Sometimes scores can be deceiving. For the Elon University women’s tennis team, Saturday’s 4-0 win against a resilient Furman University team in the Southern Conference semifinals was just that.
The Paladins clawed, scrapped and battled, refusing to go down as easily as they did on April 7 in Greenville, S.C., a 5-2 Elon win.
“We knew it was going to be a little bit tougher to beat Furman this time because in the tournament everyone wants to win,” said Elon head coach Elizabeth Anderson. “Obviously, they had a little bit of time to reflect from our last match and I’m sure it motivated them because they wanted to do better.”
The Phoenix struggled in doubles, falling behind early in two of three matches. The duo of juniors Frida Jansaker and Jordan Johnston, who have been relied upon heavily in the No. 1 doubles spot all season, faced a 3-0 deficit early on. That left Jansaker somewhat shell-shocked.
“When we played them in the regular season, me and Jordan won super easy,” Jansaker said. “And then all of a sudden, we’re down 3-0, No. 2 is struggling, No. 3 is up, so were like, ‘We need to get this together’”.
They did, battling back for a 9-7 win giving the Phoenix a 1-0 lead. Senior Berne and freshman Taylor Casey then clinched the doubles point for the Phoenix with an 8-6 victory.
“All of a sudden we got on a roll. We got some lucky games, some crazy points,” Jansaker said. “All of a sudden it’s three-all, then we were down 4-3, then from there we took off. Then No. 3, they clinched it. That was a crazy doubles point.”
The Phoenix then began singles play with all six competitors taking the opening set, seemingly taking control of the match. Furman wouldn’t back down, winning two second sets and hotly contesting the other four.
It was at that point that several Phoenix players appeared frustrated, banging racquets or yelling at themselves after poor shots. Anderson, though, has no problem with her player’s showing emotion.
“All the girls, they just want to win really bad,” Anderson said. “It’s been their major goal of the year to win this tournament and go to the NCAAs, and so I think you see sometimes where they put a little too much pressure on themselves. But it’s all with the right intentions.”
Johnston supplied the Phoenix with their second point of the match, beating the Paladins’ Lauren Kline 7-5, 6-2 in the No. 1 singles position.
Camara Ruiz extended the Phoenix lead to 3-0 with a 6-4, 6-4 win in No. 6 singles, setting the stage for Jansaker. She wasn’t able to put away the first two match points but finally won on the third.
“When I was out there, I hated it because I was so nervous I could barely hit the ball,” Jansaker said. “But once I got it done it was the most amazing feeling. I hope I get this privilege to do it again tomorrow.”
The win moves the Phoenix into the championship game of the SoCon tournament against College of Charleston, the other semifinal winner, at the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center at 10 a.m. Anderson is excited to reach the finals, but knows there’s still work to be done.
"Getting to the finals is awesome. It’s a great feeling,” Anderson said. “We’re excited about it, but we want more. We want to win this thing. It’s been our goal for the year. So I think it’s rewarding to get to this point, but we’re not satisfied. We got a lot of work to do to get ready for tomorrow.”
The Elon University men’s tennis team moved on to the Southern Conference title match after defeating the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga 4-1 on Saturday afternoon. The top-seeded Phoenix claimed the doubles point to take an early 1-0 lead.
Junior Cameron Silverman and sophomore Stefan Fortmann defeated seniors Roberto Vieira and Ankit Chopra 8-5 at No. 1 singles. The sides split the first four games of the contest, but a strong surge from Silverman and Fortmann gave them control of the match as they won three straight games.
Sophomore Brian Kowalski and freshman Robert Lindgren defeated senior Chris Smith and freshman John Peacey at No. 2 doubles to clinch the doubles point for the Phoenix. Lindgren and Kowalski found themselves trailing early in the match being down 3-1, but the pair went on a run of their own winning four straight games to take a 5-3 lead. Despite a late charge by Smith and Peacey, Kowalski and Lindgren came away with the victory by the score of 8-6.
Sophomore Jordan Kaufman gave Elon a 2-0 lead with his straight sets win over Chris Smith. Kaufman set the tone of the match early by winning the first three games. Kaufman continued to roll for the rest of the match and won in a decisive fashion.
Lindgren brought the Phoenix to within a point of victory. The freshman defeated Chopra in straight sets 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) at No.3 singles. Lindgren came storming out of the gate winning the first five games of the match. Chopra put up more of a fight in the second set as the two went into a tiebreaker where Lindgren prevailed as a 8-6 winner.
Fortmann was the lone Phoenix to lose his match. The sophomore was defeated by senior Manuel Barroetavena in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 at No. 2 singles.
Tied at four in the first set, Fortmann dove for a ball and landed on his knee. The stumble drew blood and forced the Elon trainer to tape his leg. Fortmann limped the rest of the match on his way to the loss.
Sophomore Juan Madrid clinched the match for Elon with his win over senior Jackson Tresnan at No. 6 singles. Madrid won the first set convincingly 6-3. However, the sophomore stumbled in the second set losing badly 6-0. However Madrid turned it around to take the deciding third set 6-2.
Elon will play second-seeded Samford University on Sunday for the SoCon championship. The match will start at 2 p.m. and the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center.