The Liberty men’s tennis team went from a state of euphoria to undeniable misery in less than 24 hours.
The Flames announced early Tuesday evening they were withdrawing from the NCAA Tournament. The program stated it would be unable to compete because of COVID-19 contact tracing.
“It’s heartbreaking for the team to miss out on an opportunity to compete in the NCAA Tournament,” Liberty athletic director Ian McCaw said in a phone interview.
News of the season’s abrupt end comes roughly 23 hours after Liberty was penciled in to face North Carolina State in Friday morning’s first-round match at Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia, South Carolina.
Liberty, currently ranked 48th in the nation, qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. Two individuals (Sam Matheson in 2016 and Nicaise Muamba in 2019) previously had competed in men’s singles competition.
The Flames secured the ASUN Conference’s automatic bid after defeating FGCU 4-0 on April 24.
The Eagles, by virtue of the Flames’ withdrawal, will now face N.C. State at 10 a.m. Friday.
Liberty was ranked every week since March 24 and moved up to as high as 40th on March 30. The Flames’ 20 victories are the most in program history, and they were a perfect 9-0 against league foes. Liberty went 0-7 in Big South Conference play in the 2016-17 season.
“Liberty tennis is on an incredible upward trajectory,” McCaw said. “ … This team has made tremendous strides.”
MEN’S SOCCERBlow named ODAC soccer player of the year
Randolph senior forward Evan Blow was named the Old Dominion Athletic Conference player of the year Tuesday, and conference champion Lynchburg placed a league-high eight on the all-conference teams.
Blow, a Charlottesville native, led the ODAC in points (23), goals scored (11), shots (61) and game-winning goals (four). He joins Corey Sindle (2011 and 2013) as the only players in RC history to earn the distinction.
Lynchburg forward Luke Mega, midfielder Ben Mackey, defender Joey Daly and goalkeeper Kyle Gallagher joined Blow on the All-ODAC first team.
UL’s Nick Foley was a second-team selection and tabbed as the conference’s student-athlete of the year. The Hornets also had Bhayle Kearns, Carter Averette and Manzi Shalita earn third-team honors.