AUBURN, Ala. (April 22,2022) - Today, it was a three-set win by all-SEC junior Tyler Stice that propelled No. 30 Auburn men's tennis to a 4-2 quarterfinal victory over No. 9 South Carolina Friday in the SEC tournament at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
"This is the first time that we've lost the doubles point and won the match; we rely on our doubles point. I think every school does, and we've been successful on that the entire year. Some of the times when we don't win, we kind of lose that steam. They didn't today, and that shows that they're growing. We're a young team, and we just continue to build," Auburn head coach Bobby Reynolds said of the first To 10 win of his tenure.
"It just shows what our guys are willing to fight for and never give up no matter what the score is. I told them at the beginning, and I told them in the middle between singles and doubles, 'You have to go enjoy it, and if you go out and enjoy it, good things can happen.' All six courts, they looked like they fought, and they enjoyed the entire fight."
The Gamecocks captured the doubles point with wins on courts two (6-1), and three (6-3). The singles competition started more evenly, with each team taking three of six first sets, and Finn Murgett put Auburn's initial point on the scoreboard with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over James Story on court four, Murgett's 20th singles win of year and 10th against SEC competition.
Spencer Gray, moving into the lineup on line six, tied the match for the Tigers with a decisive 7-6 (5), 6-2 victory over Carter Morgan to make the team score 2-2 with all remaining matches into a third set.
Freshman Will Nolan gave the Tigers a 3-2 advantage as he took down the Gamecocks' Casey Hoole 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 on court five, setting up Stice for today's dramatic finish.
Facing the nation's No. 2-ranked player in Daniel Rodrigues, Stice came up short in the first set 6-4, but kept fighting to steamroll through the second set with a 6-1 score. With the match tied 3-3, Stice kept at his craft to post a 6-3 win and send the Tigers to the semifinals.
"Obviously, it feels unreal," Stice said of his match-clinching victory. "The first set was very close. I felt like there were just a couple points here and there that I lost at deuce, and that's really what defined the set. I just stuck with it, took it point by point, came back, and eventually won. It's taken a long time to get to this point. This is my third year here now. The ship is slowly starting to turn with wins like this."
The Tigers face third-seeded No. 11 Kentucky (20-6, 10-2) Saturday in the semifinals at 10 a.m. CT; that match will be televised by SEC Network+, and Sunday's championship match will air live on the SEC Network.
Auburn is 20-9 for the spring season and finished 5-7 in SEC play; this is Auburn's first 20-win season since 2002. The Tigers are ranked No. 30 in the latest ITA team ratings and No. 25 in the Tennis Channel/USTA Top 25. No. 9 South Carolina is 21-6 overall and went 10-2 in SEC play.