Close Call: Junaid Just Misses NCAA Semis

Auburn's number one tennis player hooked up in a long battle with a player from the West Coast in the NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament.

Athens, Ga.--Auburn junior Rameez Junaid's season ended one point shy of a berth in the NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament singles semi-finals.

Six times Auburn's No. 1 player set up match points against Alex Vaski of Washington, but the Husky standout fought off each one and pulled out a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 victory on Saturday.

"I played my best on those (six match points)," Junaid said. "Give him credit. He played well under pressure and on the clutch points. That's the way it is in the quarter-finals. He played well and good luck to him."

Rameez Junaid will return for the Tigers next season to make another run at the NCAA title.

Vlaski said he was fortunate to advance. "I don't know how I pulled this out," he noted. "On one of the (match points) I was so tired I thought, ‘There is no way.' I was relying on my forehand. He was giving me short balls and he didn't take initiative on the match point and that was a mistake. I came and finished the point off and that gave me an opportunity. I saw the light and there was still hope I could win the match.

"I was really almost dying on the court I was so tired, Vlaski added. "It was a long match and he's a tough player. He moved me around; he got me exhausted. One of the reasons I probably won was that at the end, I was more aggressive."

The loss ended the season for Junaid, who also reached the round of 16 in doubles with Andy Columbo, who had beaten Vlaski last year in an NCAA team match in which Auburn defeated Washington.

Both NCAA semi-finals showdowns are rematches. On Oct. 11, Benedikt Dorsch of Baylor defeated Todd Widom of Miami 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-5 in a round of 32 match of the Icy Hot/ITA All-American Championships in Chattanooga, Tenn. Amer Delic of Illinois and Vlaski played during the Illini's 4-2 victory over Washington in an NCAA round of 16 team match last week. Delic won the first set 7-6 (3) before Vlaski rebounded to win the second set 6-4. They were on serve at 5-4 in the third set when Michael Calkins won the clinching match for Illinois at No. 4 singles and the other matches were stopped.

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