Auburn Men's Tennis Has Best Finish in 7 Years
by Anna Schierholz/Associate Sports Editor
May 28, 2009 | 2848 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Auburn tennis players have not advanced past the quarterfinals at the NCAA Men’s Doubles Tournament in seven years.

However, the duo of Alexey Tsyrenov and Tim Puetz moved forward to the semifinals, only to fall 6-4, 6-2 to John-Patrick Smith and Davey Sandgren of the University of Tennessee Sunday.

Tsyrenov and Puetz were ranked 10th by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association entering the competition and defeated teams from the University of Southern California and the University of Georgia before losing to the third-ranked Smith and Sandgren.

“We didn’t play well in the beginning,” Puetz said. “(Tennessee) played a lot better than we did. They deserve to be in the championship round. I give them credit.”

The doubles team of Tsyrenov and Puetz, a senior and sophomore respectively, had a successful season, ending with a record of 36-12.

“Tim and I were definitely successful this season,” Tsyrenov said. “We were in the top four teams in the nation. That’s good enough for me.”

After losing the first set of the semifinal round, the team was down 2-0 in the second set before a two-hour rain delay. Head coach Eric Shore thought the duo could get the momentum back, but Puetz pulled his groin shortly after play began. Though he continued to play, he had difficulty moving on the court, giving the opponent an advantage.

“We were trying to get the momentum back,” Shore said. “We thought the break would help us, then Tim got hurt.”

In their first match in the tournament, Tsyrenov and Puetz defeated fourth-ranked doubles team Robert Farah and Steve Johnson of Southern California 6-3, 6-4. Then, moving into the quarterfinals, the team defeated Georgia’s Jamie Hunt and Nate Schnugg, a fifth ranked team, in a three set battle, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

“Alexey and I made a good team,” Puetz said. “As the year went on, we got better and better and more used to each other.”

Auburn’s top pair was the first to reach the quarterfinals since 2005, when Gabor Pelva and Alex Schweizer advanced, and the first to reach the semifinals since 2002, when Mark Kovacs and Andrew Colombo advanced and won the title.

“Alexey and Tim are a great team, one of the best Auburn has ever had. They’re right up there with Colombo and Kovacs.” Shore said.

Auburn ended the season with an overall record of 11-13, an SEC record of 4-7 and an 8-13 record against nationally ranked teams. The team won six of 10 home and two of nine away events.

“Even though we didn’t quite reach our goal of making the Sweet 16 as a team, we had a successful season,” Shore said. “We finished 21st in the nation, and we were happy with that.”

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