INDIANAPOLIS – Back in the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2014, Elon University men’s tennis earned a No. 3 seed and will take on No. 2 Georgia in the first round on Friday, May 3, at 1 p.m. in Chapel Hill, N.C.
“It’s exciting to be back in the NCAA Tournament,” said head coach Michael Leonard. “This team and senior class had not made it in the last three years, so there was a big relief for these seniors. For them to get over that hump and win the CAA Championship was great and now you can see them starting to relax. They are actually hitting the ball better now than they were before the conference tournament because of that relief and they’re playing free, which we need. Against teams like Georgia, at that level, we have to play competitive and play free.”
The Phoenix reached the NCAA Tournament by way of winning its first Colonial Athletic Association Tournament championship on Saturday, April 20, with a 4-3 victory over the top-seeded UNCW Seahawks. With its three wins in the CAA Championships, Elon enters the NCAA Tournament on a 10-match winning streak.
Prior to this season, Elon had made NCAA Tournament appearances on two occasions. In its most recent appearance, Phoenix fell to the Tennessee Volunteers 4-1 on May 10, 2014. During its first trip, Elon lost 4-0 to the Clemson Tigers on May 11, 2007.
This season, Elon matched its second-best single-season win total under Leonard going 21-4 overall. The Phoenix is led by Felipe Sarrasague, who is ranked No. 102 nationally in the latest men’s singles rankings by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. The senior has posted a 15-5 record at the No. 1 position this season and also individually has a team-best 14 doubles wins this season. Kyle Frankel was selected as the Most Outstanding Player at the CAA Championships by the league’s head coaches and leads the team with a 21-3 mark in singles action this season. His 21 dual match singles wins are the most in a single season in program history.
Entering the tournament, Sarrasague has 59 dual match singles wins in his career at Elon, which currently ranks tied for fourth all-time. The senior could be in line for a bid to the 64-player singles tournament, which will be announced tomorrow, April 30, at 6 p.m. on NCAA.com.
Since joining Division I in 2000, Elon has never played Georgia. The Bulldogs, ranked No. 18 in the country, enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed in the regional pod hosted by top-seeded North Carolina. Navy is the No. 4 seed in the regional, taking on the Tar Heels at 4 p.m. following the Elon/Georgia match. Georgia went 13-10 this season and fell to 10th-ranked Tennessee in the quarterfinals of the SEC Championships.
“I know we are excited, I know the guys are pumped, and we’re thrilled to be playing locally so we can hopefully get a lot of fans out to our match,” continued Leonard. “Being right down the street at UNC is a blessing for our team. Hopefully we can get a good group of fans to come watch because momentum is everything and we’ve got to get some momentum. Having people there to support us can definitely help us and we definitely need that.”
With a victory, Elon will move on to face the winner of the North Carolina/Navy match on Saturday, May 4, at 4 p.m. in Chapel Hill. Elon has not faced North Carolina since 2006 and trails 2-0 all-time against the Tar Heels. The Phoenix last faced Navy on March 11, 2018 and defeated the Midshipmen 6-0 at the Piedmont Indoor Tennis Center in Greensboro.