No. 1 Bulldogs Narrowly Escape AU Upset Bid

In a competition filled with close matches up and down the lineup, college tennis' top-ranked team got out of town with a narrow victory over upset-minded Auburn.

Auburn, Ala.--For the Auburn tennis team, it was a case of close, very close, but no cigar as the Tigers fell 4-3 to No. 1 ranked Georgia on Friday at the Luther Young Tennis Center.

The Tigers came into the match ranked 15th nationally, but Coach Eric Shore said he thought his Tigers had a legitimate chance to knock off the Bulldogs and that was certainly the case.

"I think we stood toe-to-toe with them really," said Shore, as his team fell to 7-2 for the season and 2-1 in the Southeastern Conference, a league that features every team with a Top 30 national ranking.

Auburn split the three singles matches, but Georgia won two out of three doubles matches to win the doubles point and that was the difference. (In college tennis, each singles victory is worth a point and the team that wins two out of three doubles matches scores one point.)

"We knew we had to win the doubles point," Shore said. "We shuffled our doubles around. We put it on the table and almost got it done. We were in the breaker (tiebreak) at one and got it done there and we almost did it at two, but they are the number one team in the country...I think we are a Top 10 team in country, but we have got to go out and get over the top. Sunday is going to be our day. We are going to get it done on Sunday."

Auburn's Andrew Colombo hits a backhand in his singles victory.

Matias Boeker, the defending NCAA singles champion, defeated Auburn's Rameez Junaid 6-4, 6-2 in the No. 1 singles match and teamed with Bo Hodge at No. 1 doubles where he fell to Junaid and Tiago Ruffoni 9-8.

Ruffoni defeated Brandon Wagner 6-4, 7-5 at No. 2 singles and Auburn's hard-hitting freshman, Andrew Colombo, defeated Bo Hodge 6-2, 6-7, 6-4 at No. 3 singles.

Lesley Joseph of Georgia rallied to defeat Mark Kovacs 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 in a battle of left-handers at No. 4 singles.

UGA's Adam Seria defeated Estevam Strecker 6-3, 6-4 at No. 5 singles.

Auburn freshman left-hander Mark Van Elden outlasted Nicolas Boeker of Georgia 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 at No. 6 singles.

Shore said the tiebreaker loss at No. 2 doubles was a killer for his team as Wagner and Seria of Georgia nipped Colombo and Kovacs 9-8. Georgia won the No. 3 doubles as Nicolas Boeker and Joseph defeated Andre Boz and Strecker 8-4.

The Tigers will entertain 12th-ranked Tennessee at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Luther Young Tennis Center on the Auburn campus.

Tiger Ticket Extra: This is potentially Auburn's best tennis team since 1984 when Coach Hugh Thomson's Tigers won a second straight SEC title. Shore says, "We feel like we are capable of beating anybody in the conference." When asked if this was his most talented AU team, Shore said, "It is most talented team and the deepest team, but it isn't the hardest working team yet and that's what might separate us from being the best team we have ever had. We have talked about that. We have to work harder in practice. Against a team like this, you find out." Shore, who has coached the Tigers since 1991, lectured his team about physical fitness after the match. "If you want to be the best, you have to pay the price," he said. "We will see what happens in the next two months."...Six-foot-three freshman Andrew Colombo from Rochester, N.Y., is a candidate for having the biggest serve of any player in Auburn tennis history. Bud Cox (1979-82), a player who made the world Top 10 rankings in doubles, hit the ball harder than any other Tiger prior to Colombo's arrival.

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