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    SEC Men's Tennis Weekly Notebook

    The Alabama men’s tennis team had the last week off from match play and will now head to the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic, which will run Feb. 21-23 in Montgomery, Ala. The Crimson Tide is one of eight teams competing in the tournament and will be joined by Auburn, Boise State, Clemson, Mississippi State, Princeton, Texas Tech and VCU. In the latest ITA rankings, senior Daniil Proskura moved up to No. 12 in singles, while Becker O’Shaughnessey stands at No. 72.
    The University of Arkansas tennis team dropped a close decision to Tulsa on Feb. 14., 4-3. Arkansas took the doubles point with two upset victories over ranked opponents on courts 1 and 2 by the senior pairs of Nott/Jeske and Fess/Thomason. Freshman den Toom won his fifth straight singles match, which is both a team- and career-high for the young student-athlete. He has not lost a match since Jan. 24. Arkansas returns home for a full weekend, opened with Oklahoma State on Saturday and a doubleheader against SIU-Edwardsville Sunday.
    Auburn split a pair of road matches last weekend against two SEC foes as the Tigers saw their five-match winning streak snapped on Sunday. Auburn opened up the weekend with a thrilling 4-3 victory at No. 46 Georgia Tech on Friday night. The Tigers dropped the doubles point, but rallied back in singles as Dennis Lengsfeld tied the match at 3-3 with 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 win in No. 3 singles. Dan Cochrane picked up the deciding match with a tough three-set win on court two, posting a 6-0, 5-6 (6), 6-3 victory to give the Tigers the 4-3 win. Auburn fell on Sunday in its final road non-conference match of the season, falling to No. 23 Clemson, 6-1. Lengsfeld provided Auburn with its lone win in singles as the senior won on court two with another three-set win. Two of the nation’s longest winning streaks were snapped in the loss. Freshman Dante Saleh’s 12-match winning streak which was the best in the country, along with Cochrane’s 10-match winning streak were snapped. The Tigers wrap up non-conference play starting Friday at the three-day Blue Gray Classic in Montgomery, Ala.
    The No. 12 Florida men’s tennis team lost in round one of the 2014 ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship to No. 5 Ohio State, 4-1, who then went on to win the championship game yesterday over No. 3 Southern Cal. The Gators rallied back in the ITA consolation game to upset fourth-ranked SEC-foe Georgia, 4-2, with sophomore Gordon Watson winning the tiebreak at No. 3 singles to seal the Gator victory. On Sunday, UF lost to No. 16 Notre Dame, 4-0. Florida takes on in-state rival Florida State next on Feb. 26 at home.
    The Georgia men’s tennis team had an unlucky stay at the ITA Men’s National Team Indoor Championships this past week in Houston. The Bulldogs return home 0-3 in the event, moving to 3-5 overall on the 2014 season. By the final match, played Sunday vs. Mississippi State, the team was down to four players due to a combination of injury, illness, and one player serving a suspension for his conduct in the first match. Despite only four players available vs. MSU and starting down 3-0 by default after barely missing the doubles point, Georgia came back to tie the match at 3-3, but would fall just short on the final court as the other Bulldogs came away with the 4-3 win. UGA will have the next week-and-a-half off to get healthy before opening the outdoor season on Feb. 27 at 2:30 p.m. vs. Georgia Tech.
    Kentucky did not have any matches this week, as its current record sits at 7-3. The Wildcats’ next match will come on Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. ET in Norman, Okla., as UK will face off against the No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners, who advanced to the quarterfinal round of the ITA National Indoorsthis past weekend. In the new singles rankings, Kentucky had three players ranked, with Tom Jomby slotted as the highest-ranked UK player at No. 19. Sophomores Beck Pennington (76) and Kevin Lai (107) were also ranked in the first in-season rankings of the year.
    The No. 27 LSU men’s tennis team returns to action on Friday, February 21 as it travels Ann Arbor to take on No. 31 Michigan at 6 p.m. CT. The Tigers will have had a two-week break following back-to-back doubleheaders at Dub Robinson Stadium on February 8 and 9. Boris Arias and Chris Simpson not only improved to a 6-1 record in the 2014 dual season, but also shot up in the rankings from No. 60 to No. 30. Following the match at Michigan, LSU returns home for a eight-match home stand, which includes two double headers.
