March 10, 2006
AUBURN, Ala. - The Auburn women's tennis team fell 6-1 to Mississippi State on Friday at the Luther Young Tennis Complex.
Auburn (4-7, 0-3 SEC) got victories from Whitney Chappell in the No. 2 singles match and the doubles team of Alex Haney and Ashley Cowart in the No. 2 doubles match, but it was not enough to defeat the Lady Bulldogs. Mississippi State (3-7, 1-2 SEC) won the match by taking five of six singles matches and the doubles point.
"We knew today's match was going to be a battle from the beginning," head coach Tim Gray said. "We felt like we were coming in on equal footing with them even though they were the SEC Western Division co-champions last year. We made some crucial errors at critical times, and that really made the difference this afternoon."
In doubles play, the Lady Bulldogs took two of three matches to secure the doubles point. Auburn's win came in the No. 2 match, as Auburn's duo of Alex Haney and Ashley Cowart won their second straight match, defeating Elna de Villiers and Martina Banikova, 8-5.
In No. 1 doubles, Whitney Chappell and Tori Almagno lost for the first time in the SEC and had their three-match win streak snapped as they fell, 8-5, to Mississippi State's tandem of Anastasia Kugakolova and Polina Kokoulina. At the No. 3 spot, playing together for the first time in doubles, Irina Pljusznyin and Leigh Tippins fell to State's Daniela Juskova and Renee Joseph, 8-5.
In singles action, Auburn's Whitney Chappell defeated Martina Banikova at the No. 2 position, 6-1, 6-1, to earn her first career SEC victory and improve to 5-5 this spring.
"Today was a really big confidence booster for Whitney," Gray said. "She is a great player and is coming along well."
In No. 1 singles, Alex Haney and Anastasia Kugakolova met for the second time this year. During the Tigers' fall schedule, Haney defeated Kugakolova 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, on October 13 at the ITA Southern Regional. Kugakolova evened the score this afternoon with a pair of 6-2 wins over Haney. At the No. 3 position, senior Ashley Cowart began her match with a 6-4 victory in the first set over Mississippi State's Renee Joseph. Joseph won the second set 6-2, forcing a 10-point super tiebreak. In the tiebreak Joseph managed to take an early lead and fend off a late rally by Cowart to win the point 10-5.
In the No. 4 position, Tori Almagno was defeated by Polina Kokoulina by a score of 7-6 (4), 6-3. Playing No. 5 Dzeljan Memisi lost to the Lady Bulldogs' Daniela Juskova, 6-2, 6-3. At No. 6, Mississippi State's Tatiana Feit defeated Erin Gray of Auburn, 7-5, 6-1.
Auburn continues its homestand on Sunday, when the Tigers face Ole Miss at 1 p.m.
Mississippi State vs. Auburn
March 10, 2006
1. Anastasia Kugakolova, MSU def. Alex Haney, AU, 6-2, 6-2.
2. Whitney Chappell, AU def. Martina Banikova, MSU, 6-1, 6-1.
3. Renee Joseph, MSU def. Ashley Cowart, AU, 4-6, 6-2, 1-0 (10-5)
4. Polina Kokoulina, MSU def. Alex Haney, AU, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.
5. Daniela Juskova, MSU def. Dzeljan Memisi, AU, 6-2, 6-3.
6. Tatiana Feit, MSU def. Erin Gray, AU, 7-5, 6-1.
Order of Finish: 1, 5, 2, 6, 4, 3
1. Anastasia Kugakolova/Polina Kokoulina, MSU def. Whitney Chappell/Tori Almagno, AU, 8-5.
2. Alex Haney/Ashley Cowart, AU def. Elna de Villiers/Martina Banikova, MSU, 8-5.
3. Daniela Juskova/Renee Joseph, MSU def. Leigh Tippins/Irina Pljusznyin, AU, 8-5.
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2