Having played just twice since the end of January, the Elon University men’s tennis team is looking forward to finally getting back on the court.

The Phoenix has had one match canceled, and has only managed to face the University of North Carolina at Asheville and Division III opponent Greensboro College.

“We’ve had a rough couple of weeks with the snow and the weather so we haven’t had the chance to play outdoors much,” junior Stefan Fortmann said.UNCW MTEN

For the weekend of Feb. 21-22, the Phoenix will be traveling to Wilmington, N.C., to take on the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and East Tennessee State University.

“Some of our matches have been shifted around which isn’t ideal, but we’re looking forward to playing two very tough teams this weekend,” Fortmann said.

UNC Wilmington will be a future Colonial Athletic Association opponent when Elon makes the switch in conferences this summer.

“That’s why we played them, honestly, because we knew we were going into their conference,” said Elon head coach Michael Leonard.

The Seahawks are sitting pretty ranked 51st nationally in the most recent ITA rankings, just three spots behind Elon.  UNCW has not only shown their dominance on the national level, but also in the CAA. The Seahawks have won three out of the last five CAA tournaments.

“They’re the team to beat, and we’ve had some tough matches in the past, so we’ll start to develop a little rivalry there,” Leonard said.

Fortmann admits that the team is excited to test itself against the best from their future conference.  “There’s a bit a stake…They’re one of the top teams in the conference we hope to get in there, match them, and gain the same status they have in the conference. It’s definitely going to add more to the match.”

MTEN ETSUEast Tennessee State is a former Southern Conference rivals for the Phoenix, but left to join the Atlantic Sun.  But with the school reinstating football, the Bucs will be returning to the SoCon in 2014.

ETSU won three SoCon championships in four years between 2002 and 2005, and will be looking to continue their strong form against SoCon opposition this weekend.

“They have history with the Southern Conference, it’s nothing new for them,” Leonard said.

As much as the Phoenix would like to add two more ranked victories to their resume, the team is focused on using this weekend as a measuring stick for progress.

“I think (this weekend) will be a good indication of where our team is. We’re looking forward to it.  It’s going to be a task,” Leonard said.  “These are two top mid-major teams that are normally in the rankings year in and year out. It should be very competitive this whole weekend.”

After returning from Wilmington, the Phoenix will take on Brown University Friday, Feb. 28 at the Piedmont Indoors Tennis Center in Greensboro before kicking off its conference slate with a three-game home stand against the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Samford University, and Davidson College.


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