DURHAM — The Elon University men’s tennis team’s season came to an end on Saturday, May 10, with a 4-1 loss to the University of Tennessee in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
“The players competed hard, they battled,” Elon head coach Michael Leonard. “We were right there at the end of the match.”
Junior Jordan Kaufman was the only winner for the Phoenix on the day, which highlighted a late rally from Elon.
“If we could have gotten this match to go the distance, anything was possible,” Kaufman said.
Kaufman dropped the first set to junior Andrew Dromsky, but came back to win the match at No. 5 singles 2-6, 6-2, 6-4. Kaufman became the first player in program history to win a match in the NCAA tournament.
“It’s something I’m always going to remember, just glad to be a part of it,” Kaufman said.
Elon got off to a rocky start dropping the doubles point. Senior Jarryd Chaplin and Dromsky defeated sophomore Robert Lindgren and junior Brian Kowalski at No. 2 doubles 8-3.
Soon after, junior Brandon Fickey and sophomore Bartosz Sawicki clinched the doubles point with an 8-5 win over juniors Stefan Fortmann and Juan Madrid at No. 3 doubles. It was Madrid and Fortmann’s second loss of the season as a doubles partnership after winning 13 straight.
The Vols took a 2-0 lead early in singles play. Fortmann, who was battling an illness, lost to Mikelis Libietis in straight sets 6-1, 6-0. The loss ended Fortmann’s 14 match winning streak in singles play.
“We didn’t have the same Stefan we normally have,” senior Cameron Silverman said. “That was really tough because he’s one of our best (players).”
Tennessee then extended its lead to 3-0 thanks to Chaplin’s win at No. 3 singles. The senior eased past Lindgren in straight sets 6-3, 6-2.
After Kaufman’s win, Kowalski had a chance to extend the match by winning his second set at No. 4 singles. But despite having a set point, Kowalski fell in a tiebreaker and lost the match 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).
With the win Tennessee improves to 18-10 on the year, and will face the winner of Winthrop University and Duke University tomorrow. Elon finished its season with a 19-5 record, including a perfect 9-0 in Southern Conference Play.