Men’s tennis opens season with losses

The men’s tennis team is fighting the odds with a squad of five freshmen, two sophomores, one junior and one senior. But the youth of the players is not keeping the Phoenix from aiming high.

“The bad news is we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said head coach Michael Leonard. “But the good news is these are some really great guys who have seen a good a amount of improvement.  I do think we have a lot of potential.”

Senior Eric Turner said noticed this potential as well.

“We’re already playing well now and getting better every day,” he said. “I think we’re going to have a good team. We have a young team but we’re getting better with every match.”

Despite this faith in new players, the Phoenix fell 6-1 to Wake Forest on Saturday. Turner, who said earlier he was going into the match with confidence, was forced to retire during his second set due to injury, while sophomore Cameron Silverman earned Elon’s solitary point in the top singles match.

This loss to Wake Forest was not all bad, according to Leonard.

“They’ll tell us a lot about our team, whether we win or lose,” Leonard said. “We want to learn about our team by playing other good teams.”

The lessons continued in another defeat, this time at the hands of No. 70 Princeton University Feb. 12. The Phoenix lost 5-1, the lone point coming from freshman Stefan Fortmann’s three-set victory over sophomore Augie Bloom.

Understanding the varying strengths and weaknesses of such a young team is a priority for the Phoenix.

“Some have seen big improvement, in that sense it’s really exciting to see where we’ll go,” Leonard said. “I think if some of our guys down low step up, we can really compete.”

They will have the chance soon enough. The Phoenix take on Gardner-Webb at home on Saturday, followed by three more matches before beginning Southern Conference play March 3.

“We have a tough non-conference lineup, but it’s getting us ready,” Turner said. “We definitely think we can win another conference championship.”

With conference play in the near future, the team is looking to keep a level head.

“We don’t know if a team is good based on their rankings,” Turner said. “We sometimes try and look to scouts, but we don’t spend a lot of time looking at wins and losses.”

According to Turner, focusing on the success of the competition does not truly help the team prepare for upcoming matches.

However they do it, the players are gearing up for upcoming matches. Win or lose, competing against successful schools challenges the team to determine its potential.

“If we’re competing with those teams, we’re really three-quarters of a measuring stick of knowing where we are, where we stand,” Leonard said.

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