Tigers Host South Carolina, Florida This Weekend
AUBURN - The Auburn men's tennis team will wrap up a three-match Southeastern Conference home stand this weekend with a pair of key league matches against South Carolina (2 p.m. Friday) and Florida (1 p.m. Sunday) at the Yarbrough Tennis Center.
Admission is free for both matches, and fans at both matches can pick up a slice of free pizza, courtesy of Domino's Pizza, at the intermission. Live stats will be available through AuburnTigers.com.
"These two matches this weekend will be extremely tight," Auburn head coach Eric Shore said. "The Gamecocks have been a really tough match for us the last couple of years. We've played them four times over the last two years, twice in the regular season and twice in the conference tournament. We were fortunate enough to win all of those, but each one has been extremely tough. I expect that same kind of match Friday.
"Florida's been a very good team over the years. There are a few unanswered questions with their team this year, but it's going to be another tough match for us. They lost to South Carolina 4-3 (7-6 in the third, last match on) a couple of weeks ago. I'm confident in our team, and I'm confident we can win both these matches, but we're going to have to play our best tennis to do it."
Auburn enters the weekend at 10-5 overall, 2-3 in SEC play. Last time out, the Tigers fell to No. 27 Alabama by a 4-3 score last Saturday. All three league matches at home thus far have ended in heartbreaking, 4-3 setbacks that have come down to the last match.
"We've lost doubles three times this year, and all three have been 4-3 conference losses," Shore said. "We're 12-3 in doubles overall. We got off to a really good start Saturday but just weren't able to hold the lead. We're going to work on it some more. I like our combinations right now and don't want to mess with it. The doubles point is really important, but I don't like to put so much emphasis on it that you feel like you can't win the match if you lose that point. Confidence-wise, momentum-wise, it's a big deal. But you've got to be able to push back from that."
In dual play, the Tigers have an overall mark of 29-10 in doubles, including a 12-3 mark from the team of Dennis Lengsfeld and Lucas Lopasso, who have played exclusively in the No. 2 role. The nation's third-ranked tandem of Andreas Mies and Daniel Cochrane are 10-3 at the top spot in the lineup, and they have had two matches in conference play halted when the doubles point was clinched.
Mies has been steady for the Tigers in singles, posting a 4-1 record in SEC play and a 10-3 overall mark at the No. 1 line, and sophomore Lukas Ollert has won five of his last six matches at the No. 3 singles spot, going 4-1 in SEC play so far and 11-2 for the spring.
South Carolina is 11-7 overall, 1-3 in SEC play. The Gamecocks dropped a pair of road matches last weekend in league play, falling at No. 6 Tennessee (4-1) and No. 5 Georgia (5-2). Tsvetan Mihov leads the Gamecocks from the No. 1 position, where he has posted a 10-6 overall mark (2-1 SEC) while earning the No. 106 national rankings. Kyle Koch and Thiago Pinheiro also have 10 wins in dual play, with Koch playing mostly at the No. 5 spot and Pinheiro at the No. 4 position. The team of Mihov and Chip Cox is ranked No. 50 nationally in doubles with a 7-6 dual record.
Florida enters the weekend with an 8-6 overall record, 2-2 in conference play, but the Gators jumped to No. 18 in the rankings after a road victory at then-No. 6 Tennessee on Sunday. The Gators have two ranked singles players, led by No. 75 Florent Diep, who has posted a 5-7 dual match record playing at the top two spots. Bob van Overbeek checks in at No. 123 in the rankings. Billy Fedenhofer has been the Gators' stalwart at the bottom of the lineup, posting a 9-2 record in dual play, 3-0 in the SEC. In doubles, the team of van Overbeek at Stephane Piro is ranked No. 57 with a 5-4 record in dual play, but is just 1-3 in SEC play.