Tiger Tennis Loses Heartbreaker To Horns

Despite a late rally, the Auburn Tigers couldn't overcome an early deficit in the first round of the NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament in Athens, Ga.

Athens, Ga.--The No. 46 Texas Longhorns held off an Auburn rally to defeat the 26th-ranked Tigers 4-3 in the opening round of the 2004 NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament Saturday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens.

The Longhorns will face the Georgia on Sunday at 2 p.m., vying for a trip to the round of 16 at the University of Tulsa on May 22.

Texas built a 3-1 lead before Auburn tied the match at 3-3. Jose Zarhi used a three-set win at No. 2 singles to earn the Longhorns the 4-3 victory.

"That match typified our entire season," said Texas head coach Michael Center. "We have been in that situation numerous times this season and unfortunantly we have not been able to come out on top. I told them last night that we were going to be in this situation and just to trust yourself, believe in yourself and compete hard, and we will give ourselves a chance to win. That's what we did.

"It feels great to beat a really good Auburn team," added Center. "I knew whoever we played in the first round was going to be a tough team. Auburn is a great team, and they showed their character and their toughness today by continuing to battle. I am just proud of our guys, and we found a way to win today."

Texas (15-11) took the early lead after posting wins at Nos. 1 and 2 doubles. The Longhorn tandem of Pete Stroer and Jimmy Haney topped Alex Schweizer and Nick Lane 8-4 at No. 2 before the Auburn pair of Gabor Zoltan Pelva and Brett Hunter earned an 8-2 win against Will Clinton and Ryan Haymond at No. 3 doubles.

All eyes turned to Court 1 where Antonio Ruiz and Zarhi of Texas clinched the doubles point with an 8-6 win against Robbert Lathouwers and Rodrigo Minozzo at the top doubles spot.

Haney was first off the court in singles, as he cruised past Lane, 6-0, 6-1, at No. 4 singles to give Texas a 2-0 lead. Auburn got on the board as Gabor Pelva, ranked No. 20 in the ITA singles rankings, worked past 49th-ranked Ruiz 6-4, 6-2 at No. 1 singles.

Texas extended its lead to 3-1 when Stroer topped Lathouwers 7-5, 7-5 at No. 3 singles, but the Tigers fought back, cutting the deficit to a single point as Minozzo earned a three-set victory, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1, against Clinton at No. 5.

The Tigers evened the match at 3-3 when Hunter used a three-set comeback to defeat Hubert Chodkiewicz 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 at No. 6 singles.

Zarhi of Texas jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the deciding match on Court 2 against Schweizer, and the Longhorn held on for the 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-2 win to clinch the team's 15th win of the season. The win also snapped a four-match losing skid for Texas.

"It was obviously a tough match," said Auburn head coach Eric Shore. "We got behind too far, too early and dug ourselves a little bit too big a hole. We knew they were very good going in. We have three freshmen, and that might have showed a little bit today. We could have quit about an hour and a half earlier, but we didn't. We stayed in there and battled, but Texas was just a little bit better than we were today.

"We knew it was going to be a tough match and go right down to the end," added Shore. "We knew they were probably a little stronger in doubles, so losing the doubles point was not unexpected. I thought we could win four singles matches, but Texas held on."

Texas will face Georgia in the NCAA second round on Sunday, May 16 at 2 p.m. at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Tickets prices are $5 for adults and $3 for children and students.

Center said, "You play at match like at this time of the year, and if you want to be a great team, you have to play that way several days in a row. We have conditioned and worked out. I expect Georgia to be ready to go and play their best match tomorrow, but I think we will be ready to fight here."


1. Ruiz/Zarhi (Texas) def. Lathouwers/Minozzo (Auburn), 8-6*
2. Haney/Stroer (Texas) def. Schweizer/Lane (Auburn), 8-4
3. Zoltan Pelva/Hunter (Auburn) def. Clinton/Haymond (Texas), 8-2 *clinched point


1. (20) Gabor Zoltan Pelva (Auburn) def. (49) Antonio Ruiz (Texas), 6-4, 6-2
2. Jose Zarhi (Texas) def. Alex Schweizer (Auburn), 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-2* (clinched match)
3. Pete Stroer (Texas) def. Robbert Lathouwers (Auburn), 7-5, 7-5
4. Jimmy Haney (Texas) def. Nick Lane (Auburn), 6-0, 6-1
5. Rodrigo Minozzo (Auburn) def. Will Clinton (Texas), 7-5, 4-6, 6-1
6. Brett Hunter (Auburn) def. Hubert Chodkiewicz (Texas), 2-6, 6-4, 7-5

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