Tiger Tennis Player Advances To NCAA Quarters

For a second straight season, Tiger tennis players are making a strong showing at the national tournament.

Athens, Ga.--Junior Rameez Junaid won his third match at the NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament to advance to the quarter-finals of the 64-player draw.

Junaid took a comeback 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 victory over Oliver Maiberger of San Diego State on Friday. He improved his spring singles record to 16-7.

"This was a long one," Junaid said. "I came out kind of slow, but it was a good crowd and that helped in the second set. I put two [sets] together and luckily that was enough to finish it out and win today."

Junior Rameez Junaid is Auburn's top player this season.

Junaid, a junior who is ranked 14th nationally, defeated Ryan Livesay of Tulsa 7-6 (5), 6-3 to advance to the round of 32. He then defeated SEC rival Romain Ambert of Mississippi State to reach the round of 16 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-5.

In doubles, Junaid and sophomore Andy Colombo were eliminated as they tried to advance to the quarter-finals. They fell 7-6, 1-6, 6-2 to Livesay and Dustin Taylor of Tulsa. Colombo won the doubles title last season as a junior with Mark Kovacs. That was the first national title of any kind for an AU tennis player.

Junaid and Colombo finished the spring season with a 13-3 record.

Andy Columbo's season ended on Friday in doubles action.

"Rameez isn't playing his best tennis now, but he has been mentally tough," says Auburn coach Eric Shore. "He has worked hard to get his wins and he got a nice one in the third round."

Junaid will play Alex Vlaski of Washington on Saturday, who upset the event's number one seed on Friday, Bobby Reynolds of Vanderbilt, by scores of 7-5, 7-6. Junaid has never played Vlaski, but Colombo defeated him last year in the NCAA Tournament during Auburn's team victory over Washington.

Only three of the top eight seeds are left in the field of eight players. No. 2 Benedikt Dorsch of Baylor, No. 3 Amer Delic of Illinois and No. 4 Bo Hodge of Georgia are still in the field. A top-eight seed has won the NCAA singles title in all but two years since 1990. UNLV's Luke Smith and Stanford's Jared Palmer did so in 1997 and 1991, respectively. No one seeded No. 9-16 has won the NCAA title since 1990. Three of those seeds remain in the upper half of the draw--Junaid of Auburn, Vlaski and Hamid Mirzadeh of Florida.

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