Touliatos v TAM

Preston Tuoliatos returns a volley in his match against Texas A&M on Mar. 23, 2018.

On Friday, the No. 19 Tennessee men’s tennis team returned home after a successful victory against the No. 14-ranked Georgia Bulldogs in Athens to face upset-minded Auburn, winless so far in the SEC.

Though the Tigers put up a valiant fight, Tennessee was able to hold resolute and down the Tigers 6-1 to improve to 6-2 in the SEC and 17-5 overall.

“You always have to play a bit different in conditions like this,” sophomore Scott Jones said. “Where I’m from back in Australia, it’s really windy, so it didn’t have too much of an effect for me.”

Despite the chilly and windy, and previously rainy, conditions, all matches were played outside at Barksdale Stadium.

Earlier in the week, head coach Chris Woodruff had hammered home the point that he did not want his squad to sleep on the beleaguered Tigers. He was very pleased with how his team responded on Friday.

“I think doubles was good because it gave us a wake-up call,” Woodruff said. “Auburn came to play, and we easily could have lost the doubles point.”

As usual, play began with doubles matches. The freshman duo of Nicaise Muamba and Andrew Rogers got the day started off on the right foot for Tennessee, dominating the Auburn team of Diego Chavarria and Lorenzo Joaquin Rodriguez 6-0.

However, the other Tennessee duos were not able to dispatch of their opponents as quickly. The team of Timo Stodder and Adam Walton became entangled in a 6-6 tie breaker with Auburn’s Matteo De Vincentis and Carles Sarrio. After a back and forth battle in every set leading up to the tie breaker, the Tennessee duo was able to easily dispatch Auburn 7-3 to secure the doubles point for the Vols.

The No. 15-ranked duo of Preston Touliatos and Luis Valero’s match went unfinished.

Tennessee got the ball rolling early during singles play. Touliatos, who has made a large step for Tennessee this season, was the first Vol to secure victory. Playing on court four, the redshirt junior was able to easily dispatch Auburn’s Sarrio six games to one in the first set.

In the second set, Touliatos struggled a bit more with Sarrio, but was still able to extend Tennessee’s overall lead to 2-0 with a 6-4 victory.

“I thought Preston (Touliatos) did a really good job,” Woodruff said. “I thought Preston did a great job with his energy, especially with the way he ended the match was really strong.”

Luca Wiedenmann was next for Tennessee, and the outcome of his match was never really in question. After winning the first set 6-3, Wiedenmann turned in an impressive six-games-to-one performance to take the second set and put Tennessee within one match of victory against Auburn.

Enter Scott Jones.

After almost giving up a 5-2 lead in the first set, allowing Auburn’s Tad Maclean to win two games before putting him away 6-4, Jones was able to easily pick up a 6-2 second-set triumph, sealing Tennessee’s overall win against the Tigers.

The rest of Tennessee’s squad with unfinished matches would still play through. Stodder was able to overcome Edward Nguyen (7-5, 6-3) and Walton got past Olle Thestrup of Auburn (6-4, 6-4), while Valero fell to De Vincentis (7-6, 7-6).

The Vols return home for their next contest on Sunday as they welcome the No. 12 Mississippi State Bulldogs to Knoxville. Play is set to begin at 1 p.m. at the Goodfriend Tennis Center.

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