May 8, 2009

Courtesy of Auburn Athletics

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - In opening-round action at the NCAA Tournament, the No. 19-ranked Auburn men's tennis team earned a 4-0 win over No. 39 South Florida to advance into the second round for the third-consecutive year.

The Tigers keep their season alive and move to 14-10, while the loss drops the Bulls to 14-9.

"South Florida has a very good team and we knew that going in," Auburn head coach Eric Shore stated. "It was hot. The conditions were tough and South Florida figured that was their environment so we knew we were in for a long battle."

The men started the day in traditional fashion by taking the doubles action by storm. Auburn's top pair of Alexey Tsyrenov and Tim Puetz, currently ranked as the No.10 duo in the nation, jumped out to a quick lead over the No. 46-ranked Lucas Jovita and Thomas Estrada, cruising through the match-up to an 8-1 victory.

Following the court one win, the Tigers grabbed the early point as the No. 78 pair, Lukas Marsoun and Alex Stamchev, topped South Florida's Mahmoud Hamed and Jamal Adderley, 8-6.

"We got off early with one and two doubles and we got a couple breaks, but we played well," said Shore. "We carried that through to get the doubles point, but we knew early in the year that their strengths were singles and they came out fighting."

The court three match-up between Auburn's Milan Krnjetin and Michel Monteiro and South Florida's Wael Kilani and Yannick Yoshizawa went unfinished, although the Bulls had the lead at 6-5.
Going into singles action, the Tigers kept their momentum. Freshman Stamchev gave Auburn its first singles victory of the day, as he defeated Jamal Adderley, 6-3, 6-3. With the win, Stamchev moves to 17-5 in dual play this season. Coach Shore noted that Stamchev has been a consistent factor for the team throughout the year.

"(Stamchev) has done a great job for us all year," Shore mentioned. "He won today on two to put us up 2-0 and he won in doubles. He's been a solid contributor."

Next to finish was Alex Petropoulos, who ended an eight match skid as he topped Thomas Estrada on court six, 6-4, 6-3.

With the Tigers within one point of the win, senior Marsoun stepped up in a second-set tiebreaker to clinch the victory, beating All-Big East selection Mahmoud Hamed, 6-4, 7-6 (4). Marsoun's win gives in a 13-11 record this spring and gave the Tigers a spot in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

"It was 4-0, but you know how close the match was because if we didn't win that second set tiebreaker on three, this match stays out," said Shore. "That breaker was really big to win and make it 4-0. It was huge for us."

With the Tigers taking the sweep decision, Tsyrenov, Puetz and Krnjetin did not finish their match-ups.

"We know that we are going in for a battle against whoever it is tomorrow," Shore noted. "We just got to worry about ourselves and get ready for tomorrow. We are going to play our best match of the year tomorrow and it should be very exciting"

The win lands Auburn in the second round where the Tigers will face No. 16 Florida State. The match is slated to start at 11 a.m. CDT.