Flames Battle No. 6 Longhorns, Fall 4-1 on Friday Evening
In their first-ever appearance at ITA Kickoff Weekend, the Liberty Flames had a strong showing versus the defending national champion Texas Longhorns before falling 4-1, Friday evening at the Texas Tennis Center.
Liberty drops to 1-2 on the season, with both setbacks coming against top-25 teams. The Flames will meet Arizona (2-1) in the consolation match on Saturday. The No. 6-ranked Longhorns bolster their record to 3-0 and will take on No. 9 Florida (3-0) in Saturday's championship match.
Liberty's Nicaise Muamba picked up the second ranked singles victory of his career, a straight-sets decision (6-4, 6-0) over 57th-ranked Siem Woldeab in the No. 1 singles match. Muamba's last win over a top-125 foe prior to Friday night came versus Miami's No. 21 Adria Soriano Barrera on Jan. 18, 2019.
Thoughts From Head Coach Derek Schwandt
"It was a good fight tonight. We will build on the physicality on the counterattack and continue to commit to doubles fundamentals moving forward. We are thankful that we get to go battle again tomorrow."
#6 Texas 4, Liberty 1
1. Nicaise Muamba (LIBERTYM) def. #57 Siem Woldeab (UT) 6-4, 6-0
2. #120 Eliot Spizzirri (UT) def. Josh Wilson (LIBERTYM) 6-4, 6-1
3. #78 Micah Braswell (UT) def. Goncalo Ferreira (LIBERTYM) 6-4, 6-1
4. Cleeve Harper (UT) def. R. Marques Da Silva (LIBERTYM) 6-4, 6-4
5. Chih Chi Huang (UT) vs. Christiaan Worst (LIBERTYM) 7-5, 4-2, unfinished
6. Evin McDonald (UT) vs. Deji Thomas-Smith (LIBERTYM) 7-6 (7-3), 2-4, unfinished
1. Eliot Spizzirri/Siem Woldeab (UT) def. Josh Wilson/Goncalo Ferreira (LIBERTYM) 6-4
2. Payton Holden/Chih Chi Huang (UT) vs. Christiaan Worst/Deji Thomas-Smith (LIBERTYM) 4-4, unfinished
3. Micah Braswell/Cleeve Harper (UT) def. Nicaise Muamba/Thando Longwe-Smit (LIBERTYM) 6-3
Texas 3-0; National ranking #6
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (2,1,3,4)
How It Happened
• Liberty dropped the doubles point for a third consecutive match to fall behind 1-0. Texas' top pairing, Eliot Spizzirri and Siem Woldeab, edged Josh Wilson and Goncalo Ferreira of the Flames 6-4.
• The No. 3 Longhorn duo of Micah Braswell and Cleeve Harper topped Liberty's Nicaise Muamba and Thando Longwe-Smit 6-3 to secure the first point of the match for the home side. The Flames' tandem of Christiaan Worst and Deji Thomas-Smith was tied 4-4 with Texas' Payton Holden and Chih Chi Huang before the match went unfinished.
• Early on in singles, Liberty's Wilson held a 4-2 edge in the first set versus No. 120 Spizzirri. The Texas sophomore rallied to win the set 6-4 and dominated the second set for a 6-4, 6-1 decision and a 2-0 home lead.
• In Muamba's match, he trailed Woldeab 3-0 in the first set. The Liberty junior went on an incredible run, winning 12 of the final 13 games for the 6-4, 6-0 win. Muamba's second victory of the spring trimmed Texas' lead in half, 2-1.
• After a close 6-4 victory in the first set, the Longhorns' No. 78 Braswell took care of business in the second set on the way to a 6-4, 6-1 win versus Goncalo Ferreira on court three for a 3-1 Texas lead.
• Both sets in the No. 4 singles match between reigning ASUN Player of the Week Rafael Marques Da Silva (Liberty) and Harper (Texas) were narrowly taken by Harper. Harper led 5-4 in the second set and served his way to victory (6-4, 6-4), sealing the 4-1 Texas triumph.
• At No. 5 singles, Liberty's Worst led 4-2 in his opening set with Huang before falling 7-5. Huang also led 4-2 in the second set.
• In the No. 6 singles contest, Thomas-Smith of the Flames battled back from an early 3-0 hole to force a first-set tiebreaker with Evin McDonald. McDonald earned the 7-6 (3) victory, but Thomas-Smith held a 4-2 edge in set two when the match was abandoned.
• Friday's bout with Texas marked the first time Liberty had faced a top-10 opponent in nearly six years. Prior to Friday, the Flames played at No. 3 Virginia on the road on Jan. 25, 2015.
• The start of the match was delayed three hours from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. due to courts needing to dry from rain the night prior, in addition to a closely-contested match between No. 9 Florida and Arizona (4-2 Florida win).
• The Flames will square off with the Arizona Wildcats (2-1), who fell to No. 9 Florida, in the consolation match earlier on Friday. The match will take place at 3 p.m. Eastern at the Texas Tennis Center.
• Liberty is 0-1 all-time against Arizona. The Wildcats topped the Flames 6-1 on March 14, 2019 in Tucson, Ariz.
• Visit the schedule page of LibertyFlames.com/menstennis for the links to live video and live scoring.