The Elon University men’s tennis team’s 12-game winning streak came to an end on senior day, as the Phoenix fell to East Carolina University 4-1 at the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center.
“We need to get tested sometimes,” junior Stefan Fortmann said. “It gets the guys’ attention.”
East Carolina took the early lead by capturing the doubles point. Elon junior Brian Kowalski and sophomore Robert Lindgren opened up doubles play with an 8-5 win at No. 2 doubles over freshman Fredric Lehfeldt senior and senior Mario Martinez. But the Pirates came roaring back to win the doubles portion of the match.
First, junior Juan Madrid and Fortmann fell at No. 3 doubles to juniors Nicolas Soriano and Petriek Wolterbeek 8-6. Then, senior Joran Vliegen and sophomore Colin Roller battled back to defeat Elon’s senior Cameron Silverman and junior Jordan Kaufman at No. 1 singles.
The Phoenix dropped its first singles of the match. Kowalski was forced to retire, trailing 5-4 to Soriano. The junior fell to the court, but after receiving treatment tried to battle through. But Kowalski was unable to continue much longer and was forced to end his day prematurely.
Fortmann put Elon on the board with a win at No 2 singles. The South African native cruised past Martinez in straight sets 6-3, 6-1.
“I really just tried to come out and play the way I have been playing because it’s been working,” Fortmann said. “I felt like I came out and got the job done.”
The Pirates regained their two-point advantage soon after. Lindgren fell in straight sets to junior Damien Bernard at No. 3 singles 7-5, 6-3.
In a matchup of two of the top mid-major tennis players in the nation, No. 30 Vliegen defeated No. 35 Silverman in three sets 4-6, 6-2, 6-2. It was an unfortunate senior day for Silverman, Elon’s lone senior, in what has been an unblemished career for the Phoenix.
Vliegen’s win clinched the victory for the Pirates.
“We’ve responded really well to losses,” Fortmann said. “We’re going to try and get the boys pumped up and try to bounce back from this.”
With the win, East Carlolina improves to 17-6 on the year. The loss drops Elon 16-4 to close out the regular season.
The Phoenix will head to Chattanooga, Tenn., for the Southern Conference tournament where it will be the No. 1 seed. The team will play at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, April 17 where they will face the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchup.
“Hopefully, we can get into the tournament and find ourselves (again) and get some wins,” Fortmann said.