No. 35 Men's Tennis Set To Open NCAA Tournament With No. 28 Wake Forest
Alexey Tsyrenov

May 8, 2008

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AUBURN - The 35th-ranked Auburn men's tennis team opens the 2008 NCAA Tournament at 10 a.m. ET, Saturday against No. 38 Wake Forest in Athens, Ga.

For Auburn (10-12), it marks the team's ninth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and 16th overall. Fourteen of the Tigers' 16 NCAA trips have come under current head coach Eric Shore, who is in his 17th season on the Plains.

"I think we are ready to go," said Shore. "This is what you play all year for all season, going to the NCAAs, and after three weeks off we are definitely ready to play."

Overall, Auburn has a 17-15 record in the NCAA Tournament and a 16-13 mark under Shore. This will be Auburn's first matchup against Wake Forest in the NCAA Tournament, but the sixth trip for the Tigers to Athens, Ga. for NCAAs.

The Demon Deacons enter the match with a 17-10 record after falling to top-ranked Virginia in the second round of the ACC Tournament.

"They are good team, playing in a strong conference and ranked ahead of us, so we are going in as the underdog," said Shore. "Hopefully we match up well with them and play our best match in a while on Saturday."

Auburn and Wake Forest are tied 3-3 in the all-time series with the last meeting coming during the 1987 season. The Demon Deacons won the last match, 5-2.

The Tigers bring an experienced squad to the match as five current players have experience in the NCAA Tournament. Pawel Dilaj, Lukas Marsoun, Terence Nugent and Alexey Tsyrenov all played at NCAAs in 2007 while Milan Krnjetin played in 2006. This will be the first NCAA Tournament for newcomers Alex Petropoulos and Tim Puetz. Petropoulos, however, is no stranger to competing on the national level as he was part of two NAIA National Championship teams while playing at Auburn-Montgomery.

Shore says the key to an Auburn win on Saturday lies in the doubles point. The Tigers were 9-2 during the regular season when winning the point, but a paltry 0-10 when losing it.

"We need to win the doubles point," said Shore. "If we don't do that, we are going to have to have some guys step up in singles and help our cause. We are sticking with the same combinations we used at SECs and against Alabama, we've worked on it and hopefully it will work out for us."

Action in the Wake Forest-Auburn match begins at 10 a.m. ET at the Henry Field Stadium at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. Georgia and Radford follow at 1 p.m. ET with the other first-round match.

The winners from Saturday's matches will meet at 2 p.m. ET, Sunday in the second round.

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