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Men's tennis serves up a worst to first season

Women's team not as successful, finishes the season near the bottom of the conference

Brian Giuffra / Reporter

The men's tennis team capped an outstanding regular season with a 7-0 victory over Longwood on Friday. The team improved to 18-4 and is ready for the Southern Conference Tournament, which begins today in Charleston, S.C.

 Elon received the top seed in the tournament after winning a share of the regular season title with Furman.  Both teams have a record of 8-1 in conference play but Elon beat Furman in the regular season so it holds the top seed.

Elon has a bye in the first round and won't play its first match until Friday.  The Phoenix are on an eight game winning streak and go into the tournament as one of the favorites to win.

Elon coach Michael Leonard said it's nice to have a No. 1 seed because it puts the team in the best position to win.  He also said the team can't look past any of the other teams in the tournament or it may suffer an early let down.

"We have to take it one point at a time," Leonard said.  "We have to play hard in our first match because if we lose we're out."

Leonard said the team is working hard and staying fit in preparation for the tournament.  He said the tournament is very physically demanding and becomes an endurance test.

Captain Sebastian Bredberg has tournament experience and will have to lead this close knit team into the tournament, something he doesn't shy away from.

"I try to lead by example," Bredberg said.  "I try to help outside of the court with school or conditioning.  We all want each other to do well."

Junior Austin Fenn said he also helps the other players off the court, but his experience on the court may be the most important thing for Elon.

"Being around last year helped me learn what it takes to win matches,"

Fenn said.  "I make sure I do everything I can in my match, then I go and try to help out with my teammate's matches."

The fact that the team is so close will help Elon, as it tries to make it into the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.

The team has made a complete turn around from last year, when it didn't win one conference game.  The players go into the tournament confident, but they also realize they can't look ahead and have to play hard in every match.

The women's tennis team ended the regular season with a victory over Longwood on Friday. The team is excited for the conference tournament and the seniors want to go out with a bang.

The team is led by seniors Kelly Fleck, Melissa Holland and Elizabeth Kernodle.  They have led the ever-improving team to an 8-12 record and hope to finish their careers in winning fashion.

Coach Elizabeth Perry said the team is working on fine tuning their games to maximize their potential for the tournament.

"We look to peak at the conference tournament," Perry said. "We are excited for the tournament and the seniors are really pumped up."

The team is excited, having won its last match on senior day at the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center.  Perry said sending the seniors off with a home win was nice because of all the things they have done for the program.

"The seniors have and continue to do a lot of things for us," Perry said.  "They help the younger girls be good leaders.  They want each person to do well and they want the team to do well."

Their leadership will play a big role in how Elon does in the conference tournament.  The team opens up tournament play today against Chattanooga and will have to endure four matches if they hope to be conference champions.

This may be a hard task, but the team has experience in the tournament and they hope to use that to their advantage.  They have won two of their last three matches and go into the tournament at the best time.

Coach Perry said that the teams' work ethic and desire have led them to where they are now.

"The girls have gone after it with a lot of determination," Perry said. "They have worked really hard and are excited for the tournament."

Contact Brian Giuffra at pendulum@elon.edu or 278-7247.

Christine Walton / Photographer

Freshman Gustaf Asplund and the men's tennis team achieved a No. 1 seed in the tournament.

Christine Walton / Photographer

Women's tennis finished the regular season in ninth place and will play Chattanooga today.