Boiling Springs, N.C. - On Saturday, Gardner-Webb's men's tennis team used a dominating effort in singles play to sweep all six positions and stun the visiting Liberty Flames, 6-1, at the Webb Tennis Complex.
GWU (8-5, 2-2 Big South) evened its Conference record in defeating the Flames for the ? time
To pull off the win, Gardner-Webb had to fight from an early deficit incurred during doubles play.
Liberty (9-6, 2-2 Big South) was able to win the doubles point to open the match, setting the tone early by sweeping the three doubles matches. Samaii/Thomas knocked off Matt Parker and Benjamin Kaszás' bid for the Runnin' Bulldogs at No. 1 doubles, taking an 8-2 match. Nikita Zverkov and Ernest Alberch suffered an 8-4 loss against Segur/Azuero at No. 2. At a lengthy No. 3 doubles match, Brendan Dempsey and Joao Poli were unable to quell a rally from Tuus/Secanell who took an 8-6 win by holding serve in the last game.
Down 1-0 entering singles play, the Runnin' Bulldogs proved that they would not go quietly, winning the first set in the matches at No.'s 1-6 singles, fully swinging the momentum of the match in Gardner-Webb's favor.
At No. 1 singles, Adam Knutsson-Sundblad (Gothenburg, Sweden) cruised to a straight set win over Siim Tuus, controlling the pace of the match to win 6-0, 6-2.
Knutsson-Sundblad's quick win at No. 1 set the table for GWU's rally, as did a quick start from Kaszás (Budapest, Hungary), who went up 6-2 on Shea Thomas of Liberty after set one.
At No. 6, Dempsey finished off a win to put the Runnin' Bulldogs within two victories of defeating the Flames overall. The sophomore from Dublin, Ireland won 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 against Stan Vaughan.
Freshman Nikita Zverkov (Moscow, Russia) stepped up to win a crucial second set tiebreak and win the match at No. 5 singles, pulling GWU within one singles win of a comeback win. Zverkov outlasted the Flames' No. 5 player Egon Samaai to win by a 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) margin.
The clincher for Gardner-Webb came at No. 2, where Kaszás wrapped up a straight set win over Thomas. The freshman took a 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) win to finish off GWU's comeback and seal the match in the Runnin' Bulldogs' favor.
With the outcome in hand, a tight battle between GWU's Roman Piftor and Liberty's Dillon Segur at No. 3 singles went to ten-point tiebreak. Piftor would take the tiebreak, winning the No. 3 singles match 6-4, 4-6, 10-1.
Alberch (Torello, Spain) finished the sweep at No. 4 singles. The sophomore, pitted against the Flames' Jorge Azuero, won a back-and-forth first set by tiebreak, and took control in the second to complete a 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 triumph.
The dominant singles effort displayed by the Runnin' Bulldogs on Saturday helped GWU win its eighth match in ten tries and helped the squad stay in the middle of the pack in the Big South with Conference play heating up late in the month of March.
Against Liberty, Dempsey (9 wins), Alberch (8 wins), Piftor (8 wins), Kaszás (6 wins), Zverkov (6 wins), and Knutsson-Sundblad (5 wins) improved on their season win totals.
Gardner-Webb is scheduled for a match on Monday, March 25 against Big South member Presbyterian. Monday's match is slated for a 2:30 p.m. start time.