CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Coming off its first CAA Championship, Elon University men’s tennis faces the No. 17-ranked Georgia Bulldogs in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships on Friday, May 3, at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center on the campus of North Carolina. The matchup between the Phoenix and the Bulldogs will begin at 1 p.m.
Following Elon’s match at 1 p.m., the host North Carolina Tar Heels will face Navy at 4 p.m. The winner of the two matches will play in the second round of the NCAA Championships on Saturday, May 4, at 4 p.m. at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center.
Tickets are $5 per day for a single session admission, $3 for college students and kids 6-17. An all-session pass is $9 for all age groups. To purchase tickets, you can buy them at the entrance with cash only or you can order them online by clicking here.
ELON IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
This is Elon’s third NCAA Tournament under head coach Michael Leonard as the Phoenix also earned bids in 2014 and 2007. In the two prior appearances, the Phoenix most recently fell to the No. 20-ranked Tennessee Volunteers 4-1 on May 10, 2014. During its first trip, Elon lost 4-0 to the No. 22-ranked Clemson Tigers on May 11, 2007. This is the second time in the team’s three NCAA Tournament appearances that the Phoenix has faced a first-round opponent from the Southeastern Conference.
Elon has never faced Georgia as the Phoenix and Bulldogs will face each other for the first time on Friday. The Bulldogs will be Elon’s first matchup against an SEC foe since facing then No. 20-ranked South Carolina last season on Jan. 20, 2018 in a neutral site match in Davidson, N.C.
The Bulldogs enter the NCAA Tournament ranked 17th by the Intercollegiate Tennis Assciation and have a 13-10 mark this season. Georgia have played three of the top-5 and six of the top-12 teams in the latest ITA rankings. Seven of Georgia’s 10 losses this season have come against teams ranked 12th or higher. The Bulldogs lost to then No. 13 ranked Tennessee in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals. Georgia is making its 41st appearance in the NCAA Championships in 2019 and has had a long and impressive history in the tournament. In 40 total appearances, the team has won six NCAA National Championships (1985, 1987, 1999, 2001, 2007 and 2008). Bulldog head coach Manuel Diaz enters the 2019 NCAA Tournament needing just one win to reach the 700-victory mark for his 31-year head-coaching career. Three Georgia men’s tennis players — Emil Reinberg, Jan Zielinski and Philip Henning — were recognized by league coaches in the annual All-Southeastern Conference postseason awards. All three players received at-large bids to this year’s NCAA singles and doubles championships.
POTENTIAL SECOND ROUND OPPONENTS
In the other first round match, host and No. 10-ranked North Carolina faces Navy on Friday at 4 p.m. If Elon advances past Georgia, the Phoenix will face the winner of that matchup on Saturday at 4 p.m. Elon has not faced North Carolina since 2006 and trails 2-0 all-time against the Tar Heels. The Phoenix is 2-0 all-time against Navy. In its last matchup on March 11, 2018, Elon defeated the Midshipmen 6-0 at the Piedmont Indoor Tennis Center in Greensboro.
Elon claimed its first-ever CAA Championship on Saturday, April 20, when it used a dramatic comeback in the final against top-seed UNCW for the 4-3 victory. The Phoenix opened the tournament with a 4-0 sweep of Hofstra in the quarterfinals and a 4-2 win over William & Mary in the semifinals before defeating UNCW in the championship. Down 3-2 in the championship match and with two singles matches remaining at courts four and five, play was suspended at Elon’s Jimmy Powell Tennis Center due to rain and the remaining matches were concluded indoors at the Piedmont Indoor Tennis Center in Greensboro. Kyle Frankel won his second-set tiebreaker at No. 4 to level the match and Camilo Ponce clinched the title with a three-set victory on court five.
