Jan. 3, 2012
AUBURN - The Auburn men's tennis team will enter the 2012 dual match season ranked No. 21 in the nation as the season's first Intercollegiate Tennis Association national rankings were released Tuesday.
"That's a good starting point for us," Auburn head coach Eric Shore said. "We lost a top player last year in Tim Puetz, and we also lost Tim Hewitt, who also contributed, so some guys are going to have to step up. I feel like they gained some experience last year and were successful, so hopefully that can continue this spring."
The Tigers also have two individuals ranked in the initial national rankings. Junior Andreas Mies, coming off a stellar fall season, will open the spring ranked No. 18 in the nation, the highest mark of his career. He was ranked No. 70 nationally in the preseason ratings before posting a 12-3 record in the fall that included three victories over nationally-ranked players to capture the singles title at the USTA/ITA Southern Regional.
Mies also found his way into the national doubles rankings along with senior Alex Stamchev. The Tiger duo will begin the spring season ranked No. 6 in the nation after going 4-1 in fall action; their only defeat came at the hands of the nation's No. 1-ranked doubles pairing.
"Obviously, Andy had a good fall, but he's got to step up and continue that in the spring," Shore said. "He's definitely put himself in a good position to do that. The individual rankings don't mean a whole lot at this point; you have to prove yourself during the spring. Hopefully we can do that."
Also released Tuesday were the ITA Regional Rankings. Mies enters the season ranked No. 1 in the South Region, while Mies and Stamchev are the region's top-ranked doubles pairing. Junior Lucas Lopasso is ranked No. 17 in the region, and sophomore Daniel Cochrane comes in at No. 20. The doubles pairing of Stamchev and Cochrane is ranked No. 7 in the region, and the team of junior Michael Wardell and sophomore Rafael Rondino is ranked 10th.
The Southeastern Conference saw 10 of 12 teams find their way into the season's initial rankings. Leading the way are No. 4 Georgia, No. 7 Kentucky and No. 8 Florida, followed by No. 13 Tennessee, No. 16 Mississippi State, and the Tigers at No. 21. Other ranked league teams include Ole Miss (24), LSU (33), Vanderbilt (37) and Alabama (51). Future league member Texas A&M is ranked 11th nationally; Missouri, the soon-to-be 14th member of the SEC, does not compete in men's tennis.
Auburn opens its 2012 spring season on Saturday, Jan. 21, by hosting in-state rival Troy at the Yarbrough Tennis Center. The match is set for a 1 p.m. start, and admission is free.