GREENSBORO – The Elon University men’s tennis team suffered its first loss in March to the Presbyterian College Blue Hose on Sunday afternoon at the Piedmont Indoor Center. The match location was changed from the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center after unexpected rain this morning.
No point came easy against the Blue Hose (10-9, 1-1), as the Phoenix (10-6) would go on to fall 4-2. Only four matches could be played at a time for both teams, so a clinch format was used, meaning the match was stopped when a team reached four points.
“Every match was competitive,” head coach Michael Leonard said. “We're right there. I think this is a match that's going to help us because we hadn't been in one of these in a while.”
Elon was on a five-match winning streak entering today, but the Blue Hose came to town and took care of business. In four of its last five matches entering today, the Phoenix had won with six points or more. Elon’s last loss came to the No. 35 North Carolina State Wolfpack over one month ago.
“I think we needed this to learn from stuff,” Leonard said. “And I think it's going to benefit us, believe it or not.”
Doubles was competitive, but the Phoenix earned one of its two points to earn its sixth straight doubles point. At the No. 1 spot, senior Nicholas Condos and junior Ben Zipay won the first match, 6-3. Junior Daniel Martin and senior Nicholas Campbell lost their match 6-4 at the No. 2 spot. The freshman pairing of Oskar Antinheimo and Veljko Krstic won their match 6-4 to clinch the point for Elon.
Going into singles, the Phoenix hoped the hard-earned doubles point would make a difference mentally. No. 1 seeded Martin fell first, 4-6, 3-6. This is only his second loss in his last eight matches. Krstic won the next point, 6-4, 6-3, but this would be the only other match won on the day for the Phoenix.
The Blue Hose rattled off three straight matches against Campbell, Antinheimo and Zipay. Zipay was in a tight match that didn’t begin until the conclusion of Krstic’s match because only four courts were available. Condos was in a similar spot, and his match went unfinished. Zipay fought to the bitter end but fell 2-5, 5-7, which officially clinched the match for Presbyterian.
“Coming here was the disadvantage for us to begin with,” Zipay said. “We still found a way into the match, but even for me personally, I was injured during our indoor season. So this is my first match indoors in over a year. So I mean, getting caught up is tough when you're in a tight match against a good team.”
Leonard said this match was very similar to what the Colonial Athletic Association tournament feels like.
“We’re going to learn from this one,” Leonard said. “We’re going to have a couple good days of practice and really try to learn from this. This is exactly what college is. This felt exactly like a conference matchup in the [CAA] tournament. You’ve got to win a couple of these to be in a championship.”
The CAA men’s tennis championship will be held in just over a month from Apr. 27-30 at the Mackesy Tennis Center at the College of William & Mary.
The Phoenix will be back at the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center this Thursday hosting a CAA opponent in the University of Delaware Blue Hens at 1 p.m.