final two sets, 6-1, 6-2. "Shea had a really big win against the No. 3 seed. We come to these big tournaments to get strong wins and Shea did just that. It was a very proud moment for Liberty Tennis," stated head coach Chris Johnson. Giancarlo Lemmi also picked up a quality win in the Division II singles draw, taking down Zach Pine of Virginia Tech in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6 (4). The Flames' senior then nearly picked up his own win over an alpha seed, as he fell to North Carolina State's Robbie Mudge in three sets, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 7-6 (6). Freshman Jorge Azuero also earned an opening round victory, defeating Eastern Tennessee State's Connor Knox, 6-3, 6-2. Liberty claimed four more singles victories in the event, as Siim Tuus, Tristan Stayt, Wayne Harrell and Stanislav Vaughan each won one consolation match in their respective draws. Doubles play saw the Flames add four more victories to their total with three different teams taking a match. Stayt and Harrell advanced to the quarterfinals behind a pair of wins in the Division II doubles draw. The Flames' duo first defeated Rich Meade and Yuta Kirokawa of Winthrop, 8-4. Next, the pair defeated North Carolina State's Beck Bond and Ivan Sanchez Gomez, 8-4, before falling to Kentucky's Maks Gold and Ryuji Hirooka. Meanwhile, partners Lemmi and Azuero, and Thomas and Segur each posted an opening round win, also in the Division II doubles draw. The Flames return to action on Oct. 1, when they are slated to compete in Tulsa, Okla., for the 2011 ITA Men's All-American Championships.