    Ole Miss
    The Rebels return to the courts this week with a pair of matches on the road in Waco, Texas.  First up is SMU on Saturday at 12 p.m., followed by a match against No. 7 Baylor Sunday at 1 p.m.  Associate head coach Toby Hansson will be facing his alma mater Saturday.  Hansson earned All-America honors in singles and doubles, and as captain of the team in 2000, he was named the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year and first team all-conference for both singles and doubles. During his career, Hansson was ranked as high as No. 2 in the country in doubles and No. 13 in singles for the Mustangs. He led the Mustangs to two WAC championships, three consecutive NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances and two top-15 national finishes.  Hansson graduated from SMU in 2000 with a B.A. in international studies. On Sunday, the Rebels will face Baylor for the second year in a row. Last year in Oxford, Ole Miss claimed a 4-2 victory.  Senior Johan Backstrom clinched the win at No. 5 singles.
    Mississippi State
    For the first time since 2011, the Mississippi State men’s tennis Bulldogs (9-2) took down a top-five opponent, as they defeated No. 4 Georgia, 4-3, to close out the 2014 ITA National Team Indoor Championship. The win also gave MSU its first win against the Bulldogs from Athens, Ga., since 2005, with senior Zach White delivering the clinching victory in a three-set battle. State kicked off the 2014 ITA Indoors against No. 11 California. Despite mounting an impressive rally, the Bulldogs fell just short of victory, dropping their match, 4-3. The Bulldogs also fell to No. 16 Notre Dame in their second game of the tournament before defeating 4th-ranked UGA. With the ITA Indoors complete, the Maroon and White will now travel to Montgomery, Ala., for the 2014 Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic. Following that, MSU will open SEC play at home against Alabama (Friday, Feb. 28) and Auburn (Sunday, March 2).
    South Carolina
    South Carolina returns to action this weekend, looking to reset the season with a pair of matches ahead of SEC action starting in March. Two Gamecocks are nationally ranked in singles with senior Tsvetan Mihov coming in at No. 75 behind his 11-9 overall record. Four of his wins have come over nationally ranked opponents, although he is still finding his form at the top of South Carolina’s dual-match lineup. Freshman Andrew Schafer continues to impress, moving up to No. 88 in the nation last week with his 8-1 mark in dual matches, which lifted his overall record to 15-6. Senior Chip Cox has also been consistently delivering singles points with a 7-2 dual-match record. In doubles, Mihov and junior Thiago Pinheiro combine to form the nation’s No. 39 tandem with a 13-7 overall record that includes three wins over ranked foes. The pair is 7-2 in dual matches and moved into the top spot in the Gamecocks’ lineup in the last two matches. South Carolina hosts USF on Fri., Feb. 21, before taking on San Diego on Sun., Feb. 23. The Gamecocks then dive into conference play at Texas A&M on Sun., March 2.
    The Tennessee Volunteers (10-3) finished the ITA National Team Indoor Championships with a 2-1 record. After losses to eventual finalist Southern California and Texas A&M, the Vols rallied to beat Pepperdine 4-1. Junior Mikelis Libietis collected two top-40 wins at the top of the lineup, and junior Hunter Reese beat No. 16 Yannick Hanfmann to improve to 9-0 in dual matches this spring. Now the outdoor season awaits. The Vols have the week off of competition before returning to action for SEC play against Georgia at Barksdale Stadium.
    Texas A&M
    The No. 8 Texas A&M men’s tennis team finished its most successful ITA Indoor Tennis Championship Sunday afternoon with a thrilling 4-2 victory over No. 22 Illinois. The Aggies defeated No. 14 Tennessee 4-1 Saturday afternoon in the consolation bracket after falling to No. 6 Baylor 4-3 Friday evening. The duo of Shane Vinsant and Harrison Adams had an impressive weekend winning two of three doubles matches and each registering a defeat of a top-10 opponent. Adams topped No. 8 Jared Hiltzik of Illinois Sunday, while Vinsant bested No. 9 Patrick Pradella of Baylor Friday. The Aggies take to the courts next on Friday against No. 34 Tulsa followed by a Sunday afternoon showdown with No. 7 Oklahoma.
    The 20th-ranked Commodores took on No. 18 Memphis in their lone match of the weekend. Vanderbilt picked up the 5-1 win, to improve to 7-1 on the season. The match started with the Commodores snapping the Tigers’ 14-straight doubles point wins. The point came down to a tiebreak between No. 6 Gonzales Austin and Ryan Lipman and 8th-ranked Joe Salisbury and David O’Hare. Vandy didn’t have any issues in singles play, as both Austin and Anton Kovrigin remained undefeated. The Commodores will hit the road for the first time this weekend with matches against Indiana and Michigan.