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Flames Claim 3 Matches on First Day of Duke Invite, Friday

September 20, 2019  Cary, N.C.  RSS
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Sturgill won in straight sets on day one of the Duke Invite.

Sturgill won in straight sets on day one of the Duke Invite.

The Liberty Flames men's tennis team claimed three matches on day one of the Duke James Bonk Invite, Friday at Cary Tennis Park.

Sophomore Ian Sturgill won his first singles match of the tournament in straight sets. Sophomore William Barker and freshman Joseph Emerson each won in three sets on the first day of competition.

"It was a strong finish today by Will and Joseph. We are looking to build on our self-talk and compete as hard as we can," said Flames third-year head coach Derek Schwandt.

Sturgill defeated NC State's Tristan Smith 6-2, 6-1 in his round of 16 match of the White men's singles flight, his fourth victory of the fall campaign. The Madison Heights, Va., native has now won 21 career singles bouts and sports a 13-5 record in fall tournaments over the past two seasons. Sturgill will face off against Virginia Tech's Brandon Perez in a quarterfinal match, Saturday at 11 a.m.

Barker, entered in the Black singles bracket, came back to defeat Ryan Kros of Virginia Tech in three sets, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7). The Statesville, N.C., native is now 10-5 in singles matches over the past two fall seasons. Barker's draw is a round robin format, meaning he will not advance through a conventional bracket. Instead, the sophomore will play three different opponents over the next two days. On Saturday, he will take Elon's Sam Dively in the morning (11 a.m.), followed by an afternoon match (2:30 p.m.) against Gardner-Webb's Victor Putter.

Emerson, also entered in the Black singles flight, erased a one-set deficit and topped Charlotte's Peter Glenn 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5. He will take on Joe Ellis of North Florida at 11 a.m. and Chen Ruo of William & Mary at 2:30 p.m., Saturday.

Liberty did not win a doubles match on day one. However, Chase Burton and Ian Sturgill played a pair of tightly-contested matches in the Black doubles draw. The duo fell to North Florida's Nilo Duarte and Jorge Nunez by a 7-5 score in the quarterfinals. The Flames pairing lost in a tiebreaker to Duke's Sean Sculley and Nick Stachowiak, 7-6 (3).

In the first round of the White men's doubles flight, Steve Mundt and Emerson lost in a lengthy tiebreaker to Furman's Ivan Mitric and Jake Bhangdia, 7-6 (11).

Day two of the invitational will start at 9 a.m. with finals of doubles, followed by two rounds of singles.