The Flames (7-11, 0-4 Big South) are looking for their evasive first conference win of 2017, while the Bulldogs (7-11, 1-5 Big South) currently occupy the No. 6 spot in the league standings.
|Liberty men's tennis will face UNC Asheville in Big South competition, Wednesday afternoon.|
Liberty and UNC Asheville are very familiar with each other, as the two programs have squared off 26 times to date. The Bulldogs own a 15-11 all-time series edge. The two teams last met on March 5, 2016, in Lynchburg, a match won by UNC Asheville, 4-3.
Liberty freshmen Vince Salas (16-14 overall, 8-10 spring) and Chase Burton (15-13 overall, 10-8 spring) have the squad's two best singles records. Salas was recognized as the Big South Freshman of the Week on March 22, while Burton received the same honor on two occasions (Feb. 2, Feb. 8). Burton is 5-2 in the No. 1 slot, this spring.
Sophomore captain Eddie Gutierrez (13-15 overall, 9-9 spring) is a combined 7-4 in the No. 2 and No. 3 positions in the lineup during the spring season, while junior captain Diego Castano (13-17 overall, 8-10 spring) has won four of his last seven singles bouts.
Liberty Head Men's Tennis Coach Chris Johnson's strongest doubles pairing for the duration of the 2016-17 season has been Castano and sophomore Alex Poynter (10-7 overall). The duo is 4-6 this spring. Sophomore Max Borcuti and Chase Burton are 7-5 as a tandem during the spring, including four straight victories. Collectively, the Flames are 24-24 (.500) in doubles matches during the spring season.
Season of Streaks
The Flames have struggled to find consistency in 2017. After winning their season-opening matches against King and Bluefield State on Jan. 28, Liberty dropped its next two. When their record stood at 4-3 on Feb. 17 after a win at N.C. Central, the Flames lost their next four matches to fall to 4-7.
Following the four-match losing skid, Liberty won its next three matches over Farleigh Dickinson, Fairfield, and Saint Joseph's in Orlando, Fla. to improve to 7-7. However, the Flames have lost four in a row (East Carolina, Gardner-Webb, No. 17 Georgia Tech and Presbyterian).
Scouting UNC Asheville
The Bulldogs' (7-11, 1-5 Big South) only Big South victory came on Feb. 19 against Radford, a 5-2 triumph at home. Fourth-year head coach Tom Hand's team features two seniors, three sophomores and three freshmen.
Sophomore Henry Patten is a perfect 18-0 at No. 1 singles this spring and has been named the Big South Player of the Week on two occasions. Patten and doubles partner Josh Swindler are 17-1 in the No. 1 doubles slot in 2017. Swindler also boasts a solid singles resume, with a 13-5 record in the No. 2 position.