May 25, 2005
College Station, Texas – USC junior Tom Eklund was eliminated from the 2005 NCAA Men’s Tennis Singles Championships on Wednesday afternoon at the Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station, Texas. Eklund, who became the 16th Gamecock to be invited to the singles tournament, was knocked out with a 6-4, 6-4 loss to 11th-ranked Benjamin Kohlloeffel of the 2005 NCAA team champions, UCLA.
USC’s Eklund, who was named First Team All-SEC earlier this season, opened with the serve in both sets against Kohlloeffel. The UCLA sophomore, who defeated defending NCAA Singles Champion Benjamin Becker of Baylor at No. 2 singles in Tuesday night’s team final, was able to earn two service breaks, and that was all he would need to end Eklulnd’s hopes of becoming USC’s 11th All-American. The Carolina junior, who needed just one more win to tie his career high of 23 singles wins (set in 2004), failed to hold serve in the seventh game of each set, and was unable to earn a break to get back on serve in either of the two sets.
The Hollviken, Sweden native ends his season with a singles record of 22-16, and along with doubles partner Jaime Cuellar, a team-best 16-14 doubles mark. 2005 is the second straight season that Eklund has been a part of the team’s best doubles duo, after paring with Marcus Westman to go 15-12 a year ago.
Two other Gamecocks remain in the NCAA Doubles Championships, as sophomore Pedro Rodrigues and junior Geraldo Knorr will take on Thomas Shoeck and Luke Shields of Boise State. USC’s all-Brazilian duo is currently ranked 23rd in the country by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, while the Bronco’s pair is unseeded, but ranked 11th in the nation. The winner, barring an upset, will likely take on seeded and sixth-ranked Mark Growcott and Ken Skupski of LSU.
The bottom half of the doubles draw, where Rodrigues and Knorr reside, is loaded with talent. Not only does the LSU duo loom large in front of Carolina’s No. 1 doubles team, but No. 8 Hamid Mirzadeh and Greg Ouellette of Florida, as well as third-ranked and second-seeded KC Corkery and Sam Warburg of Stanford are in the way of USC’s duo and the national final.
Rodrigues and Knorr’s match with Shoeck and Shields is set to start no earlier than 2 p.m. (ET) Thursday, and likely well after that, pending the completion of the Round of 32 singles matches taking place Thursday morning. Live stats for all singles and doubles matches are available on the official tournament website, ncaatennis.tamu.edu.
NCAA Singles Championships: Round of 64
(#11) Benjamin Kohlloeffel [9-16], UCLA def. (#35) Tom Eklund, USC 6-4, 6-4
Time of Match: 1:42
Parentheses indicate current national ranking (ITA)
Bracket indicates seed in Doubles Championship