ROCK HILL, SC- The Winthrop Men’s tennis team squared off against the Liberty Flames this Friday afternoon as they looked to keep their undefeated home conference record alive. The Eagles were able to do just that as they overtook the Flames with a 4-3 clinching victory.
The Eagles will carry their 6-10 overall record and 2-1 conference record into this Sunday’s Big South rivalry showdown against Radford University. Radford and Winthrop have combined for the last 9 Big South Championships; the first serve is slated for 1 p.m. at the Winthrop Memorial Courts.
Liberty came out on fire in the doubles round but Winthrop was able to weather the storm as they enjoyed victories at the top two positions. Sophomores Dylan Comerford (Johannesburg, South Africa) and Peter Nagovnak (Kraubath, Austria) posted an 8-5 victory at the top spot over Liberty’s Thomas and Samaai. The freshmen tandem of Steven Patrick (Knoxville, Tennessee) and Corey Decandia (Adelaide, Australia) came ready and never backed down against Segur and Azuero as they produced an 8-6 win for the Eagles.
Liberty almost pulled off the upset in the singles round but the Eagles proved they were too tough to overcome as they reeled off three singles victories to seal the match. Junior Yuta Hirokawa (Niigata, Japan) turned his match into a sprint as he finished first in a swift 6-2, 6-1 win over Dillon Segur. With the Eagles now up 2-0 on the Flames, Liberty was able to even the score with two victories at the Nos. 1 and 4 positions as Comerford and freshman Juan Pablo Boada (La Paz, Bolivia) both fell 7-5, 6-2. Decandia put the Eagles back on top with a confident 7-6, 6-4 win over Stan Vaughan at the No. 6 spot. Freshman Ivar Aramburu (Puebla, Mexico) experienced a roller coaster match at the No. 2 spot, trading breaks back and forth with Liberty’s Shea Thomas. Thomas was able to get the final edge and serve out the match as he defeated Aramburu 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. With the match knotted up at 3-3, Winthrop’s No. 5, Peter Nagovnak was now left in the same position he found himself in last weekend against Campbell University. Having tasted bitter defeat last weekend, Nagovnak put the past behind him as he consolidated the clinch with a 1-6, 7-6, 7-5 triumph over Egon Samaai.
Winthrop Eagles head coach, Andrew Stubbs commented after the match, “As always, it was a hard fought conference match. I thought both teams competed well today. We are learning and growing with every match we play and this experience is all part of the developmental process for our team’s long term success.”