Sunday, February 5, 2017

James Madison Gets Past Liberty, 4-3

Liberty led visiting James Madison, 3-2, but the Dukes rallied for a 4-3 victory on Saturday afternoon at the Crosswhite Athletic Club.

The loss is the Flames' first of 2017 and drops them to 2-1, while JMU improved to 2-2 with the victory.

Liberty took the doubles point by winning two of three matches. JMU got off to a quick start, as its No. 2 squad of Theophile Lanthiez and Paul Mendoza topped Liberty's Ryker Heller and Eddie Gutierrez, 6-1.

The Flames' No. 1 team of Chase Burton and Max Borcuti were all squared up, 3-3, with the Dukes' Miljan Ruzic and Sebastian Salinas before winning the final three games for a 6-3 victory. Just moments later, Vince Salas and Diego Castano wrapped up a 6-3 win over Brett Moorhead and Tate Steinour to give the Flames the doubles point for an early 1-0 edge.

Borcuti (right) and Burton (left) won at No. 1 doubles over JMU.
James Madison won four of its six singles matches on the day, starting with Damon Roberts' 7-5, 6-3 victory over Liberty's Vince Salas at No. 3 singles.

Gutierrez fell into an early 4-1 hole in his No. 2 singles match with Salinas, but the sophomore seized five of the last six games for a 7-5 set one victory. He carried the momentum into the second to dominate Salinas, 6-0, and win in straight sets, 7-5, 6-0.

Castano led in the early stages of his match with Moorhead, but Moorhead closed strong with a 7-6, 6-4 triumph to tie the match at 2-2.

In the No. 1 singles match, Burton bounced back from a tough tiebreaker loss in the first set to defeat Lanthiez, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3. He led 4-3 in both the second and third sets and closed out his opponent with consecutive wins in each set to improve to 3-0 in singles play this spring. Burton's victory pushed the Flames' overall lead to 3-2 over the Dukes.

The remaining two matches, No. 5 and No. 6 singles, went to James Madison. Mendoza defeated Borcuti, 6-4, 6-4, and Steinour closed out the victory for the visiting side with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Heller.

"It was a close match today. These are the ones that hurt," said Liberty Head Men's Tennis Coach Chris Johnson. "Hats off to JMU for pulling through some close matches."

The Flames return to competition on Wednesday afternoon at Elon at 2 p.m.

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