COLUMBIA, S.C. — Elon men’s tennis season got underway with the Phoenix pulling off a 5-2 upset of 56th-ranked South Carolina from the USC Indoor Fieldhouse on Sunday evening. Eric Turner’s thrilling three-set victory at number two singles secured the season-opening win. The decision avenged a loss to South Carolina (1-1) that the Phoenix (1-0) suffered early in the 2010 campaign.
“I am so proud of our guys, especially the upperclassmen,” stated Elon head coach Michael Leonard. “They have worked so hard for a win like this.”
Turner clinched the match during one of only two three-set matches in the contest. After coming up just short in the first set (5-7) against South Carolina’s Nick Jones, Turner rallied to take the next two sets 6-1, 6-4 to clinch the Phoenix’s victory. Elon’s last victory over a nationally-ranked foe came on March 29, 2009 with a 4-3 decision over No. 56 Radford.
“This is the biggest win for the seniors during our time here,” said senior Philip Nemec. “We proved to ourselves that we are going to be tough to beat this year as long as well play to the best of our abilities.”
The two sides battled in three very competitive doubles pairings before Elon claimed the match’s first point with wins at number one and number three. Chase Helpingstine and Nemec, the seventh-ranked doubles team in the region, were the first to finish at number one, defeating the duo of Nick Jones and Ivan Machado by an 8-5 margin – the biggest differential of the three bouts.
The Phoenix clinched the doubles point when the Elon duo of Cameron Silverman and Turner upended South Carolina’s Johannes Pulsfort and Chip Cox 8-6 at number three. At number two, Elon’s Alberto Rojas and Cody Stauffer-MacDowell came up just short, falling 8-9 to Chris Sheehan and Alexander Kostanov.
Elon pushed its advantage to 2-0 as Nemec raced to a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Machado at the number one singles flight.
The Gamecocks picked up their first point at number three singles when Kostanov defeated Elon’s Silverman 6-4, 6-3. The Phoenix then regained a two-point edge as Helpingstine dropped Pulsfort 6-3, 6-3 at number four before Turner sealed the Phoenix victory.
Stauffer-MacDowell made it a 5-1 Phoenix lead after routing South Carolina’s Jake Bowling 6-2, 6-1 at number six singles. The final point of the match came down to number five singles where Elon’s Rojas fell to South Carolina’s Cox 6-4, 5-7, 3-10 to provide the final margin.