March 1, 2012
AUBURN – No. 66 Auburn opens SEC play at the Yarbrough Tennis Complex on Friday with Ole Miss and continues with Mississippi State on Sunday.
“We are excited to start SEC play,” Auburn head coach Lauren Longbotham Meisner said. “Both Ole Miss and Mississippi State will pose good challenges for us, and we are looking forward to seeing how we match up. The team is looking forward to playing at home again and we hope the fans come out to support us.”
The Tigers are ranked for the first time since February 2011, and are coming off a strong weekend at the Blue-Gray Tennis Classic in Montgomery. After a loss to then No. 12 Virginia, Auburn bounced back with its first ranked win since 2009 over No. 57 SMU and a narrow loss to newly-ranked Oklahoma State.
Auburn (5-3) also has its first ranked player in two seasons in Olivia Bennett, the ITA’s No. 157 player in women’s collegiate tennis. Bennett is 5-0 this spring at the No. 5 and 6 spots. The sophomore from Trinidad and Tobago is the first ranked Auburn singles player since All-American Fani Chifchieva finished the 2010 season ranked No. 31.
Ole Miss currently stands at 7-4 this season and is riding a three-match winning streak including victories over ranked teams from SMU and Tulsa. The Rebels are led by the 22nd-ranked player in the country, senior Kristi Boxx. The Grenada, Miss.-native is currently 15-7 on the season and 5-4 in match play this spring. Mississippi also features No. 63 Caroline Rohde-Moe (9-11, 6-4 dual in 2011-12).
Boxx and her doubles partner Abby Guthrie are ranked seventh nationally.
Sunday’s opponent Mississippi State (4-3) faces Alabama on Friday before making the trip to The Plains. The Bulldogs ended a two-match losing streak with a 7-0 win over Southern Miss on February 26. MSU is led by No. 91 individual Alexandra Perper.
Perper teams with Olesya Tsigvintseva to form the nation’s No. 44 doubles tandem.
Live stats for both matches are available at the links above. For more information on Auburn women’s tennis follow @AUWomensTennis on Twitter.