Growcott, Skupski named doubles All-Americans

LSU men's tennis standouts Mark Growcott and Ken Skupski were named doubles All-Americans for the 2005 season, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced Friday.

The duo's final ranking of No. 4, also released Friday, along with earning a top-eight seed at the NCAA Tournament and advancing to the tournament finals qualified them for this honor.

"Ken and Mark showed everyone how well they could play in doubles this year, and they were rewarded for that with this honor," head coach Jeff Brown said.

Skupski and Growcott both listed in the final singles poll as well at Nos. 40 and 74, respectively. Growcott notched a 20-15 record on the year, going 16-10 in dual matches. Skupski finished at 24-14 and was the only Tiger to compete in the NCAA singles championships, where he fell in first-round play.

"Their doubles play was great this year, but it was their singles play as well that helped the team to a top-10 finish," Brown added. "It's that we want to build on for next season and use it to bring us to higher achievements."

In doubles, the pair went 34-10 together on the year, including 21-6 in dual matches. The 34 wins broke the LSU record for wins by a doubles team in single season of 31 set by Chad Dudley and Ryan Ideta in 1996.

Growcott and Skupski are the first All-America selections for LSU men's tennis since Ajay Ramaswami was chosen a singles All-American in 2001. They are the first doubles pair since Dan Kiernan and Michal Chmela in 2000.

They are also only the 10th and 11th players in LSU men's tennis history to be named doubles All-Americans, included in that list their coach, a 1988 doubles All-American.

"You always want your players do better than you did, and it's great to see these guys get their careers off to such a great start," Brown commented. "It is very satisfying to see your players do as well as Ken and Mark did this year."

The Tigers tandem entered last week's NCAA doubles championships as a No. 5-8 seed with a No. 6 national ranking. They defeated the No. 22-ranked pair in the country to advance to the round of 16, where they defeated Boise State's 11th-ranked Thomas Schoeck and Luke Shields.

In the quarterfinals, they beat a hot Brown team and moved on to the semifinals to face No. 2-ranked and seeded KC Corkery and Sam Warburg of Stanford, the defending doubles national champions. They defeated them in two sets to advance to the national championship match.

There they faced top-seeded and ranked John Isner and Antonio Ruiz of Georgia, who proved to be too much to overcome, as Growcott and Skupski fell in two sets, 7-6(4), 7-5.

Isner and Ruiz finished with the top national ranking in doubles, joined along with the LSU duo and six other pairs from the Southeastern Conference in the top 15, making eight total from the SEC. The SEC also had 12 doubles All-America selections.

"That just shows how tough the first point of a dual match is to get all season long," Brown said. "Your Nos. 2 and 3 doubles team have to be ready every match, because there is so much competition at the No. 1 spot and you can never assume anything. Depth in the lineup is key."

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