CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern women's tennis continues Big South play this weekend as the Buccaneers welcome Liberty and Radford to the Buccaneer Tennis Complex on Saturday and Tuesday afternoon. The Bucs take on the Flames on Saturday at noon, while closing out the homestand with a 2 p.m. first serve on Tuesday against the Highlanders.
The Bucs (8-4, 4-1) enter the weekend coming off their first loss in the month of March as CSU struggled on the road this past Monday against Campbell. CSU's six-match winning streak came to an end at the hand of the Camels as Campbell took the doubles point and a trio of singles matches to hold off the Bucs, 4-3.
The loss to the Camels was CSU's first conference defeat of the season. The Bucs topped Longwood (6-1), UNC Asheville (5-2), Presbyterian (4-3), and Gardner-Webb (5-2) during the six-match stretch prior to the Campbell defeat. Among the conference wins included with home victories over Longwood and UNC Asheville.
CSU's 16-match home winning streak will face its strongest test in the 2018 season on Saturday afternoon as the Bucs host the team selected second overall in the Big South preseason poll in the Flames.
CSU's winning stretch began in Liberty's last visit to the Buccaneer Tennis Complex back on April 2, 2016. In the match, the Bucs utilized singles wins by Nicolin Luecke, Sophie Cloessner, and Valeria Koussenkova to top the Flames, 4-3.
Since the streak began the Bucs have added wins over UNC Asheville (twice), Emory (twice), Wofford, S.C. State (twice), Campbell, Gardner-Webb, Appalachian State, Buffalo, Presbyterian, Winthrop, Longwood, Savannah State, and UNC Greensboro. CSU also boasts an impressive 94-33 mark at home over head coach Mike Baker's 13-year career with the Bucs.
The top of CSU's singles lineup has been a major strength for the Bucs paced by the play of seniors Sophie Cloessner and Valeria Koussenkova, as well as junior Filippa Ericson. Cloessner boasts a team-best 8-2 record on court no. 1, including a perfect 5-0 mark in conference play this season. Koussenkova is 6-2 on court no. 2 and 7-3 overall, while Ericson is 7-4, 4-1 in conference action on court no. 3.
Madalina Man (5-4), Kimberley Koerner (5-6), and Yana Morar (2-3) have lined up in the final three singles positions over the last two matches. The trio has provided solid depth and experience for the CSU lineup with each of the three players providing key victories in the Bucs' eight wins on the year.
CSU's doubles lineups have also been particularly effective in the 2018 season with the Bucs combining for a .629 winning percentage on the season. Cloessner/Man are 8-4 on court no. 1, Ericson/Koussenkova are 7-5 on court no. 2, and Koerner/Man are 7-5 on court no. 3 on the year.
Liberty enters the conference weekend with a 7-7 record and 1-0 mark in conference play following their 7-0 win over Campbell on March 15. The Flames have played a challenging slate with losses at No. 10 Wake Forest and tough matchups against Texas A&M, Boston, and Virginia Tech.
The Flames' home-road split has been tough for Liberty in 2018; LU is 6-1 at the Cook Tennis Center, but 0-5 in true road matches from their friendly confines.
Ansley Bongart (15-8) and Maria Medina (13-13) have split time at both the No. 1 and No. 2 positions in dual match play this season. Evangeline Crist (13-8) and Lara Soares (11-10) have also posted double-digit wins this season.
Liberty has utilized multiple doubles combinations over the year with 19 different lineups taking the court this year. The expected doubles lineup on Saturday is Crist/Anna Dollar on court no. 1, Medina/Soares on court no. 1, and Rebekah Anderson/Bongart on court no. 3 following the trio's perfect 3-0 performance against Campbell.
Radford enters the weekend with a winning record at 7-6 on the year and a 1-1 mark in Big South play. The Highlanders will take on Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs, N.C. on Friday afternoon prior to their Tuesday match at CSU.
The Highlanders have won three of their last four matches heading into the conference weekend but suffered their first conference loss at home to Winthrop, 7-0. Radford bounced back with a 6-1 win at Longwood the following week. Due to the location of the Radford University Tennis Complex, the Highlanders have a 4-3 true road mark and have only played one home match.
Lotti Meszaros (15-9), Natalie Sayer (12-11), and Drousile Dzeubou (11-14) all boast double-digit wins in singles play in 2018. The doubles duo of Dzeubou/Meszaros is an impressive 14-2 overall lining up primarily on court no. 2.