No. 19 Men's Tennis Travels to Kentucky, Hosts Vanderbilt
March 22, 2012
AUBURN, Ala. - The 19th-ranked Auburn men's tennis team jumps back into Southeastern Conference play this week with a split weekend of matches against a pair of Eastern Division foes.
Auburn (13-4, 2-2 SEC) will face No. 7 Kentucky at 3 p.m. CT Friday at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington, Ky., then the Tigers will return home to face No. 41 Vanderbilt at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Yarbrough Tennis Center.
Sunday's home match is the annual "All Auburn, All Orange" promotion for men's tennis. Fans will receive a free pair of Auburn sunglasses while supplies last. Admission is free for all Auburn home tennis matches.
"We went with the open weekend last weekend, so to make it up we have this split weekend," Auburn head coach Eric Shore said. "It's not ideal for anyone, it's a lot of travel and a quick turnaround, but everybody's got to do it, so we're all in the same boat. I thought the guys did a good job last weekend (at UCF), got a little down time, and now it's back to the grind."
The Tigers are in the midst of a three-match winning streak after a pair of 5-2 wins over Arkansas and LSU two weeks ago and a 7-0 sweep over UCF last Friday to give Shore his 300th career coaching victory.
Auburn will again put the 13th-ranked doubles team of senior Alex Stamchev and junior Andreas Mies at the No. 1 spot, where they are undefeated in dual match play this spring. Sophomore Dennis Lengsfeld will look to make his return to action after missing a month with an injury he sustained at the Blue-Gray National Classic, pairing with Lucas Lopasso at the No. 2 doubles spot, and Daniel Cochrane and Lukas Ollert will play at No. 3 doubles.
Mies will carry his No. 26 national ranking into the weekend at the top singles spot, with No. 95 Alex Stamchev playing at No. 2. Cochrane, Lengsfeld, Ollert and Lopasso will round out the Tigers' singles lineup.
Kentucky (16-4, 4-0 SEC) sits atop the SEC standings, tied with fourth-ranked Georgia. The Wildcats have league wins over LSU, Arkansas, South Carolina and Florida. However, Kentucky is looking to rebound from its first home loss of the season, a 4-3 heartbreaker to Baylor on Monday. The Wildcats have six players ranked in the national top 125 in singles, led by No. 5 Eric Quigley, No. 21 Alex Musialek and No. 28 Anthony Rossi.
"(Kentucky) is very deep, they've got almost everybody back off last year's team," Shore said. "We split with them last year. I thought we played two of our better matches in order to get the win and a close loss to them in a second match at the SEC Tournament. They're extremely good. Their number one guy is undefeated in the conference. Their top three guys are extremely good. It's a big opportunity and a big challenge for our top guys, and they have depth like we do. It's going to be tough, and (being) on the road makes it that much harder."
Last year, the Tigers split two matches with Kentucky, defeating the Wildcats 4-1 in a regular-season match at Auburn but dropping a tough 4-3 decision in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.
Vanderbilt (6-8, 1-3 SEC) earned its first SEC win last weekend with a 4-3 triumph over South Carolina. The Commodores have dropped decisions earlier this year to Florida, LSU and Arkansas. Vandy has the nation's No. 47 ranked singles player in senior Charlie Jones, and the doubles team of Gonzales Austin and Alex DiValerio is ranked No. 45 in the nation.
"You try to teach guys that an SEC weekend is two matches, and you've got to look at the whole picture," Shore said. "It's nice to be at home. Vandy is a young team, they graduated some guys, and their number one guy has been out all year. They are always a challenge for us. Hopefully it won't rain, and we can play outside on Sunday. But it will be tough to come back fresh on Sunday."
Auburn defeated Vanderbilt 4-3 in the teams' lone meeting last year in Nashville.
Live scoring for Friday's match is available through UKAthletics.com, and Sunday's match will have live scoring through AuburnTigers.com.
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