AU Coach Not Happy With NCAA Destination

Auburn, Ala.--For Coach Eric Shore, there was good news and bad news this week for the Auburn men's tennis program.

The good news for the Tigers is for a seventh straight season, Auburn has received an invitation to play in the NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament.

The bad news is that for the third time in the past four years, Auburn is being sent to Oxford, Miss., to play on the home courts of Ole Miss, a team that has put together a 42-match winning streak against SEC competition.

"We are happy to be in the tournament, but we are not happy where we are going," Shore tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "We are excited and I think we deserve the bid even though it has been a tough year for us, but I don't understand why we are going back to Oxford again.

"I don't want to start every year feeling like that is where we are going end up play," adds Shore, who has taken his team to the NCAA Tournament in 12 of the past 13 seasons. "Geographically, it is not like it is close. It is six hours away compared to Georgia, which is three hours away.

"Alabama is going there to play Georgia Tech and Georgia is playing Furman. How is it possible that Alabama isn't going to Ole Miss? I don't understand it. I know there are seedings and other considerations, and I would understand it if it was one year, but this is three years in a row."

The Tigers, who are ranked 44th nationally, will take on 17th-ranked FSU on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Tigers haven't played the Seminoles since the 2002 season when Auburn posted a 4-2 victory. That Auburn team advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship.

Auburn, which is 14-10, faces an FSU team that is 17-11 while Ole Miss plays Belmont. Last season in Oxford, the Tigers opened NCAA play with a victory over Middle Tennessee State before falling to Ole Miss.

Shore says his team, which will have a three-week layoff since its last match, should be healthier for NCAA play than at any time this season. "Normally the layoff would be a problem, but this year I think it is a good thing for us," he says.

"Lukas Marsoun has had a chance to recover from his shoulder problem," Shore says of the freshman who has a winning record at five and six singles this season as well as one and two doubles. "He was having to serve underhanded at the SEC Tounament, which is not a good situation."

Looking at the Seminoles, Shore says, "Florida State is a very good first round opponent. We will have to play our best tennis of the season to be successful in Oxford and that is how we plan to approach it. We are going over there with the attitude that we are familiar with the surroundings so we are going to look at that as a plus."


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