ELON COLLECTS CAA POSTSEASON HONORS
Felipe Sarrasague was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Men’s Tennis Player of the Year for the second-straight year and head coach Michael Leonard earned his seventh-career conference coach of the year award with his second CAA Men’s Tennis Coach of the Year honor. Sarrasague also earned First Team All-CAA Singles accolades for the fourth season in a row and is one of five Phoenix to earn 2019 All-CAA honors. He’s joined on the team by fellow senior Mario Paccini to help Elon tie UNCW for the most on the league’s top squad. Additionally, Kyle Frankel and Felipe Osses-Konig earned Second Team All-CAA singles honors. In doubles, Paccini and Sarrasague paired to earn First Team All-CAA honors, while duo of Frankel and Camilo Ponce earned Second Team All-CAA accolades. Sarrasague became just the 8th player in league history to earn back-to-back CAA Player of the Year honors and just the second Phoenix to accomplish that feat since Cameron Silverman ’14 earned the Southern Conference Player of the Year award in 2013 and 2014.
Elon enters the 2019 NCAA Championships on a 10-match winning streak and a 21-4 record overall following its CAA Championship victory over No. 1 seeded UNCW. Elon finished the year with a perfect 11-0 record at the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center. Elon has now won 15 of its last 16 matches heading into the NCAA tournament. The Phoenix started the 2019 season with a 6-1 record, which included a six-match winning streak from Jan. 18 until Feb. 10. The winning streak included the program’s first win over an ACC program since 2014 after a 5-2 victory at Clemson and a 4-3 victory over Rice.
THE SARRASAGUE SPECIAL
Felipe Sarrasague, winner of the CAA Men’s Tennis Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons, has a 15-5 singles record this spring, which includes two wins over currently ranked opponents. Sarrasague is ranked No. 104 in the country on the latest Oracle ITA National Singles Rankings. Four of his five losses this season were to players who owned a national ranking at some point during the 2018-19 campaign. Sarrasague has also excelled in doubles, posting a 10-2 mark at the No. 1 slot with partner Paccini. He has won 59 career dual singles matches, which currently ranks tied for 4th in program history with Chase Helpingstine ’11. He had won 11 straight matches before falling to Frazier Rengifo of ETSU on Sunday, March 17. It was his first defeat since Elon’s season-opening loss at Duke on Jan. 12. During his career, Sarrasague has won 57 career dual singles matches, which ranks tied for 5th in program history.
RACKING UP CAA WEEKLY HONORS
Elon won a total of six weekly honors this season. Mario Paccini claimed CAA Player of the Week honors on March 26 after Elon’s wins against College of Charleston, USC Upstate and Winthrop. Kyle Frankel was named the CAA Player of the Week while doubles duo of Taylor Foote and Dino Bonetta claimed Doubles Team of the Week honors on Wednesday, March 13. Seniors Felipe Osses-Konig and Felipe Sarrasague have each earned CAA Player of the Week honors this season. Osses-Konig claimed the honor on Wednesday, Jan. 30, for his 4-0 singles record during the opening month of the season. Sarrasague has now earned the honor twice this season with each coming on Feb. 13 and Feb. 27.
Elon is currently 99-34 overall in dual match singles action in 2019 and is continuing where it left off last season. All six players in Elon’s lineup currently have double-digit totals for singles wins this season. Over the past two seasons, the Phoenix is a combined 183-85 in singles play overall. During the 2018 season, Elon went 84-51 during dual-match singles action, winning 68.3 percent of its contests.
This season, Elon returns the 2018 CAA Player of the Year and three-time First Team All-CAA honoree Sarrasague, as well as Second Team All-CAA honoree Mario Paccini. The Phoenix, which finished 16-8 last season, returns an experienced squad that includes five upperclassmen, led by seniors Sarrasague, Paccini, Osses-Konig and Taylor Foote. Junior Jacob Bicknell rounds out Elon’s five upperclassmen. Kyle Frankel and Camilo Ponce are Elon’s lone underclassmen heading into the 2019 season.
Elon University head men’s tennis coach Michael Leonard announced the signing of Dino Bonetta (Rijeka, Croatia) and Maxwell Zucker (Dallas, Texas) for the 2019 season on Saturday, Jan. 5. Bonetta joins the Phoenix program as a transfer from the University of Detroit Mercy. Zucker arrives from Parish Episcopal High School in Dallas, Texas.
With a win on Friday against Georgia, Elon would face the winner of North Carolina/Navy on Saturday, May 4, in the second round of the NCAA Championships. That match is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center.