Lehigh Mountain Hawks Sibel Can, left, and Zack Elliot return the ball. Both Can and Elliot were named honorable mentions in the Patriot League Team of the Week. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Zack Elliott and Sibel Can stand out as No. 1’s for Lehigh tennis teams

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Sophomore Zack Elliott and senior Sibel Can excel on the men’s and women’s tennis teams, respectively, with Patriot League recognition.

Men’s tennis

Elliott was recognized as Patriot League Player of the Week for the week ending Sunday, Feb. 9, and again this week. This announcement reflects his match successes, as he is currently 4-1 in singles play this season. 

Elliott’s victories go beyond singles, however. Playing alongside junior partner Harry Wang in Lehigh’s top doubles spot, the pair has also produced a record of 4-1 thus far. 

“Establishing a good culture with a strong work ethic has been important, as it is a young team that came in ready to learn,” Elliott said. 

He said he hopes that this mentality will guide the team to a Patriot League Championship title.

Elliott’s outlook echoes the team’s vision of encompassing toughness, integrity, competitiveness, a team-first approach and self-awareness, head coach Wouter Hendrix said. 

Hendrix said he found that adherence to these five pillars, in combination with further efforts to extend rallying, will contribute to the team’s success this season. 

“(Elliott) has definitely been playing really well, and it’s especially exciting because he is a sophomore with his best tennis still ahead of him,” Hendrix said.

Reflecting on his matches this season, Elliott said he and his teammates are using their recent loss to Drexel to prepare for future competition.

“Losing is always a challenge, but we are trying to use that loss as an opportunity to learn and motivate ourselves to not be put in that position again,” Elliott said.

In addition to the team’s goal of winning a Patriot League Championship, Elliott said it would be great to secure a victory against Navy or Army West Point the teams that took home first and second last season.  

As the season progresses, Elliott said he hopes to focus on playing more aggressively out on the court and to serve as a positive influence on his teammates. 

Women’s tennis

As a Patriot League Player of the Week Honorable Mention, Can’s leadership contributed to the team’s success this season, with a record of 4-2.

Can is 3-3 in singles so far and, along with junior partner Paula Gonzalez, is 3-1 in doubles play. The pair concluded with unfinished matches in recent competitions against Villanova and Stony Brook.

Can said receiving Patriot League recognition was exciting, but it was also reassuring to know that she is competing well at the high level of collegiate play.

Assistant coach Hannah Fleckenstein said she has enjoyed getting to know hard-working athletes like Can, as she adjusts to her new position at Lehigh only weeks before the start of the season. 

“Every day, the girls come to practice ready to balance having fun and working hard,” Fleckenstein said. “I hope that is something they take with them, no matter where they go in life.”

As she takes part in her final season playing for the Mountain Hawks, Can said she wants to enjoy the competition and spend her remaining time alongside her teammates.

She said she is grateful that continuous contact with the program still exists after graduating from Lehigh. 

“It’s great that you’re never really gone from the program,” Can said. “With the family-like atmosphere of it, your legacy can live on.”

The women’s and men’s teams both play Duquesne on Feb. 22 at Lewis Indoor Tennis Center, with the women playing at 1 p.m. and the men playing at 5 p.m.

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