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    Saturday SEC Tennis Report

    Tennessee Wins First Leg of Doubleheader

    KNOXVILLE -- The Vols opened their Saturday doubleheader with a 4-0 victory over Oklahoma State at Goodfriend Tennis Center.
    After winning a closely contested doubles point, Tennessee (3-0) won first sets on all six courts and the pieces started falling into place after that.
     
    Junior Jarryd Chaplin was first off the court with a 6-1, 6-1 victory on court 3 against OSU's Matt Campbell. Sophomore Brandon Fickey followed a few minutes later with a 6-1, 6-1 win against Denys Pume on court 4.
     
    Several Vols were coming to the end of their matches, but senior John Collins got the honor of clinching the UT victory, beating Richard Del Nunzio 6-2, 6-4 on court 4. A transfer from Maryland, it was Collins' first clinching win in orange and white.
     
    Tennessee plays Belmont at 2 p.m.



    South Carolina Opens Doubleheader with Win

    COLUMBIA, S.C. - No. 39 South Carolina turned in a workman-like 6-1 win over Furman Saturday morning at the USC Field House. The Gamecocks overwhelmed the Paladins in doubles action, yielding just four games over the two wins. In singles, Thiago Pinheiro and Tsvetan Mihov set the tone with dominant performances, and Kyle Koch clinched the win with his straight-set victory in the No. 3 spot.
     
    The Gamecocks won the doubles point behind a dominant performance by Thiago Pinheiro and Ben Barnette in the No. 3 spot. The duo posted an 8-0 win over Luke Synn and Jacob Behal behind solid play in all aspects of the game. In the No. 1 doubles match, Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov scored an early break to go up 2-1 as both were returning the ball well against Furman's Andrew Mellow and Joel Cook. South Carolina got another break to go up 6-3, sealed by a cross-court backhand from Mihov that found the alley on break point. Cox and Mihov cruised through the final games for the 8-4 victory.
     
    South Carolina kept the pressure on in singles action with Pinheiro closing out Behal 6-2, 6-1 in the No. 4 spot. The Gamecock sophomore broke Behal's serve to open each set and never let up with relentless pressure from the baseline. Mihov was equally efficient in the No. 1 match, also breaking serve to kick off each set. He wore down Mellow in the second set as his footwork and good hands at the net keyed his 6-2, 6-0 victory. 
     
    Furman got on the board with a win in the No. 2 match. Alex Christ eked out a tiebreaker in the first set over Cox and got up a break early in the second en route to a 7-6 (4), 6-3 win.
     
    On Court 3, Kyle Koch clinched the Gamecock victory with a solid 6-2, 6-4 win over Joel Cook. South Carolina's sophomore went up a break at 4-2 and won the first set when a solid return left Cook to play a drop shot that did not clear the net. The two stayed on serve throughout the second set until Koch broke at 5-4 to win the match.
     
    Harry Menzies was dominant at No. 5 singles defeating Matt Brown 6-2, 6-0 and giving the Gamecocks a 5-1 lead. Ben Barnette provided the final point for South Carolina after a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Ben Horst at No. 6 singles.



    Alabama Opens Season With Pair of Sweeps

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The men's tennis team began the 2013 dual-match season with a pair of 7-0 victories over Alabama State and Jackson State on Saturday at the Roberta Alison Baumgardner Tennis Facility. The Crimson Tide won four of the six doubles matches, while the other two were suspended once the point was clinched, and took all 12 singles matches in straight sets.
     
    In the morning match against Alabama State, Alabama senior Jarryd Botha and freshman Becker O'Shaughnessey cruised out to an early lead over Hornet sophomore Bobby Brand and senior Alexis Pierre to eventually win the match, 8-2. Senior Harris Barnard and sophomore Stuart Kenyon would clinch the point for the Tide with an 8-1 decision over Alabama State freshmen Julian Cseszko and Roderick Williams, 8-1.
     
    In singles, Kenyon posted the first win for Alabama with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Williams, which was followed by a 6-0, 6-1 victory for 79th-ranked Botha over Brand. Junior Daniil Proskura would clinch the team victory for Alabama on court three as he downed Hornet freshman Jerred Thompson, 6-1, 6-1. From there, O'Shaughnessey would post a 6-1, 6-1 win over Pierre followed by a 6-0, 6-2 victory for sophomore Philippe Tsangarides over sophomore Stefan Vojnic. Barnard completed the first sweep of the day for the Tide with a 6-3, 6-2 decision over Cseszko.
     
    Alabama made quick work of Jackson State in doubles as well as Tsangarides and junior Carlos Taborga shut out freshmen Hernan Reines and Ernesto Morales, 8-0, before Botha and O'Shaughnessey clinched the point with an 8-2 victory over junior Carlos Martinez and freshman Camilo Patino.
     
