Tigers Fall Short Of Tennis Sweet 16

Host Ole Miss was too strong for Auburn in tennis on at the NCAA Regional in Oxford, Miss.

Oxford, Miss.--Auburn's team season ended in the second round of the NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament as host Ole Miss, a recent tennis nemesis for the Tigers, defeated Auburn 4-0 on Sunday.

The eighth-ranked Rebels advance to the Sweet 16 round of the tournament in Athens, Ga., while improving their record to 20-4. Although 23rd-ranked Auburn leads the overall series vs. Ole Miss, it was the Rebels' 14th straight victory over the Tigers.

Auburn,which finished the team season 16-10, defeated Georgia Tech 4-3 in the opening round of the tournament while Ole Miss stopped College of Charleston 4-0.

Junior Rameez Junaid will compete in the NCAA Tournament in singles and in double with sophomore Andy Colombo. They are ranked 13th nationally in doubles. Colombo won the NCAA doubles title last year playing with Mark Kovacs, who was a senior in 2002.

Rameez Junaid will test his skills in the singles draw at the NCAA Tournament in Athens, Ga.

Ole Miss jumped ahead 1-0 by winning the doubles point by taking the No. 2 and No. 3 matches while Junaid and Colombo took the No. 1 singles match. Auburn had won the doubles point in two previous meetings this season. Catalin Gard and Paul Ciorascu downed Rodrigo Minozzo and Markus Schiller 8-3 at No. 2 and then Auburn won at No. 1 doubles 8-3. Senior Patrick Chucri and sophomore Karim Alayli defeated Gabor Zolta Pelva and Tom George 8-4 at No. 3 doubles to give the Rebels the 1-0 lead.

"It was exciting to get the doubles point," Ole Miss coach Billy Chadwick said. "It is extremely important. For us to get the doubles point against them today, it put them in the corner. I give Auburn credit for fighting back."

Gard rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the third set against Auburn's Pelva on court two to clinch the win. After losing the first set 6-3, Gard claimed the second 6-4. Down 3-1 in the third set, Gard broke Pelva to go up 5-3 and served it out to send the Rebels to the Sweet 16.

"This team was very determined to get to Athens," Chadwick said. "They knew to accomplish that they were going to have to out fight a very tough Auburn team. That's what they did today. Every match was a cliffhanger. The most impressive thing was that when we made a mistake, we continued to fight. The one that showed great determination was Catalin Gard, being down 3-1 in the third and then finding a way to win. It was just clutch play from him. He wanted it more than his opponent."

Ole Miss also got a big win at No. 1 singles, as senior Alex Hartman avenged to regular season losses to Auburn's Junaid. Hartman, ranked seventh nationally in singles, took a 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 14 Junaid. "Where we stung them was Alex beating Junaid at No. 1 singles," Chadwick said. "He had lost to him twice earlier this season. That was a big boost for us. All of a sudden, it was going to be tough for them to beat us. But then, they starting coming back and you saw that resilient Auburn team we talked about."

NCAA Tournament Results


No. 1--Alex Hartman (OM) def. Rameez Junaid (AU) 6-4, 6-4

No. 2--Catalin Gard (OM) def. Gabor Zolton Pelva (AU) 3-6, 6-4, 6-3

No. 3--Paul Ciorascu (OM) vs. Andy Colombo (AU) 6-7 (2), 7-6 (3), 2-2, suspended

No. 4--Claes Lindholm (OM) vs. Rodrigo Minozzo (AU) 7-5, 6-7 (3), 0-1, suspended

No. 5--Patrick Chucri (OM) vs. Andre Boz (AU) 6-4, 4-6, 2-4, suspended

No. 6--Karim Alayli (OM) def. Markus Schiller (AU) 6-4, 7-5


No. 1--Junaid-Colombo (AU) def. Hartman-Lindholm (OM) 8-3

No.2 Gard-Ciorascu (OM) def. Minozzo-Schiller (AU) 8-3

No.3 Chucri-Alayli (OM) def. Pelva-George (AU) 8-4

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