The Phoenix had a chance to win a contentious conference matchup down the stretch, as the last two singles matches went to final sets. However, freshman Oskar Antinheimo and senior Nicholas Condos were unable to get the points that Elon needed to prevail.
Tensions were high in the rematch of last year’s Colonial Athletic Association Tournament semifinal. Head coach Michael Leonard said this match was all about momentum.
“It’s just a few shots here where we probably could have taken the momentum away,” Leonard said. “Give them credit. They won those crucial points and got the momentum on their side and kept it at the end.”
Strong winds also played a role in Saturday’s match. Leonard said while the team practiced with the anticipation of heavy wind gusts, nothing could have realistically simulated the conditions until the team stepped on the court for the match.
While the Phoenix came up short, there were at least two bright spots. Junior Ben Zipay’s 6-0, 7-5 victory gave the Phoenix a 2-1 lead early. However, that would be the first and only lead of the afternoon for Elon. Freshman Veljko Krstic also completed a 6-2, 7-5 win to secure the first point for Elon. Krstic’s win at the No. 3 spot today extended his singles match win streak to eight straight. He has not lost a match since Feb. 25. to the No. 35 ranked North Carolina State University Wolfpack.
Krstic’s season began with two losses in his first four appearances. He said he feels he has vastly improved over the course of the season with the help of his coaches and teammates. The freshman said he believes his attitude and in-game mindset have improved significantly throughout the team’s 2023 campaign.
“That fighting spirit even when you're not playing well, you have to find that inner strength to somehow turn the match around,” Krstic said.
The Phoenix fell 11-7 on the season with the loss. Leonard said his goal for the team is to continue to get better and aim to be in contention for the CAA Tournament April 27 to 30.
“Our team has got to take it to the next level,” Leonard said. “We’re trying to plan on what we need to do individually for each guy. That’s our goal over the next few weeks.”
Krstic said he would like a rematch with the Tribe if the two teams happen to encounter one another during the conference tournament, which William & Mary will host.
“It wasn’t our best day today,” Krstic said. “We know we can do better. Especially at their place, it would be nice to win against them.”
The Phoenix will travel south on Friday to take on the University of North Carolina at Charlotte 49ers (7-11) at 2 p.m.