No. 67 Liberty topped host and top seed No. 71 FGCU, 4-2, in Sunday’s ASUN Championship final at the FGCU Tennis Complex. With the win, the Flames earn its second straight ASUN Conference Championship and the ASUN’s automatic berth into the 2022 Division I Men’s Tennis Championship which will begin on May 6.
Liberty will find out who it faces in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when the 2022 NCAA Men’s Tennis Selection Show airs on May 2 at 6 p.m. on NCAA.com. The Flames’ title is its second in as many years and second in program history. Liberty won its first ever conference title last year.
Liberty’s Thando Longwe-Smit dropped his opening set 6-1 to Juan Lopez at No. 6 singles but rebounded to edge Lopez in a tiebreaker in the second. Longwe-Smit led 4-1 in the third and took a 5-1 lead with a deuce point ace. Up 5-2, Longwe-Smit was able to secure the win and clinch the championship for the Flames.
FGCU won the doubles point and their lone singles point came from Guglielmo Stefanacci on court five, a winner over Thomas-Smith which put the Eagles ahead 2-0 at the time.
Muamba won 10 of the final 12 games of his singles match to earn the decision. Worst won his third singles contest of the weekend and Wilson captured the win, as well. The final two matches, No. 3 and No. 6 singles, both went to third sets. Marques Da Silva led 5-2 in the third set when his match was stopped due to Longwe-Smit’s triumph.
Liberty’s Nicaise Muamba and Josh Wilson were both selected to the ASUN All-Tournament team with the senior Muamba earning ASUN Championship MVP honors. Wilson set a new program record on Sunday as he won his 29th singles match of the 2021-22 season. The junior knocked off ASUN Player of the Year Magnus Johnson of FGCU in straight sets at No. 1 singles to secure the record.
Liberty avenged a 4-3 regular season loss to the Eagles at the FGCU Tennis Complex in late March.
The Flames improve to 13-10 on the year, has won five straight matches overall, and has won three straight matches against ranked opponents. The Flames swept No. 2 seed/No. 75 Kennesaw State 4-0 in Saturday’s semifinals and topped No. 6 seed Jacksonville State in Friday’s quarterfinal round.
*photo courtesy Liberty Athletics