May 7, 2009
NCAA First Round Notes
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The No. 19 ranked Auburn men's tennis team is set for opening-round action of the NCAA Tournament, where they will face No. 39 South Florida on Friday.
The Tigers, who finished the season with a 13-10 record, enter the event after a second-round exit at the SEC Tournament with a 4-1 loss against Georgia. Auburn will meet a momentum-filled USF team that summed up its season with its first conference championship in the Big East.
Auburn is familiar with the NCAA Tournament, making its 17th appearance this year, 15 of which have come during the tenure of head coach Eric Shore.
"You have to play well wherever you go, but our guys should be pretty excited about the situation we are in," Shore mentioned.
Leading the charge for the Tigers will be senior Alexey Tsyrenov and sophomore Tim Puetz. The two were selected for the All-SEC Second Team and combine to form the No. 10 duo in the nation, with a dual action mark of 14-4 and a 25-7 overall record.
Individually, Tsyrenov checks in as the 38-ranked singles player, with a 10-10 dual record and an 18-15 mark on the year. Puetz, ranked as the No. 108 singles player in the country, holds the second court with his 14-5 dual claim and is 20-8 this year.
Also providing a boost will be the Auburn newcomer Alex Stamchev, who received All-Freshman Team honors upon finishing his freshman season with a dual record of 16-5 and an overall mark of 30-9. In just his first year on the plains, he has already claimed a spot within the top-10 single-season singles victories list for Auburn.
In doubles action, Stamchev and senior Lukas Marsoun create the No. 78 pair and have given the Tigers a strong hold on court two this season. In the SEC Tournament, the two held the front court and topped the No. 4 duo of Jamie Hunt and Nate Schnugg, 8-6.
Auburn's last action came in the SEC Tournament, where they began the event with a 4-1 win over then-No. 63 Mississippi State. After stealing the doubles point, the Tigers found wins on the front-three courts for a second-round berth against No. 4 Georgia. Auburn took the early lead in doubles as Marsoun and Stamchev defeated Hunt and Schnugg, while Tsyrenov and Alex Petropoulos took a win on court two for the point. However, the doubles wins would be Auburn's lone victories during the day, as the Tigers fell, 4-1, to end their run in the conference tournament.
On the other side of the courts, South Florida will bring plenty of momentum to the table, riding its first Big East Conference Championship. The Bulls are coached by Don Barr, who received Big East Coach of the Year honors after a successful 14-8 season.
South Florida is led by All-Big East Team members Wael Kilani, Mahmoud Hamed and Lucas Jovita. Jovita comes into the tournament ranked 76th and is followed by Kilani, the No. 123 singles player. In doubles, Jovita teams with Thomas Estrada, forming the No. 46 doubles pair in the country.
During the Big East Tournament, the Bulls topped St. John's, Notre Dame and DePaul en route to their championship. In the three matches, the Bulls took the early lead with the doubles point and did not let up in singles play. Collectively, South Florida won the matches and the tournament by a combined score of 12-2.
The two teams have already faced each other this season, with the Tigers taking the 4-1 decision on the road. During the match, Auburn struck early, claiming the doubles point, and continued to roll through singles play as Puetz, Stamchev and Petropoulos found wins.
"We played well that day, but we knew we were going to have to play well and we will have to again on Friday," said Shore.
The match between the Tigers and the Bulls is set to begin at 10 a.m. at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center in Tallahassee, Fla., as Florida State is the regional host for the first two rounds.
For more information about the tournament, fans can check out the 2009 Men's Tennis Championship Central at www.AuburnTigers.com.
Fans that are unable to attend the match may follow along with live stats at www.Seminoles.com.