No. 66 Liberty to Face No. 7 Kentucky at 2023 ITA Kickoff Weekend
The Liberty men’s tennis squad will compete at ITA Kickoff Weekend for a third straight year. The Flames will head to Kentucky’s Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Complex in Jan. 2023 during the early part of its spring campaign.
The 2021 and 2022 ASUN champion Flames, the No. 4 seed and 66th-ranked squad at the end of the 2022 campaign, will face the No. 1 seed and No. 7-ranked Kentucky Wildcats on Jan. 27, 2023. The Wildcats reached the NCAA title match for the first time in program history and finished as the runner-up in 2022. No. 38 Notre Dame (No. 2 seed) and No. 39 Washington (No. 3 seed) comprise the rest of the four-team field and will face each other on Jan. 27 as well. The ITA held its Kickoff Weekend draft this week.
“It’s an awesome opportunity for our team to represent Liberty at ITA National Indoor Kickoff Weekend,” said Liberty sixth-year head coach Derek Schwandt. “We are excited to prepare for this starting with our summer tournaments.”
The winners of the two matches will meet in the championship match on Jan. 28, 2023, while the other two squads will battle in a consolation contest. There are 15 host sites on the men’s side, with four teams competing at each site. The winner at each site will advance to the 48th Annual ITA Division I Men’s Team Indoor Championship, hosted by Illinois at the Atkins Tennis Center in Champaign, Ill.
Liberty (13-11, 6-2 ASUN in 2022) and Kentucky (26-8, 10-2 SEC in 2022) will be meeting for the first time. The Flames have also never faced No. 2 seed Notre Dame (16-13, 5-7 ACC in 2022). Liberty and Washington (18-12, 2-6 Pac-12) squared off for the first time in 2019, with the Huskies prevailing in a close match by a 4-3 score.
This will be the Flames’ third appearance at ITA Kickoff Weekend. In its inaugural kickoff weekend in 2021, Liberty faced host No. 6 Texas and Arizona. At 2022 ITA Kickoff Weekend, the Flames faced Duke and LSU at South Carolina’s Carolina Tennis Center. Liberty (0-4) will be in search of its first win at kickoff weekend. The Flames nearly knocked off LSU this past spring, falling 4-3.
Friday, Jan. 27, 2023
No. 7 Kentucky vs. No. 66 Liberty – Time TBA
No. 38 Notre Dame vs. No. 39 Washington – Time TBA
Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023
Championship match – Time TBA
Consolation match – Time TBA