STARKVILLE, Miss. – Auburn’s 17th-ranked men’s tennis team advanced to the SEC Tournament quarterfinals with a 4-2 win over No. 39 South Carolina on Thursday morning at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
With the win, the seventh-seeded Tigers (17-8) will face second-seeded Georgia in the tournament quarterfinals on Friday. Auburn has also now surpassed its win total from the 2011 season with its 17th victory of the year, and the Tigers now have their most single-season wins since winning 20 matches in the 2002 season. South Carolina fell to 15-11 overall.
“I think we’re continuing to improve in doubles,” Auburn head coach Eric Shore said. “I thought we played well in all three spots today in doubles. And then in singles, we knew South Carolina was going to fight back, and they did. It was very tough at the end, it was close and our guys found a way to get four points. Gotta give Dan (Cochrane) a lot of credit, he’s been battling hard. He played well today. We’ve been telling him that if he keeps fighting like he has, good things were going to happen, and they did.”
The Tigers got a measure of revenge by winning the doubles point in today’s match; the Gamecocks had taken an early lead in the team’s earlier match in Columbia before Auburn rallied from a 2-0 deficit to take a narrow victory. The Auburn team of Daniel Cochrane and Lukas Ollert struck first with an 8-4 win over Carl Eguez and Kyle Koch at the No. 3 doubles position. Just a few minutes later, the 14th-ranked pair of Alex Stamchev and Andreas Mies downed No. 24 Chip Cox and Nick Jones, 8-5, on court one to clinch the point and give Auburn a 1-0 lead.
Dennis Lengsfeld and Lucas Lopasso were one game away from a win as well, holding a 7-3 lead on Ivan Machado and Thiago Pinheiro when play was halted.
Auburn increased its lead to 2-0 when Lopasso rallied from down an early break to roll to a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Cox at the No. 5 singles spot. But South Carolina would cut into the deficit when Pinheiro took down Lengsfeld, 6-4, 6-0, on court four.
A win from Cochrane over Jones on court three, 6-4, 6-1, would put the Tigers just one point away from clinching the match. But again, South Carolina would come up with a big win as Andrew Adams earned a 6-4, 6-3 win over 66th-ranked Stamchev, 6-4, 6-3, on court two.
It would come down to a pair of matches in the third set after Mies had dropped the second set of his match and Ollert had rallied to win set two at the No. 6 position. And it would be 18th-ranked Mies emerging victorious on court one, outlasting No. 116 Machado, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, to clinch the win for Auburn.
Ollert was tied with Kyle Koch 4-4 in the third set when play was suspended.
Friday’s quarterfinal match against second-seeded Georgia is set for another 8 a.m. start. Live scoring will be available through HailState.com.
2012 SEC Tournament – First Round
April 19, 2012
A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre – Starkville, Miss.
(7) Auburn 4, (10) South Carolina 2
1. #18 Andreas Mies (AU) def. #116 Ivan Machado (SC), 6-1, 4-6, 6-1
2. Andrew Adams (SC) def. #66 Alex Stamchev (AU), 6-4, 6-3
3. Daniel Cochrane (AU) def. Nick Jones (SC), 6-1, 6-4
4. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) def. Dennis Lengsfeld (AU), 6-4, 6-0
5. Lucas Lopasso (AU) def. Chip Cox (SC), 6-3, 6-3
6. Lukas Ollert (AU) vs. Kyle Koch (SC), 4-6, 7-5, 4-4 unfinished
Order of finish: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1*
1. #14 Alex Stamchev/Andreas Mies (AU) def. #24 Chip Cox/Nick Jones (SC), 8-5
2. Dennis Lengsfeld/Lucas Lopasso (AU) vs. Ivan Machado/Thiago Pinheiro (SC), 7-3 unfinished
3. Daniel Cochrane/Lukas Ollert (AU) def. Carl Eguez/Kyle Koch (SC), 8-4
Order of finish: 3, 1*