4 Liberty Players and Schwandt Receive ASUN Men’s Tennis Major Postseason Honors
ASUN champion Liberty was well-represented in today's release of the 2021 ASUN Conference Men's Tennis Postseason Honors & Awards.
The 48th-ranked Flames' Nicaise Muamba has been named the ASUN Player of the Year for a second time in his career. Liberty's Deji Thomas-Smith and Christiaan Worst have been selected as the ASUN Doubles Pair of the Year.
Liberty Men's Tennis Head Coach Derek Schwandt is the 2021 ASUN Coach of the Year, while Josh Wilson has been named the ASUN Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
In addition to the Flames' major awards, Liberty led all ASUN squads with four all-conference team members – Muamba (first team), Rafael Marques Da Silva (first team), Thomas-Smith (first team) and Wilson (second team). The Flames also featured two ASUN All-Freshman team selections in Marques Da Silva and Thomas-Smith. Finally, both Wilson and Steve Mundt represented the Flames on the ASUN All-Academic team.
2021 NCAA Men's Tennis Championship Awaits the Flames
Liberty captured its first conference title in program history last Saturday, defeating FGCU 4-0 in the ASUN Championship final. The Flames have recorded a program-record 20 wins this season and have been nationally ranked since March 24.
Liberty is preparing for its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Team Championship. The NCAA Men's Tennis Selection Show will take place Monday at 6:30 p.m. on NCAA.com.
Muamba is receiving his second ASUN Player of the Year distinction after receiving the same award in 2019. He is the first player in program history to be named conference player of the year on two occasions. Muamba was also unanimously voted to the ASUN All-Conference first team. The junior, who is currently ranked No. 106 in singles, earned three ASUN Player of the Week honors this spring and has posted a 4-1 mark versus nationally-ranked players. Muamba is 16-5 in the No. 1 singles slot this year.
Muamba reached as high as No. 82 in the Oracle/ITA Division I Men's Singles Rankings on March 30. He has ranked wins over Texas' No. 57 Siem Woldeab, Charlotte's No. 90 Henry Lieberman, Duke's No. 115 Garrett Johns and Florida Atlantic's No. 122 Maxime Lapraille.
In doubles, Muamba holds a 17-7 overall mark, including a 16-5 record with partner Rafael Marques Da Silva. The duo was 9-3 in the No. 2 position and 7-2 in the No. 3 slot. Muamba and Marques Da Silva led all Flames doubles units in victories, went 3-0 at No. 2 doubles in ASUN Championship play and helped Liberty claim the doubles point in the ASUN title match with a 6-3 win over FGCU's Juan Montes and Felipe Ramirez on court two.
Deji Thomas-Smith/Christiaan Worst
Thomas-Smith and Worst are the first pairing in program history to earn ASUN Doubles Pair of the Year recognition. The duo won the most crucial doubles match of the year, 7-6 (4) over FGCU's Magnus Johnson and Max Damm in the ASUN Championship title match.
Thomas-Smith and Worst finished second on the squad with 10 doubles wins, posting a 10-6 record. They were 7-4 in the No. 1 position in the lineup and won seven of their last 10 matches overall.
This is the first ASUN Coach of the Year honor for Schwandt and his second conference coach of the year award in just four seasons with the Flames. Schwandt received Big South Coach of the Year accolades in his first season at Liberty in 2018.
Schwandt has taken the Flames to new heights in 2021, leading the team to a school-record 20 wins. Liberty garnered its first national ranking in school history, a No. 43 ranking, on March 24 and has been nationally ranked every week since that point. Schwandt and the Flames are currently listed at No. 48 in the country.
Wilson's honor gives Liberty back-to-back ASUN Scholar-Athletes of the Year after Chase Burton received the same award in 2019. The sophomore from Reigate, United Kingdom has maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA while majoring in business administration – economics. Wilson is also a two-time ITA Scholar Athlete and two-time ASUN Academic Honor Roll recipient.
This marks the second time Wilson has been named to an ASUN All-Conference squad after he earned ASUN Freshman of the Year and ASUN All-Conference first team honors in 2019 as well. Wilson earned ASUN Player of the Week recognition once this season (Feb. 3) and won eight singles matches and 12 doubles contests.
