Elon Men’s Tennis Travels to Virginia for Matches At VCU, Old Dominion

ELON, N.C. – Elon University men’s tennis will close its six-match road trip to open the season on Saturday, Feb. 4, and Sunday, Feb. 5, with road contests at VCU and Old Dominion. First serve on Saturday against VCU is set for 11 a.m. and Sunday’s first ball at ODU is slated for 1 p.m.

Last Thursday, Jan. 26, Elon traveled to South Carolina to battle former Southern Conference rival Furman and dropped a 5-2 decision to the Paladins. After Elon lost the doubles points, Petar Tomic won at No. 4 singles, 6-2, 6-2, to knot the match at 1-1. With Furman leading 3-1 after two singles wins, Felipe Osses-Konig cut it to 3-2 with a win at No. 5, but the Phoenix fell short in the final two matches on court with losses at Nos. 1 and 3.

All-time, Elon is 1-2 against VCU and 1-3 against Old Dominion. All three meetings against VCU have come since the 2011 season and the Phoenix took last year’s meeting in North Carolina, 4-3. Elon and ODU have met each of the last two seasons with Old Dominion winning 7-0 in 2015 and 4-1 in 2016.

With a 4-1 record early in the season, the team’s only loss came against Elon and VCU’s common opponent – Duke. To date, the Rams have defeated Howard, Morgan State, Temple and George Mason before falling to No. 25 Duke last time out by the score of 6-1. VCU will battle Winthrop on Friday, Feb. 3, before taking on the Phoenix Saturday morning.

The Monarchs are off to a hot start with a 6-1 record. The team’s only loss to date came last time out in ITA Kick Off Weekend to No. 3 Ohio State in Columbus. Prior to falling 4-0 to the Buckeyes, ODU had lost just two points this season and had swept four-straight opponents. Elon’s only common opponent to date with Old Dominion is NC State. The Phoenix fell 7-0 to the Wolfpack on Jan. 22 but ODU topped NC State 6-1 on Jan. 13.

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. Together during the spring season, Port and Mijares are 1-2 with one match unfinished against NC State. New doubles rankings will be released next week.

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.

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. He has won 185 matches to date as the leader of the Phoenix.

Elon will come home for its first matches of the season at the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center with matches against Liberty, William & Mary, James Madison and Longwood. The first home match is set for Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 2 p.m. against the Liberty Flames.