ELON, N.C. – After six matches away from the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center to open the 2017 men’s tennis season, Elon University will welcome Liberty on Wednesday, Feb. 8, for a 2 p.m. match. The match is the first of four in a row at home for the Phoenix.
LAST TIME OUT
Elon closed its six-match road swing with two matches in Virginia over the weekend. First, the Phoenix fell 4-3 to VCU in a match that came down to the final singles match on court. Elon then went on to drop a 5-2 decision at Old Dominion.
All-time, Elon has won six of eight matches against Liberty and took last year’s match over the Flames 4-2 in Virginia with Felipe Sarrasague, Robert Lindgren and Salvador Mijares each earning singles wins after the Phoenix cruised to the doubles point. Last year’s meeting marked the first between the two teams since the 2007 season.
Having played just three matches this season, Liberty is 2-1 in the early going. Both wins came on Jan. 28 in a doubleheader against King and Bluefield State, both Division II programs. Last time out against James Madison, Liberty dropped a 4-3 match in Lynchburg, Va. Wednesday’s match marks the first road match of the year for the Flames.
ANOTHER LOOK AT 2016
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.
BRINGING BACK TALENT
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.
HEAD COACH MICHAEL LEONARD
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.
NEXT TIME OUT
Continuing the four-match homestand, Elon will host William & Mary on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 1 p.m. It continues the team’s run of six consecutive matches against teams from the state of Virginia.