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Liberty boys tennis season preview: Revival of a program

Wednesday, Apr. 1 | By Jeff Malmgren
Liberty No. 2 singles player Ardit Krasniqi is one of several young standouts on Liberty's roster. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
His goal sounds modest.

Considering history, it's not.

Liberty's first-year boys tennis coach, Corey Jarvis, wants to "come out with a winning record for the season," he said. "From what I'm told, it's been a while since they've had a winning season."

The Eagles, in fact, have gone five seasons without finishing above .500. Worse yet, they failed to win a single dual match in four of those five seasons.

Prior to this spring, Liberty last won as a team at the end of the 2011 season. The Eagles, however, already have two victories this season, and they stand at 2-3 despite a roster devoid of seniors.

"We are a pretty good team, but we're still a pretty young team," Jarvis said. "Long term, it's definitely [a goal] to build fundamentals this year so next year... we're going to be a pretty strong team."

The Eagles last had an impressive squad in 2009, when they went 14-2. They followed that, however, with a 2-61 run.

Liberty also hadn't beaten the cross-county rival Fauquier Falcons since 2009. Until late last month, at least. The Eagles defeated Fauquier, 5-4, March 23 on the road in Warrenton.

"It's definitely a big deal," Jarvis said.

With that dual tied, 3-3, entering doubles play, Liberty’s Zach Frack and Ardit Krasniqi won the No. 1 match over Mike Dooley and Jon Turner, 10-6. Meanwhile, Liberty’s Brandon Higgins and Scott Simpson won the No. 3 match over Ben Nesbit and Marsahisa Takasi, 10-1. Fauquier’s John Synder and Jaron Proehl, won the No. 2 match over Andrew Long and Tyler Green,10-3.

In singles play, Fauquier’s No. 2, Turner, beat Krasniqi, 10-6, while No. 3 Synder defeated Long, 10-2, and No. 4 Proehl topped Green, 10-1.

However, Liberty No. 1 Frack beat Dooley, 10-1, while No. 5 Higgins defeated Nesbit, 10-8, and No. 6 Scott Simpson topped Britton Keith, 10-7.

"They went into the match wanting to come away with the 'W,'" Jarvis said. "Now if we can get them to get that competitive drive [every match], they can be a great team.

"Kettle Run gave us some trouble, and Brentsville's a very fundamentally good team," he said of two of the Eagles' losses. "We have some things to work on."

Frack, a junior, is Liberty's most experienced player in a starting lineup made up of four juniors and two sophomores.

"He's got real skills," Jarvis said. "He moves well, he hits hard and he gets his shot placement in."

Krasniqi, a sophomore, moved up to the No. 2 spot this season after beginning 2014 in the No. 6 spot.

"That's actually been the toughest spot this year," Jarvis said. "A lot of teams, in my opinion, have had a great No. 2 guy.

"Hes' really stepped up and he's really doing the fundamentals," Jarvis said. "He's gonna be a tough senior to beat" in two years.

Higgins, meanwhile, is one of few Eagles new to the varsity team this season. Regardless, the junior earned a significant role as Liberty's No. 5 singles player, and he typically plays No. 2 doubles as well.

"Being his first year, he's really stepped up," Jarvis said. "The matches we have won, he was a key element. … His stroke is coming along and he moves well."

So Jarvis likes to use Higgins and Liberty's No. 6 singles player, Simpson, as the Eagles' No. 2 doubles team, leaving the No. 3 Long and No. 4 Green to play No. 3 doubles.

"Brandon and Scott, they show a lot of aggression at the net," Jarvis said of the No. 2 team. "And in doubles, that's what you need to win matches."

A 2009 high school graduate, Jarvis played tennis at Turner Ashby before serving five years in the Marine Corps, he said. Then Liberty gave him his first opportunity as a tennis coach after the departure of long-time coach Kyle McGlotton.

- - - - -

Starting lineup

SINGLES
1. Zach Frack, Jr.*
2. Ardit Krasniqi, Soph.*
3. Andrew Long, Jr.
4. Tyler Green, Soph.
5. Brandon Higgins, Jr.
6. Scott Simpson, Jr.*

DOUBLES
1 Frack/Krasniqi
2 Higgins/Simpson
3 Long/Green

*Returning starter

- - - - -

Recent records

2015: 2-3
2014: 0-15
2013: 0-12
2012: 0-14
2011: 2-10
2010: 0-10
2009: 14-2

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