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UNCW falls in first round of NCAA tennis tourney

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ATHENS,GA (WWAY) -- The UNC Wilmington men's tennis team lost to Auburn on Friday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA men's division one tennis championship in Athens, Georgia. Auburn captured the doubles point in the morning. That meant the Tigers only needed to win three of the six singles matches to win the match. Auburn won the #1 singles and #2 singles in straight sets. That meant the remaining four singles matches all had to be won for UNC Wilmington to advance to round two of the tournament. It nearly happened as hard as that sounds. The first set of the #3, #4, #5, and #6 matches all went to UNCW. Illia Ziamtsou won #6 singles in straight sets to pull UNCW within 3-1. Unfortunately UNCW's Chris Cooprider did not hold his lead. He lost in three sets at #3 singles. That moved Auburn into the second round.

UNCW entered Friday's match ranked 39th nationally. Auburn entered the match ranked 23rd nationally.

#1 DOUBLES
Chris Cooprider/Kinshuk Sharma, UNCW lost to Auburn 8-5

#2 DOUBLES
Kosta Blank/Illia Ziamtsou, UNCW lost to Auburn 8-5

#3 DOUBLES
Michael Pereira/Alex Wetherell, UNCW were leading 7-6 when the doubles concluded

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#1 SINGLES
Kinshuk Sharma, UNCW lost to Auburn's Tim Puetz 6-2,6-1

#2 SINGLES
Michael Pereira, UNCW lost to Auburn's Alex Stamchev 6-4,6-1

#3 SINGLES
Chris Cooprider, UNCW lost to Auburn's Andries Mies 5-7,6-1,6-2

#4 SINGLES
Rafael Aita, UNCW led Auburn's Daniel Cochrane 7-5,3-6,2-1 when the match was stopped

#5 SINGLES
Kosta Blank, UNCW led Auburn's Rafael Rondino 7-6,6-7,1-0 when the match was stopped

#6 SINGLES
Illia Ziamtsou, UNCW beat Auburn's Michael Wardell 6-3,6-4

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Below we have even more information on the match courtesy UNCW Sports Information:

ATHENS, Georgia – No. 23 Auburn won the doubles point and used its strength at the top of the lineup to eliminate No. 39 UNCW, 4-1, in an opening round match of the 2011 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships early Friday at the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex.

The Tigers, an at-large entry from the Southeastern Conference, improved to 16-9 with the victory in only the second meeting between the two schools. The CAA-champion Seahawks ended their outstanding season with a 21-5 mark.

"We had our opportunity to advance today, but Auburn was just a little better,” said fourth-year UNCW coach Mait DuBois. “I will give them credit, they are a team that had a lot of tough quality matches this year and they showed their experience in the big moments.

"It’s a disappointing way to end a good year. We had a bunch of players fighting illness the past week and it definitely showed on a couple courts. Our guys played hard and I'm pleased with their effort. Auburn is very deserving of their Top 25 ranking and my hat’s off to them for how they handle themselves. "

"The saddest part of today is having to say goodbye to our four seniors. We will miss them, but I'm sure they know they left this program in a better position and we will keep moving forward on the foundation that they helped build.”

Making its 12th consecutive NCAA appearance, Auburn earned a pair of wins at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles to clinch the doubles point. The No. 2 tandem of Alex Stamchev and Andreas Mies were the first off the court after defeating UNCW’s Kosta Blank and Illia Ziamtsou, 8-5. AU’s 12th-ranked pair of Tim Puetz and Daniel Cochrane then knocked off Chris Cooprider and Kinshuk Sharma by the same score at No. 1 doubles to help the Tigers jump out to an early 1-0 lead.

The Tigers increased the score 2-0 when Puetz, ranked 12th by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), cruised past Sharma, 6-2, 6-1, at No. 1 singles, and then added another point after Stamchev defeated Michael Pereira, 6-4, 6-1, at No. 2 singles.

UNCW picked up its first point at No. 6 singles behind Ziamtsou, who handled Michael Wardell in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. With the Tigers clinging to a 3-1 advantage, the final three matches each went into three sets.

Mies dropped the first set to Chris Cooprider at No. 3 singles before rallying for a 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory to help the Tigers clinch the match and move into Saturday’s regional final against the winner of Friday’s Georgia-Samford pairing.

UNCW’s Rafael Aita (No. 4) and Kosta Blank (No. 5) were each battling opponents in the third set when their matches were halted after Mies came from behind to edge Cooprider.

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