Oct. 6, 2005
Tulsa, Okla. – South Carolina senior tennis player Tom Eklund suffered two tough losses on the opening day of the 2005 Polo-Ralph Lauren All-American Championships in Tulsa, Okla. Eklund, ranked 15th by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, fell in straight sets to 28th-ranked Shannon Buck of Air Force in the tournament’s first round and then was eliminated in three sets by Eric Langenkamp of Notre Dame at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Tulsa.
Eklund, participating in his first collegiate action of the 2005-06 school year, went down 6-2, 6-2 to Buck in morning action at the Case Tennis Center. Despite his No. 28 ranking by the ITA, Buck has a history of quality wins in the All-American Championships. This his third straight appearance in the tournament, and in each of his previous attempts he has upset a Top 10 seed (eigth-seeded Jesse Witten in 2003, third-seeded Witten in 2004). Buck knocked off Arkansas’ number one player, 31st-ranked Rohan Gajjar, in the second round, and will face a qualifier, 101st-ranked Matt Bruch of Stanford, in Friday’s third round.
In the afternoon match, Eklund stepped up his efforts, and took the first set against No. 89 Langenkamp, 6-4. In the second set, Eklund looked set to move on to the second round of the consolation bracket and led 4-1 and 5-3 with match points, but could not hang on and fell in a 12-point tiebreaker, 7-6(5). However, the fifth set of the day would be too much for Eklund, and Langenkamp advanced with a 6-1 win in the deciding set.
“This was Tom’s first tournament of the year and I’m not at all worried about it,” said USC Head Coach Kent DeMars. “He’ll play next weekend [the USC Fall Invitational], continue to improve through the fall, and be ready to go when we need him in January. You can’t get too excited about results in the fall, they don’t mean too much. The spring season and team matches are when it really counts.”
The All-American Championships are the first major collegiate tournament of the fall season and that was evident with only six of the 16 seeded players advancing through the first two rounds, with the bottom half of the draw having just one seeded player remaining (4th-seeded John Isner of Georgia).
Eklund and the Gamecocks return to action next weekend, Oct. 14-16 when they host the annual USC Fall Invitational. The tournament begins at 8 a.m. Friday morning and runs through the weekend, with action taking place at the Sam Daniel’s Tennis Center (men’s varsity courts), the Maxcy-Gregg Tennis Center (women’s varsity courts), and the Columbia Tennis Center. Stay tuned to www.uscsports.com for further details on the tournament as they become available in the coming week.