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Hogs Drop Close One to No. 17 Auburn, 4-3

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Hogs Drop Close One to No. 17 Auburn, 4-3

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A near capacity crowd was present as Arkansas jumped back into SEC play without missing a beat against the No. 17 Auburn Tigers in a Friday afternoon showdown that saw the Razorbacks lose the doubles point and fight from behind in a 4-3 loss.

Even though his team lost, head coach Robert Cox was pleased with their performance on the day.

” What a great dual match that was,” Cox said. “I’m very disappointed that we didn’t close out on of the last three matches, but that’s what big time tennis is all about. You’ve got to take advantage of when you have the momentum and you’ve got to close these guys out.

“I’m real pleased with the way that we’re playing. We’re competing as hard as anybody, but Auburn just stood toe-to-toe with us today. We gave them our best shot and I think we knocked them down to the mat. Unfortunately, they got up and finished us off. They’re a good team and they held their composure. We threw it all at them and I’m real proud of my guys.”

In doubles, the Razorbacks played some of their best tennis all year long, winning the number three, 8-6, losing the number two, 8-6, and forcing a tiebreaker at number one where they eventually lost.

Number three found Rohan Gajjar and Talley Parker getting shut out in the first game by Gabor Pelva and Markus Schiller, to go down 1-0. Gajjar held serve in the second to knot it up at one all. Auburn would come back and hold to go up 2-1. Parker holds to tie at two a piece. Auburn held to go up 3-2. Arkansas holds to tie at three. Auburn holds to go up 4-3. This match would be tight as there were no breaks through 12 games. Arkansas would get the first break to go up 7-6 and then serve for the match. With Gajjar at the service line, the Razorbacks would find themselves locked in a battle. The Hogs would close it out to get their first doubles win on the day.

An exciting match at number two doubles would see Aleksey Bubis and Matt Roberts falling to the Auburn duo of Rameez Junaid and Rodrigo Minozzo. A close match the entire way, the Hogs were facing elimination 5-7. Bubis and Roberts rode the emotion of the crowd to hold and get back in the match at 6-7. With Auburn serving, the Hogs were unable to hold on, hitting a shot too long to lose the match 8-6.

The deciding match would be at the number one doubles slot. A first game deuce saw Auburn’s Andy Colombo and Tom George hold to go up 1-0 at number one, but Eduardo Pacheco would hold serve to tie the match back up. Down 5-2, the Hogs were struggling. Nathan Price and Pacheco found it within themselves to play solid tennis and get back in the match, eventually knotting the match up at six. Auburn would eventually hold serve to go up 7-6 and return service to the Razorbacks. The Hogs would fight from behind and tie the match up at eight a piece and force a tiebreaker.

Auburn would win the first two points, followed by an Arkansas point. Down 3-1, the Razorbacks were the recipients of another point forced by a double fault. Price would serve and return a volley inches too deep to slip further behind the Tigers, 4-2. Down 6-3, Pacheco would regain serve and the Hogs would register another point. Auburn would win the tiebreaker, 7-4, and get the doubles point.

Just as they have all season, the razorbacks would again look to singles for points and a match win. Cox switched his line up, swapping Pacheco and Adrians Zguns at the three at four positions as a result of Zguns recent playing.

Gajjar looked to keep his winning streak alive against George at the five position. Gajjar’s tough play continued and he won the first set, 6-1. In his second set, Gajjar would continue his dominance, getting out to a 5-3 lead in the second set, serving for the match at deuce. A botched return on the part of George would give Gajjar the match and tie the score at one each. The win moved Gajjar to 9-0 on the season and 2-0 in the SEC.

At the number two position, Bubis would get on top of Colombo early in the first set, going up 4-0. Two matches later, Bubis got back on track and close out the set at 6-2. Tied at six in the second, a tiebreaker was needed. Colombo won the first two points and the Bubis got on the board and would be on serve. Ahead 4-3, Bubis would continue his service. A fall allowed Colombo to return a shot uncontested to tie it up at four. Bubis redeemed himself with a point before Colombo regained service. Bubis would then win the next two points to win the match, 6-2, 7-6(5), and put the Razorbacks up 2-1.

Court four saw Pacheco win his first match, 6-4, and then get up early in the second and never look back. Pacheco defeated Schiller, 6-4, 6-4, and the Hogs now led 3-1.

At court three, Zguns won the first set over Pelva, getting a break in the eleventh game to go up 6-5 and then held at 7-5. Zguns would fall in the second set, 6-3. It looked as if Zguns would mount a comeback in the third set, but Pelva proved to be too strong, winning the match, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2. With the win, Auburn forced Arkansas to continue to have to play.

Price would drop the first set quickly to Junaid at the one position, falling 6-1. The complexion of the match would change in the second set as Price got on top, 4-2. He would go on to win the second set to force a three set match, 6-3. In the third set, Price won the first game and then lost the next two. Down 2-1, Price would eventually tie things up at five all. Emotions began to soar not only on the court but also in the stands, as this was one of two matches that could decide the team result. Unfortunately for the Razorbacks, Junaid proved tough in the latter stages of the match to win and knot things up at three a piece.

Matt Roberts fought through a tough match against Rodrigo Minozzo on six – as this would be the deciding match. The first set found Minozzo winning, 7-5. Pushed forward by a faithful cheering section, Roberts turned the match around in the second set to force a third, winning 6-3. In the third, Roberts’ strong second set play faded as he fell, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, resulting in Auburn winning the match.

Auburn coach Eric Shore was happy to get out of Fayetteville with the win.

“This was a great match,” Shore said. “For us it didn’t look good, down 3-1. We never quit. For us to win indoors against a really good Arkansas team on their courts says a lot about us. We’re growing up. They’ve got a great team and indoors are very, very tough. We’re lucky to get out of here with a win, but we fought hard and we earned it.”

With the win, Auburn won the dual match and moved to 7-1 on the season and 1-0 in the SEC. Arkansas fell to 8-4 and 1-1 in conference play. The Hogs next match is Sunday when they take on SEC West foe Alabama in a 1:00 p.m. start.

No. 27 Arkansas, No. 17 Auburn
Feb. 28 – Fayetteville
SINGLES
1. Rameez Junaid (AU) def. Nathan Price, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5
2. Aleksey Bubis (AR) def. Andy Colombo, 6-2, 7-6(5)
3. Gabor Pelva (AU) def. Adrians Zguns 5-7, 6-3, 6-2
4. Eduardo Pacheco (AR) def. Markus Schiller, 6-4, 6-4
5. Rohan Gajjar (AR) def. Tom George, 6-1, 6-3
6. Rodrigo Minozzo (AU) def. Matt Roberts, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3

DOUBLES
1. Colombo/George (AU) def. Price/Pacheco, 9-8(4)
2. No. 39 Junaid/Minozzo (AU) def. Bubis/Roberts, 8-6
3. Talley Parker/Gajjar (AR) def. Pelva/Schiller, 8-6



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