Big Friday For Tiger Teams

Tiger teams came up big on Friday in Athens, Ga., Knoxville, Tenn., and Sea Island, Ga.

Friday was a strong day for Auburn teams at three SEC Championship competitions while the women's tennis team bowed out in the conference quarter-finals.

The most impressive performances were by the women's golfers and the men's tennis team.

In Athens, Ga., the Auburn shot an opening round tournament record eight-under-par 280 to take a nine stroke edge on South Carolina. Tennessee is third at 295 and Florida and Georgia are tied for fourth at 298 in the competition on the University of Georgia's course.

Danielle Downey led the Tigers with a 69 to put her in a four-way tie for the individual lead with LSU's Meredith Duncan, South Carolina's Kristy McPherson and Tennessee's Young-A Yang.

Danielle Downey is shown in action on Friday in Athens, Ga.

Auburn's Diana Ramage and Celeste Troche checked in with rounds of two-under-par 70 and Courtney Swaim finished at 71.

"We had one of the best rounds of golf I have ever seen," said AU coach Kim Evans, whose team is ranked No. 1 in the country. The 54-hole event includes 18 holes of play on Saturday and Sunday. "It is also great to see four of our individuals at or near the top of the leader board."

Also on Friday, Evans was named SEC Coach of the Year after leading the Tigers to five regular season touranment titles.

Downey, Swaim and Troche were each named to the eight-player All-SEC first team on Friday while freshman Kingsley Barrett was a second team All-SEC selection. Barrett was also named SEC Freshman of the Year.

The 12th-ranked men's golf team also played well in Georgia on Friday. On the Seaside course at Sea Island, Auburn is in second place after day one of the three-day competition. The Tigers shot a 285, just one stroke off the pace set by defending national champion and fourth-ranked Florida.

Junior Jay Mundy shot an even-par 70 and is tied for second place while sophomore Lee Williams is tied at 71. Senior Kevin Haefner and freshman Will Claxton are one shot back at 72.

"We had a very good board day today," Auburn coach Mike Griffin said. "I am very pleased with the way we played. We were fortunate enough to have an early tee time and play in some great weather."

Arkansas is in third at 290 and is followed by LSU at 292 and Vanderbilt at 294. Tennessee and Kentucky tied with 296 totals.

In Knoxville, Tenn., Auburn blitzed tennis rival LSU 4-0 to move into the semi-finals on Saturday to face ninth-ranked Kentucky. Auburn, 16-6 overall and ranked 15th nationally, played well, Coach Eric Shore said. "We played really well today," Shore noted. "We looked sharp and LSU looked a little flat. Our bye yesterday really worked to our advantage. We have to just take it one at a time now."

Auburn won the doubles point with Rameez Junaid and Tiago Ruffoni blitzing LSU's No. 1 team of Daniel Kiernan and Jason Hazley by an 8-1 score. Andrew Colombo and Mark Kovacs won the two doubles by an 8-5 score by stopping Cory Ross and Sebastian Rutka by an 8-5 margin.

In No. 4 singles, Kovacs defeated Rutka 6-1, 6-3. Senior Estevam Strecker defeated Ross 6-2, 6-0 at six singles. Mark Van Elden beat Bryan Fisher 6-3, 6-2 in five singles. Auburn was leading the other three singles matches when they were suspended after the Tigers clinched the victory.

Saturday's opponent, Kentucky, is 19-8 overall and dropped a 4-1 decision to the Tigers at the Luther Young Tennis Center during the regular season.

As expected, the women's tennis team bowed out on Friday in Columbia, S.C., falling 4-0 to sixth-ranked Vanderbilt, who improved to 25-3 overall.

Auburn coach Troy Porco said he was pleased with the effort from his team at the SEC Tournament that dropped to 14-8 for the season. Auburn advanced to the second round with a 4-1 victory over Mississippi State on Thursday.

"I think we did a great job," Porco said. "We competed very hard, competed very well in the singles and the doubles. We played them a couple of weeks ago and they really took it to us, but today we played them very close. Vanderbilt is a really good team. The score doesn't really indicate how close it was, but the matches were really close and I am proud of the teams performance."

Putting the icing on a strong day of Auburn sports competition, the baseball Tigers rallied for a 7-5 victory over Mississippi State.


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