Elon reaches third straight CAA championship game, Leonard earns 300th win

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – For the third consecutive season, the Elon University men’s tennis team advanced to the CAA championship match as the Phoenix defeated No. 2 seed and nationally ranked Delaware in the tournament semifinals on Saturday at the Mackesy Tennis Center.

BOX SCORE (PDF)



Veljko Krstic saved a match point and then won in a third-set tiebreaker at No. 1 singles to earn Elon’s victory. The triumph was also the 300e in the legendary career of head coach Michael Leonardwho will retire at the end of Elon’s season.


With the win, Elon improved to 16-7 on the season. Delaware, the No. 71-ranked team in the current ITA rankings, finishes its season 16-4.



THE REPORT

  • For the second day in a row, Elon won the final doubles match and finished to secure an all-important lead.
  • Just like they did in Friday’s quarterfinal against Campbell, Dylan Hope And Veljko Krstic jumped out to an early break lead and never looked back, winning 6-2 at the No. 2 spot. It was their fifth win in a row and their sixth of the season.
  • The Blue Hens evened the doubles with a 7-5 victory on Court 1.
  • Oskar Antinheimo And Jack Curtis secured doubles for the maroon and gold with a 6-3 third-place victory. There were 14 of theme win of the season and their third against a conference opponent.
  • This was Elon’s fourth consecutive doubles point and ninth in the last ten matches.
  • Curtis started the singles with a 6-4, 6-1 victory on Court 5 against Delaware’s Udayan Bhakar. It was the freshmen’s 16the victory of the season and the 12e to get into two sets.
  • A night after a crucial three-set victory against Campbell, Juan Sengariz came through again for the Phoenix on Saturday, beating Tobey Lock 6-3, 7-5 on Court 4 to put Elon ahead 3-0. Sengariz trailed 3-0 in the second set but stormed back to win seven of the next nine matches, securing a crucial point for the team. He tied Curtis for the team lead with 16 singles wins, 10 of which came in fourth position.
  • Delaware earned its first point of the day with a narrow win at No. 6 singles.
  • The last three remaining matches all went to final sets. Antinheimo and Krstic both forced the final sets after losing their first Daniel Martin lost his second after winning the first.
  • Playing No. 1 singles, Krstic won the second set 6–2 after dropping the first against Karol Malirz. The sophomore quickly took a 2-0 lead in the final frame, but conceded the break in the third game. Malirz broke Krstic again later in the set and took the lead 5-4. The game after the substitution reached a deuce point, which was also a match point for the Blue Hens. Krstic won the point to stay alive and extend the set.
  • Krstic held serve in the next game for 6-5, but Malirz took the set into a decisive tiebreak. Krstic sprinted out to a 6-2 lead before Malirz himself saved a match point to make it 6-3. However, Krstic answered back and converted his second match point to secure a 4-1 Elon victory.
  • The win was Krstic’s 12e of the season and the third following the opening set drop. The sophomore has now won eight games at the No. 1 spot.
  • This was the second day in a row that Elon’s decisive point came in a match where the Phoenix saved a match point. Antinheimo saved two match points in Friday night’s victory over Campbell.
  • While Krstic played his two match points, Martin himself reached match point on Court 2 against Nikolaj Talimaa. Martin won his first set in a tiebreak, but dropped the second set. However, he took a 5-2 lead and worked the eighth game at the same time on deuce as Krstic took the win.
  • Antinheimo was also within reach of a third-place win against Javier Ruiz when his match was stopped. Antinheimo won the second set after dropping the first and was tied at 5-5 when Krstic took the win.
  • This is the second straight season that Elon has defeated Delaware at the CAA tournament. The Phoenix eliminated the Blue Hens in the quarterfinals last year in a game played indoors at William & Mary.
  • This was Elon’s second win against an ITA-ranked opponent this season. Both victories came at the Mackesy Tennis Center, as the Phoenix defeated No. 68 William & Mary at the facility on March 25.
  • The win secured Elon’s third consecutive berth in the CAA championship game. This is Elon’s fourth ever trip to the finals.
  • The win was the 300e from head coach Michael Leonard‘s career and the 14e to participate in the CAA tournament.

NEXT ONE

  • For the third straight season, Elon will face UNCW in the championship match. The match is currently scheduled for a 2:00 PM start at the Mackesy Tennis Center.
  • The Seahawks are the three-time defending conference champions, beating the Phoenix 4-2 in 2022 at Elon and 4-1 a year ago in Williamsburg for two of those titles.
  • UNCW is the tournament’s No. 1 seed and currently sits at No. 52 in the ITA rankings.
  • The Seahawks have yet to surrender a point in this year’s CAA tournament, as they defeated No. 8 College of Charleston in the quarterfinals on Friday and No. 5 William & Mary on Saturday.
  • UNCW enters Sunday’s title game with a 16-5 record this season. They are 6-0 against CAA opponents this season and have impressive non-conference wins against Liberty, Old Dominion and Georgia State, along with narrow 4-3 losses to LSU and Georgia Tech.
  • The Seahawks are 65-28 in completed singles matches on the season. They have a winning record in all six positions.
  • Five Seahawks have double-digit singles wins this season, led by Gabe Hurtado with 13.
  • UNCW is 32-21 in doubles on the season. Twenty-seven of those wins have come from the teams of Harold Huens and Reece Falck (15) and Hurtado and Trey Mallory (12).
  • The Seahawks are led by head coach Mait DuBois.

RESULTS
Singles

1. Veljko Krstic (Elon) for sure. Karol Malirz (Delaware) 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (3)
2. Daniel Martin (Elon) vs. Nikolaj Talimaa (Delaware) 7-6 (2), 3-6, 5-2, unfinished
3. Oskar Antinheimo (Elon) vs. Javier Ruiz (Delaware) 1-6, 6-4, 5-5, unfinished
4. Juan Sengariz (Elon) for sure. Tobey Lock (Delaware) 6-3, 7-5
5. Jack Curtis (Elon) for sure. Udayan Bhakar (Delaware) 6-4, 6-1
6. Alexandre Gluck (Delaware) def. Dylan Hope (Elon) 7-6 (3), 6-3

Double

1. Karol Malirz/Javier Ruiz (Delaware) def. Juan Sengariz/Ben Zipay (Elon) 7-5
2. Dylan Hope/Veljko Krstic (Elon) for sure. Tobey Lock/Euan Mackenzie (Delaware) 6-2
3. Oskar Antinheimo/Jack Curtis (Elon) for sure. Udayan Bhakar/Alexandre Gluck (Delaware) 6-3

Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (5,4,6,1)


–ELON–