Campbell seeded 2nd in Big South men’s tennis championship; faces Liberty Thursday

David Clavera (Courtesy of Bennett Scarborough)
David Clavera (Courtesy of Bennett Scarborough)

ROCK HILL, S.C. – Seeded second in the Big South Conference men's tennis championship, Campbell University opens quarterfinal round play Thursday in a 12:30 p.m. match vs. seventh-seeded Liberty.

Coach David Johnson's Camels (13-6) secured the second seed with a 6-2 league record that included a 4-3 victory over the Flames on Apr. 3 at Lynchburg, Va.  Liberty (11-10) finished conference action with a 3-5 record.

The Camels enter Thursday's contest winners in 10 of their last 12 dual matches.  Of CU's 19 contests this year, nine were decided by one point and the Camels won five of those close decisions.  CU was 3-2 vs. Big South foes in 4-3 decisions, including wns over Winthrop and Radford in addition to Liberty.

"We have three seniors (Josep Baro, David Clavera and Ondrej Kralik) with experience who have formed a foundation that has a lot to do with our success," said Johnson, who is in his 15th season in charge of the program.  "This is as close knit a group as I've had here and we've gotten  a lot of mileage out of that unity."

CU is led by junior Fernando Guillen, who owns a 22-8 overall record (14-4 in dual matches) and was 7-1 at the top singles position against Big South opposition.  The native of San Louis Potosi, Mexico suffered only one loss in league action – at Presbyterian vs. Grayson Mills – and last week dealt East Carolina's top singles player, Joran Vliegen, his first loss of the spring season after 17-straight wins.

Seniors Josep Baro and David Clavera, both of whom hail from Barcelona, Spain, combined to go 8-4 at the second doubles slot, while providing strong play in the middle of the singles ladder. 

Baro enters the Big South tournament with nine victories in his last 10 outings and posted a 12-3 record at number-five, 7-1 against the Big South.  Clavera compiled an 11-5 record at the fourth singles position and has won 8 of his last 10 matches.

Freshman Rik Van Gerwen went 6-1 against Big South opponents in singles play and combined with Steven Billington to finish 3-0 at number-three doubles in league action.

"While tennis is still both an individual and team sport, we have a nice balance between taking pride in individual accomplishments, but beyond that caring about the collective success of the group," said Johnson.

Two weeks ago at Liberty, Guillen, Billington and Van Gerwen recorded straight-sets singles wins, while Baro won a 3-setter to clinch the victory.

The winner of Thursday's quarterfinal between the Camels and Flames will square off against either third-seeded Presbyterian or sixth seed Gardner-Webb on Friday at 2:00 p.m.  Saturday's championship match is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. start. 

Coastal Carolina (12-5) is the top-seeded school in the event after producing an 8-0 mark in league action.  Campbell's only losses in Big South play came by 4-3 results at Coastal (Mar. 26) and at Presbyterian (Apr. 6).

Big South Men's Tennis Championship (at Rock Hill, S.C.)

Wednesday, April 17 / First Round
MATCH 1: No. 8 UNC Asheville 4, No. 9 Longwood 0

Thursday, April 18 / Quarterfinals
MATCH 2: No. 1 Coastal Carolina vs. No. 8 Asheville (8:00 am)
MATCH 3: No. 4 Winthrop vs. No. 5 Radford (10:00 am)
MATCH 4: No. 2 Campbell vs. No. 7 Liberty (12:30 pm)
MATCH 5: No. 3 Presbyterian vs. No. 6 Gardner-Webb (3:30 pm)

Friday, April 19 / Semifinals
MATCH 6: Winner Match 2 vs. Winner Match 3 (10:00 am)
MATCH 7: Winner Match 4 vs. Winner Match 5 (2:00 pm)

Saturday, April 20 / Championship
Semifinal Winners (1:30 pm)