AUBURN - The Auburn men's tennis team begins the championship season as the No. 10 seed in the 2013 SEC Men's Tennis Tournament, where the Tigers will face seventh-seeded Vanderbilt in the second round at noon Thursday in Oxford, Miss.
Auburn (13-9, 5-7 SEC) and Vanderbilt (15-9, 6-6 SEC) enter postseason play as two of 11 SEC teams in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association top 25, with the Tigers ranked No. 21 and the Commodores coming in at No. 16.
Thursday's match will be the second meeting of the season between the two teams; Auburn won the earlier meeting in Nashville, 4-2, on March 29, when the Commodores were ranked 14th in the nation.
"We really started believing in ourselves that day, with that win," Auburn head coach Eric Shore said. "That was a huge win for us. We went on a little tear after that match. That convinced us we had the ability to compete with teams that are in the top-15. We were believers after that match. This year, SEC men's tennis is as strong as I've ever seen it. You have to be ready to play each and every day, and not just for portions - you've got to play the entire match or you're not going to win.
"Vanderbilt's strength is not doubles, but they are good enough in singles to win four matches. We've got to compete hard, play hard, see where the chips fall and go from there. Our doubles play is going to be the key. We need to get that doubles point against Vandy to get that momentum going into singles. Vandy is very, very good in singles, and they don't need to win that doubles point."
Live scoring will be available through OleMissSports.com, and fans can follow @MensTennisAU and @SECMTennis on Twitter for updates throughout the tournament.
The winner of Thursday's match will advance to the quarterfinals to face second-seeded Tennessee at noon Friday.
ABOUT THE TIGERS
Auburn is led by the doubles team of senior Andreas Mies and junior Daniel Cochrane, who entered the season ranked No. 2 in the nation and moved up to No. 1 at one point in the season. They claimed Auburn's first-ever title at the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa and also advanced to the semifinals at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships in November. They are currently ranked No. 4.
Junior Dennis Lengsfeld owns a team-best 15-4 mark in singles during the dual match season (7-3 SEC), and sophomore Lukas Ollert isn't far behind with a 14-4 mark (7-3 SEC). Mies is 7-5 in league play and 13-7 overall in the dual season. The Tigers' No. 2 doubles team of Lengsfeld and Lucas Lopasso has won 21 matches this season, including a 16-6 mark (7-5 SEC) in dual play.
Auburn is coming off a pair of losses last weekend to No. 3 Georgia (4-0) and No. 10 Tennessee (4-0), both on the road, to close out the regular season.
AUBURN AND SEC TENNIS HISTORY
This is Auburn's 64th year of fielding a varsity men's tennis team. However, the SEC Tournament in its current format has only existed since 1990. From 1953-89, the SEC Champion was determined by the accumulation of points in an individual flighted tournament.
Auburn has won two SEC titles in its history, capturing the championship in 1983 and 1984. Since the team tournament format began in 1990, the Tigers have advanced to the championship match once, finishing runner-up to Tennessee in 2002.
Since Head Coach Eric Shore took over prior to the 1990-91 season, Auburn has a 17-21 record in the SEC Tournament.
2012 SEC TOURNAMENT RECAP
Last year, the Tigers were the No. 7 seed after finishing third in the SEC Western Division. Auburn opened the tournament with a 4-2 win over South Carolina before falling to Georgia in the quarterfinals, 4-0.
LAST TIME: AUBURN 4, VANDERBILT 2 (3/29/13)
Auburn's 32nd-ranked men's tennis team earned a 4-2 victory over No. 14 Vanderbilt in an indoor match at the Currey Tennis Center. The Tigers picked up their second straight win and third this season over a top-25 opponent and pulled back to .500 in conference play with a win over the Commodores.
Auburn got off to a quick start with a pair of strong wins in doubles to take an early 1-0 lead. The team of Lukas Ollert and Joseph Van Dooren pulled away early and breezed to an 8-2 win over Vandy's Rhys Johnson and Jeff Offerdahl at the third doubles line. Auburn secured the point at the No. 2 position as Dennis Lengsfeld and Lucas Lopasso took care of Gonzales Austin and Suresh Eswaran, 8-5. The Tigers made it a 2-0 advantage as Lengsfeld, after moving up to the No. 3 singles line this week, defeated Offerdahl in straight sets, 6-2, 6-0. But the Commodores fought back at the top of the lineup. Austin, ranked No. 62 in singles, defeated Cochrane at the No. 2 spot, 6-3, 6-3, and the `Dores tied things up at 2-2 as 17th-ranked Lipman outlasted Mies at the top spot, 6-2, 7-6 (8).
But the bottom of the lineup came through for Auburn. Lopasso won an epic battle at the fifth singles position, winning two tiebreakers to defeat van der Merwe, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (8). And 105th-ranked Ollert clinched the victory for the Tigers in thrilling fashion with a 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (3) win over Kris Yee at the No. 4 position.
HISTORY VS. VANDERBILT
Auburn has a 32-15 advantage in the all-time series with Vanderbilt that dates back to 1968. The Tigers have defeated the Commodores six straight times and eight of the last nine meetings. This is the first time Auburn has faced Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament.
AUBURN IN THE RANKINGS
Auburn enters the SEC Tournament ranked No. 21 in the nation, exactly where the Tigers began the season. Auburn has been ranked as high as No. 18 and as low as No. 37 during the season.
Individually, junior Andreas Mies is ranked No. 28 in the national singles rankings, equaling his highest rating of the 2012 dual match season. Sophomore Lukas Ollert and junior Daniel Cochrane crack the rankings at No. 119 and No. 121, respectively.
In doubles, the Tigers' top team of Mies and Cochrane are ranked No. 4 entering postseason play; the duo have been in the top-5 for the entire dual match season. Auburn's No. 2 team of Dennis Lengsfeld and Lucas Lopasso are ranked 64th entering the SEC Tournament.
The Tigers have four wins over opponents ranked in the latest top-20 this season, and eight of their nine losses came to teams currently ranked in the top-25.