Wilson was 6-5 at No. 2 singles and 2-1 in the No. 3 position. He teamed up with Steve Mundt in doubles starting on April 3, and the duo went 7-1 in the No. 3 slot, with two of those wins coming during ASUN Championship play.
Rafael Marques Da Silva
The ASUN Championship MVP and an ASUN All-Tournament team selection, Marques Da Silva is a unanimous selection to the ASUN All-Conference first team and also made the ASUN All-Freshman team. Marques Da Silva went 6-0 in the ASUN Championship (3-0 No. 2 singles, 3-0 No. 2 doubles) and had a conference-best four ASUN Player of the Week honors this season.
Marques Da Silva sports a 19-6 singles record and leads the team in singles wins while also sharing the team lead with 17 doubles triumphs. Marques Da Silva earned his first career ranked singles win, a two-set victory (6-3, 6-3) over Charlotte's No. 88 Ignasi de Rueda on April 11 at the Liberty Tennis Complex.
Marques Da Silva is 9-2 in the No. 2 singles slot and also has two victories at No. 1, six victories at No. 3 and four victories at No. 4. In doubles, Marques Da Silva and Nicaise Muamba paced the squad with a 16-5 record (9-3 No. 2, 7-2 No. 3).
An ASUN All-Tournament team selection, Thomas-Smith gives the Flames three of the six players on the ASUN All-Conference first team. A native of London, United Kingdom, Thomas-Smith earned his first career ASUN Player of the Week honor on March 24. Thomas-Smith also earned ASUN All-Freshman team recognition for his efforts this spring.
Thomas-Smith clinched the ASUN title last Saturday with his No. 4 singles victory over Felipe Ramirez (7-5, 6-4) of FGCU. Thomas-Smith played a huge role at No. 1 doubles in the championship match, as he and Christiaan Worst won a thrilling tiebreaker to give the Flames the first point of the day.
Thomas-Smith is currently third on the squad with 15 singles wins and sports a 4-0 mark at No. 2 singles while winning five No. 4 singles contests.
Mundt holds a 3.83 GPA as a business administration – economics major. The native of Berlin, Germany is also a two-time ITA Scholar Athlete and two-time ASUN Academic Honor Roll recipient.
On the court, Mundt has eight doubles victories and one singles victory this spring. Mundt and doubles partner Josh Wilson are 7-1 in the No. 3 doubles slot and won two matches in the ASUN Championship.
2021 ASUN Conference Men's Tennis Postseason Honors & Awards
Players of the Year: Magnus Johnson, FGCU & Nicaise Muamba, Liberty
Doubles Pair of the Year: Deji Thomas-Smith & Christiaan Worst, Liberty
Freshman of the Year: Magnus Johnson, FGCU
Coach of the Year: Derek Schwandt, Liberty
ASUN First Team All-Conference
*Magnus Johnson, FGCU, Fr.
*Nicaise Muamba, Liberty, Jr.
*Rafael Marques Da Silva, Liberty, Fr.
Deji Thomas-Smith, Liberty, Fr.
Pablo Caffarena, Lipscomb, Gr.
Dominik Barton, North Florida, So.
ASUN Second Team All-Conference
Juan Montes, FGCU, Jr.
Raul Garcia, Kennesaw State, Fr.
Sergio Ingles, Kennesaw State, Sr.
Josh Wilson, Liberty, So.
Pedro Uribe, Lipscomb, Sr.
Diogo Marques, Stetson, Jr.
ASUN All-Freshman Team
*Magnus Johnson, FGCU
*Rafael Marques Da Silva, Liberty
Randy Wilson, FGCU
Raul Garcia, Kennesaw State
Deji Thomas-Smith, Liberty
PJ Kotan, North Florida
* – Denotes a unanimous selection
2021 ASUN Conference Men's Tennis All-Academic Team
Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Josh Wilson, Liberty
2021 ASUN Conference All-Academic Team
Josh Wilson, Liberty, So.
Emil B. Berglund, Bellarmine, Fr.
Steve Mundt, Liberty, So.
Pablo Caffarena, Lipscomb, Gr.
Gonzalo Garcia-Nieto, Lipscomb, Sr.
Andreas Hansen, North Alabama, Gr.