Elon Men’s Tennis Phoenix Set for Only Doubleheader of 2017 Against Monmouth, NC State

ELON, N.C. – Following a season-opening loss on the road against ACC foe Duke, Elon University men’s tennis continues its six-match road swing to open the season with a doubleheader in Raleigh, N.C., against Monmouth and NC State. First serve against Monmouth is set for 1 p.m. with first ball against the Wolfpack slated for 4:30 p.m. Both matches can be watched live by clicking here.

Elon dropped a 6-1 decision to Duke on Jan. 16. The Phoenix jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the match by winning the doubles point, but Duke took control after that and swept singles play. At No. 2 singles, Mario Paccini took his match against Robert Levine three sets, but ultimately fell 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. Felipe Osses-Konig also put up a solid fight at No. 5 singles against Nick Stachowiak, but dropped a 6-4, 7-6 (5) decision.

Elon has never matched up against Monmouth, but Sunday’s meeting will mark the fifth between the Phoenix and Wolfpack. All-time, NC State holds a 4-0 lead over Elon with all four wins coming in Raleigh. Elon and NC State met a season ago with the 40th-ranked Wolfpack claiming a 5-2 win over the Phoenix on Jan. 17.

The Hawks opened the 2017 season on Jan. 15 with a 6-1 loss to Temple. Monmouth’s only point on the day came with a win at No. 2 singles by Nicola Pipoli, 6-1, 6-2. A season ago, Monmouth went 12-10 and won the MAAC Tournament championship to advance to the NCAA Tournament. In the Big Dance, the Hawks fell 4-0 in the first round to No. 1 Virginia.

Four matches into the season, NC State holds a 3-1 record with two wins over The Citadel and a victory last time out against Troy. The only Wolfpack loss of the year came Jan. 13 in the season opener, a 6-1 loss at home to Old Dominion. Sunday’s match against Elon is part of a nine-match homestand to open the season for NC State.

The Phoenix posted a 17-6 record throughout 2016, which included a 12-3 mark in matches played at the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center. After losing three of the team’s first five matches of the season to No. 13 Duke, No. 40 NC State and No. 1 Virginia, Elon went 14-2 in its final 16 regular-season matches. The run included a seven-match winning streak from March 11 to April 3 and was capped with a win over No. 62 William & Mary. Elon dropped a 4-3 decision in the semifinals of the CAA Tournament to College of Charleston to finish the season.

In the Jan. 4 release of the ITA rankings, Neal Port and Salvador Mijares checked in as the 42nd-ranked doubles duo in the country. The ranking marks the first time either player has been ranked in their respective careers. The two had a stellar showing during the fall season at the ITA Carolina Regionals, earning three victories in a trip to the quarterfinals, which included a win over the nation’s 33rd-ranked duo of Jack Murray and Ronnie Schneider from North Carolina.

Elon returns 2016 CAA Rookie of the Year and Felipe Sarrasague, who was also named a first-team All-CAA honoree. The Phoenix also bring back fellow All-CAA first-teamer Mario Paccini. Seniors Petar Tomic and Chris Humphreys earned a spot on the All-CAA first team in doubles.

True freshmen played a big role in Elon’s 2016 success. Taylor Foote (1), Salvador Mijares (13), Felipe Osses-Konig (6), Mario Paccini (13) and Felipe Sarrasague (15) combined for 48 of the team’s 86 singles wins (56 percent) over the course of 2016. Sarrasague and senior Robert Lindgren led Elon with a team-high 15 dual-match singles wins.

Elon will open the season with six matches away from the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center. After playing Monmouth and NC State, the Phoenix travels to Furman, VCU and Old Dominion. The first home match of the season for Elon is set for Feb. 8 against Liberty and is the first of four in a row at the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center.

Winner of the 2016 CAA Coach of the Year award, Michael Leonard is now in his 13th season as Elon’s director of tennis and head men’s tennis coach. Leonard is a five-time Southern Conference Coach of the Year and has led Elon to five conference championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances to date, the last coming in 2014.