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April 21, 2011

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – South Carolina closed its 2010-11 season with a 4-0 loss to No. 20 Auburn in the first round of the SEC Men’s Tennis Tournament Thursday morning at Ring Tennis Complex. A pair of Gamecocks were playing in their third sets when play was suspended as the sixth-seeded Tigers clinched the team victory.

Auburn took an early 1-0 lead with the doubles point, and the advantage was quickly doubled with a win in the No. 5 singles spot. On the other five courts, however, every Gamecock was putting up a strong battle.

“Today’s was a great college tennis match,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “Our team fought extremely hard, but we came up a little short, which you have to credit to Auburn. They are a resilient team, and they showed that today.”

Freshmen Chip Cox and Jake Bowling were each up a break early in the first set in their Nos. 3 and 6 matches, respectively. Freshman Nick Jones was on serve in the No. 4 match, and sophomore Alexander Kostanov and Ivan Machado had recovered from early service breaks to get back on serve in the fourth games of their Nos. 1 and 2 contests, respectively.

Cox and Bowling each made their one break hold up and won their first sets 6-3 and 6-4, respectively. Bowling had to fight to hold his serve in the eighth game of the set, but managed to hold off Rafael Rondino. Kostanov and Machado’s comebacks were more short-lived, though, as both yielded their next service games. No. 16 Tim Puetz closed out Kostanov 6-2, while No. 118 Alexander Stamchev won his first set over Machado 6-3.

Jones, meanwhile, was continuing his solid effort, taking Dan Cochrane to a first-set tiebreaker. The Tigers’ freshman served first in the tiebreaker and took an early 4-2 lead, but Jones won four of the next five points to surge ahead 6-5 before turning the serving back over to his opponent. Cochrane eked out the next three points to win the set 7-6 (8-6).

Stamchev saw Machado erase his early service break with a break in the seventh game to put their second set back on serve at 4-3. After the Auburn junior held to go up 5-3, Machado had another fight on his hands in his next service game. Play see-sawed back and forth to deuce, but Stamchev eventually got the break for a 6-3 victory that put Auburn up 3-0.

Needing just one more point to clinch the team victory, the Tigers rallied in the second sets of the Nos. 3 and 6 matches. Tim Hewitt got a late break to win the second set against Cox 6-3, while Rondino lifted his game considerably against Bowling for a 6-1 second-set win.

Back in the No. 1 match, however, Kostanov had seized control early with a break of Puetz to go up 3-1. Cox and Bowling were on serve in their matches as well, but Jones had fallen behind Cochrane 1-2 early in the second set of the No. 4 contest. His edge held through the next four games, and the Gamecock sophomore was serving for the set against the nation’s 16th-ranked singles player. Puetz fought his was back into the set with a break at 4-5, and the match was headed to a second-set tiebreaker.

Cochrane held off Jones in the second set, adding a second service break for a 6-3 win that sent Auburn into the tournament’s second round against third-seeded Kentucky. With the match decided, the other three matches were suspended.

No. 20 Auburn 4, South Carolina 0

Doubles (Order of Finish: 2, 3)
1. Dan Cochrane/Tim Puetz (AU) led Alexander Kostanov / Chip Cox (SC) 6-4 suspended
2. (69) Andreas Mies/Alexander Stamchev (AU) def. Nick Jones / Ivan Machado (SC) 8-3
3. Lucas Lopasso/Rafael Rondino (AU) def. Harry Menzies / Chris Sheehan (SC) 8-5

Singles (Order of Finish: (5, 2, 4)
1. (16) Tim Puetz (AU) led Alexander Kostanov (SC) 6-2, 6-6 (5-1) suspended
2. (118) Alexander Stamchev (AU) def. Ivan Machado (SC) 6-3, 6-3
3. Chip Cox (SC) led Tim Hewitt (AU) 6-3, 3-6, 3-1 suspended
4. Dan Cochrane (AU) def. Nick Jones (SC) 7-6 (6), 6-3
5. Andreas Mies (AU) def. Harry Menzies (SC) 6-0, 6-0
6. Rafael Rondino (AU) led Jake Bowling (SC) 4-6, 6-1, 3-2 suspended