April 13, 2009

Courtesy of Auburn Athletics

AUBURN, Ala. - Battling windy conditions on the plains, the No. 27 Auburn men's tennis team (12-8, 5-5 SEC) faced another battle on the courts as they fought back to top No. 10 Florida (15-7, 6-4 SEC), 4-3.

The Tigers took the doubles point early in the match, but faced a 3-1 deficit in singles play only to push through for the 4-3 win. The win was Auburn's first over the Gators since the 2006-07 season.

"I never felt like we were really down that far," head coach Eric Shore noted. "I thought our doubles proved how solid we are and then we came out and competed very well in singles play."

The entire match rested on court six as Milan Krnjetin, hampered by an injured ankle, and Erik Corace took their singles bout into a third-set tiebreaker. With the win up for grabs, Auburn's Krnjetin emerged victoriously, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (3), to give Auburn its first win of the season over a top-10 team.

"I'm very proud of how Milan closed it out on court six," Shore said. "He served a great game and maybe the best tie break that I've seen in a long time with the match on the line. We weren't even sure if he was going to play singles today, but he got ready, felt good to go, and came out and performed very well."

To start the afternoon action, Florida took the first doubles win on court three as Carlos Gonzalez De Cueto and Alex Lacroix topped Auburn's Alex Petropoulos and Michel Monteiro, 8-0.

The Tigers rebounded, however, with Lukas Marsoun and Alex Stamchev defeating Jeff Dadamo and Johnny Hamui, 8-5, on court two.

The point went to the Tigers as Auburn's No. 11 duo of Alexey Tsyrenov and Tim Puetz earned an 8-2 win over the No. 17 pair in the ITA rankings, Antoine Benneteau and Joseph Burkhardt.

To start the second half of play, the Gators erased the early Auburn lead as Dadamo took a 6-3, 6-4 win over Petropoulos on court five.

Finishing next was Burkhardt, who rallied in the third set to find a 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 win over Marsoun. Hamui then put Florida within one point of the win with his 7-5, 7-5 long-fought win over Auburn freshman Stamchev.

Determined to keep the match alive, No. 59 Tsyrenov stepped up for the Tigers as he took a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over No. 28 Lacroix. Next was No. 106 Puetz, who tied the match for Auburn with his 7-6 (5), 6-3 win on court two over Benneteau. Puetz's victory steadied the match at 3-3, setting up Krnjetin's clinching match on court six.

"I thought that we had a good win coming," Shore mentioned. "I could sense it. I'm extremely proud of everybody today."

The win boosts the Tigers to 12-8 overall and an even 5-5 in SEC competition. Florida moves to 15-7 and 6-4 in SEC play.

The Tigers' next match will be their last of the regular season and will serve as Senior Day as the team faces in-state rival No. 15 Alabama at the Yarbrough Tennis Center. The match will begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday, with seniors being honored and several promotions before competition begins.