Liberty Falls to No. 22 Virginia in Season Opener, Sunday Afternoon
The Liberty Flames men's tennis team fell 7-0 to the host No. 22 Virginia Cavaliers in its 2021 season opener, Sunday afternoon at Boar's Head Sports Club.
Virginia (1-0) claimed 15 of 16 total sets in the match on its way to victory. Liberty (0-1) drops its fourth straight spring season opener. The Flames have faced ACC schools each of the last four years to open the season (Virginia Tech in 2018, Miami in 2019 and 2020, Virginia in 2021).
Liberty's Rafael Marques Da Silva, who led the team with 10 spring singles victories last season, was the lone Flame to win a set in the match. The São Paulo, Brazil native battled against the Cavaliers' Iñaki Montes de la Torre but fell in a third-set tiebreaker, as Montes emerged victorious 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1).
#22 Virginia 7, Liberty 0
1. #29 Carl Soderlund (VA) def. Nicaise Muamba (LIBERTYM) 6-3, 6-3
2. #105 J vd Schulenburg (VA) def. Josh Wilson (LIBERTYM) 6-1, 6-2
3. Ryan Goetz (VA) def. Goncalo Ferreira (LIBERTYM) 6-0, 6-4
4. Inaki Montes (VA) def. R. Marques Da Silva (LIBERTYM) 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-1)
5. Chris Rodesch (VA) def. Christiaan Worst (LIBERTYM) 6-3, 6-4
6. Gianni Ross (VA) def. Zion Heaven (LIBERTYM) 6-3, 6-2
1. Carl Soderlund/William Woodall (VA) def. Josh Wilson/Goncalo Ferreira (LIBERTYM) 6-2
2. Ryan Goetz/Chris Rodesch (VA) vs. Deji Thomas-Smith/Christiaan Worst (LIBERTYM) 4-2, unfinished
3. Inaki Montes/J vd Schulenburg (VA) def. Nicaise Muamba/Thando Longwe-Smit (LIBERTYM) 6-2
Virginia 1-0; National ranking #22
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (2,3,6,5,1,4)
How It Happened
• Virginia jumped out to an early 1-0 edge in the match by securing the doubles point. The Cavaliers' top duo of Carl Soderlund and William Woodall took down the Flames' Josh Wilson and Goncalo Ferreira 6-2. UVA made it 1-0 in the match when their No. 3 pairing, Montes de la Torre and Jeffrey von der Schulenburg, defeated the Liberty's Nicaise Muamba and Thando Longwe-Smit 6-2.
• In singles play, Virginia won first sets on every court but court four. The Cavaliers' von der Schulenburg (No. 105) was the first player to close out his match for the home side. The UVA freshman topped Liberty's Josh Wilson 6-1, 6-2 on court two for a 2-0 advantage in the contest.
• UVA's Ryan Goetz got off to a strong start versus Goncalo Ferreira of the Flames at No. 3 singles and went on to win 6-0, 6-4. The match-clinching fourth point went to Virginia senior Gianni Ross at No. 6 singles, who topped Liberty's Zion Heaven in two sets (6-3, 6-2) in Heaven's Liberty debut.
• Also making his Flames debut, Vanderbilt transfer Christiaan Worst (No. 5 singles) dropped his match with Chris Rodesch in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. Worst led 4-2 in the second set, but Rodesch claimed four consecutive games en route to victory and a 5-0 home lead.
• No. 29 Soderlund (UVA) prevailed 6-3, 6-3 over the Flames' Muamba in the No. 1 singles bout. Soderlund's triumph made it 6-0 Cavaliers.
• The final match on court between Marques Da Silva (Liberty) and Montes de la Torre needed three sets to decide a winner. Marques Da Silva led 4-0 in the third, but Montes de la Torre took the next five games for a 5-4 lead. Marques Da Silva broke serve to even the set at 5-all but then had his serve broken to fall behind 6-5. The second-year Liberty player once again broke Montes de la Torre to send the match to a tiebreaker, but the Virginia freshman prevailed 7-1 in the tiebreaker.
• Virginia now holds a 10-0 all-time series edge over Liberty.
• Sunday's contest was the Flames' first match in 312 days. Liberty had last competed on March 11, 2020 at No. 50 San Diego.
• The Flames will welcome the Elon Phoenix (0-0) to Lynchburg for a match on Monday afternoon. The contest is set to begin at 3 p.m. at Crosswhite Athletic Club. Liberty is 15-2 at home over the last three years under head coach Derek Schwandt.
• Liberty and Elon last met in 2020. The Flames swept the Phoenix 7-0 in that match. Elon holds a 10-3 edge in the all-time series.
• Liberty's indoor matches at Crosswhite Athletic Club will be closed to the public, this spring. Attendance will be limited to teams, officials, athletic training staffs and personnel essential to hosting the event. Fans are encouraged to follow live scoring for the match and stay tuned to Liberty Men's Tennis social media accounts for live in-match updates.