LIBERTY — Liberty North junior tennis player Jack Brown remembers how it felt when his team got swept by Liberty in the district finals last season. His opponent Cameron Duello didn’t make it easy for Brown to forget.
“I lost to a friend of mine, which might have made it even harder for me because he didn’t let me hear the end of it,” Brown said.
It also wasn’t the first time that happened. The Blue Jays swept the Eagles in the district finals each of the past three seasons.
But with Liberty North returning five of six varsity players just as six Liberty players graduated, Brown and his teammates entered this season with confidence they could end that streak.
“We haven’t beaten them in years, but I truly felt like this was our year,” Brown said. “It was going to be a great match. I think it was going to be a great atmosphere.”
The Eagles finished last year with their best winning percentage in school history as they went 12-2 with losses only coming at the hands of the Blue Jays.
“We had a young team last year,” Liberty North head coach Art Smith said. “We weren’t really sure how they would do match in and match out. They did a really, really good job of staying focused and playing competitively.”
With the season currently suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eagles are concerned they won’t get a chance to build on that success.
“I thought this was going to be the best team in Liberty North history,” Brown said. “We have a really strong team that we’ve been building since all of our seniors left after my freshman year.
“I think a lot individuals had a good chance (of making state) this year because we are one of the strongest teams in our district, if not the strongest.”
Senior Cole Hadley said he and his doubles partner, senior Evan Langdon, entered this season with the goal of reaching state after working hard in the offseason.
“I think we were all looking forward to going out there, giving it our all and seeing what we could make happen this season,” Hadley said.