April 20, 2006
Tuscaloosa, Ala. - In the opening round of the 2006 SEC Tournament the No. 41 Auburn men's tennis team was edged out by No. 36 Alabama, 4-1, in front of the Tide's home crowd at the Alabama Tennis Complex Thursday.
The Crimson Tide claimed the doubles point with victories at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots. Mathieu Thibaudeau and Dan Buikema put together an 8-5 win at No. 2 over Auburn's Alex Schweizer and Nick Lane. Javier Bes and Billy Mertz ended the doubles competition with an 8-5 decision over Tigers Robbert Lathouwers and Lukas Marsoun. AU's Terence Nugent and Pawel Dilaj were ahead a game, 5-4, at the third spot before the matched was stopped.
"I have to give Alabama credit because they played very well in the doubles round," Auburn head coach Eric Shore said. "Even though Alabama won the doubles point we felt confident and were prepared to win this match."
Auburn sophomore Pawel Dilaj evened the score at 1-1 with a 6-2, 6-2, victory at No. 6 singles over Alabama's Buikema. The Tide picked up another point from the No. 2 spot after Bes defeated Lathouwers, 7-5, 6-2.
Milan Krnjetin played a close two-set match with Alabama's Thibaudeau at No. 4 singles, but Thibaudeau pulled ahead in both sets to grab Alabama's third point, 6-3, 6-4. AU's Marsoun fought back from a 6-0 first set loss to Mertz, to take the second 7-6. In the third, Mertz proved too strong, taking the win 6-4, to clinch the team victory for Alabama.
"I felt like our team put in the preparation to win this match," Shore noted. "We just fell short today. I think we dug a little hole for ourselves early and we tried to battle our way back in but it just wasn't enough today."
The second day of competition in Tuscaloosa, Ala, will begin at 10 a.m. tomorrow with Arkansas vs. Ole Miss and South Carolina taking on Tennessee. Alabama will face top seed Georgia and Mississippi State meets Kentucky, both at 2 p.m. Live stats are available on the Alabama web site at www.rolltide.com.
The winner of the SEC Tournament will receive the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, set to begin May 12-14. The Tigers will await their fate with the tennis selection show that is scheduled for the first week in May. An exact day and time is yet to be determined.
"Right now we are at the mercy of the NCAA selection committee," Shore noted. "I think we are going to be one of those teams that is on the bubble and I hope that the committee gives Auburn the opportunity to see what a talented team we are."
1. #124 Alex Schweizer (AU) vs. #75 Joseph Jung (UA), DNF
2. Javier Bes (UA) def. Robbert Lathouwers (AU), 7-5, 6-2
3. Nick Lane (AU) vs. Sammy Struyf (UA), DNF
4. Mathieu Thibaudeau (UA) def. Milan Krnjetin (AU), 6-3, 6-4
5. Billy Mertz (UA) def. Lukas Marsoun (AU), 6-0, 6-7, 6-4
6. Pawel Dilaj (AU) def. Dan Buikema, 6-2, 6-2
Order of Finish: 6, 2, 4, 5
1. Javier Bes/Billy Mertz (UA) def. Robbert Lathouwers/Lukas Marsoun (AU), 8-5
2. Mathieu Thibaudeau/Dan Buikema (UA) def. Alex Schweizer/Nick Lane (AU), 8-5
3. Terence Nugent/Pawel Dilaj (AU) vs. Joseph Jung/Andrew Felsenthal, DNF
Order of Finish: 2,1