    Botha was first to finish in singles, this time playing on court two, as he downed Luque, 6-1, 6-0. Barnard and Tsangarides would finish within seconds of each other on courts six and four, respectively, securing the team victory for the Tide. Next to finish was O'Shaughnessey on court one as he topped Patino, 6-0, 6-1, which was followed by a 6-0, 6-2 win for Proskura on court three. Kenyon closed out the match with a pair of late breaks to complete the sweep for Alabama with a 6-1, 7-5 decision over Morales on court five.
     
    Next up, the Tide will head to Winston Salem, N.C., for the Wake Forest Spring Invite, which will take place Jan. 26-27.
     
    You can find more news on the men's tennis team by liking the Tide on Facebook or following the team on Twitter @AlabamaMTN.



    Florida Handles In-State Rival Miami

    The No. 12 Florida men’s tennis team beat Miami, 5-2, on Saturday at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex, giving new head coach Bryan Shelton a win in his Gator debut. UF took the doubles point and had singles wins from the top four positions to earn the victory.
     
    “This is the fun part of the season for us, to go out there and compete against the other teams as a team,” said Coach Shelton. “In the first one, you hope the guys are going to respond the right way and compete the right way and represent the Florida Gators the right way. I thought our guys did a good job of that today from top to bottom.”
     
    Florida opened up with solid doubles play on all three courts. The pair of Billy Federhofer (North Miami, Fla.) and Gordon Watson (Naples, Fla.) beat Miami’s Omar Aly and William Albanese on court two, 8-1. Minutes later, Michael Alford (Tampa, Fla.) and Florent Diep (Paris, France) clinched the doubles point for UF with an 8-2 win on court one over Wilfredo Gonzales and Marco Stancati.
     
    “[Flo and I] have been working really hard in practice every day and just trying to get better,” said Alford. “Today we just tried to execute on some of the things that we’d been working on in practice and today I think we both played well.”
     
    The remaining match on court three was halted when the doubles point was clinched, but the Gators’ Luke Johnson and Stephane Piro led 7-3 over Miami’s Diego Soto and Henrique Tsukamoto.
     
    “We want to play aggressive doubles,” said Shelton. “We want to get forward to the net so we’re serve-and-volleying on serve; we’re attacking second serves and trying to get forward. We’re trying to be very active at the net and make things happen rather than being passive and letting them happen. It’s just an offensive mentality.
     
    “That’s our style of play and something we’re just going to continue to work on to get better as we go along. I think it’s a more fun way to play doubles. Guys are enjoying it, they’re having fun with it, and I think they’re developing as players. They’re learning new skills up there at the net. Most players tend to stay at the baseline and our guys are always moving forward.”
     
    In singles, Florida took control early, winning the first set on five of six courts. Alford was the first to get off the courts, beating Aly, 6-0, 6-3, at No. 3 singles.
     
    “Mike is a guy that makes very few unforced errors and he can also hurt you when he goes on offense,” Coach Shelton said. “That’s a good combination of not giving away points and being stingy out there. But at the same time, he takes his opportunities when they’re there to step up and get to the net and finish. I thought he did a nice job of that today.”
     
    On court two, Piro broke serve to win the first set, 6-3, then breezed in the second set, winning 6-1. It was Piro’s first dual match for the Gators after having to sit out for the past year.
     
    “Steph’s an artist. He has that flair out there,” said Shelton. “He’s a bit of a shot-maker and a bit of a showman, so we just have to make sure that he’s disciplined at the right times, and then we let him create when the score is right. We give him a little bit of room to be the artist. He just has a really good feel for the game.”
     
    Watson, playing on court four, clinched the match with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Victor Mauz. After exchanging breaks to start the match, Watson broke again to go up 3-2. Both players held serve from that point and Watson took the set, 6-4. In the second set, Watson broke serve three times to earn the victory and clinch the match for Florida.
     
    “Gordon, I thought, continued his form from last week [at the Three Oaks Shootout],” said Shelton. “It seems like he’s getting better each outing. I’m excited about where he’s going with his game. He has an idea about how to play the game now, how to serve his way out of trouble at times, and he’s looking to get forward to the net and make plays.”
     
    Florida’s final point came from Diep, playing at the top singles position against Soto. After Diep coasted to a 6-0 first set, Soto bounced back and took a 5-3 lead in the second set after winning four straight games. Diep held his next serve and then broke serve to even the set at 5-5. Both players held serve the next two games and Diep pulled out the tiebreaker, winning the match 6-0, 7-6 (4).
     
    “I thought I played pretty good at the beginning, really aggressive, I didn’t miss much, a lot of first serves,” said Diep. “I was in my game plan. Everything was OK. Then I wasn’t focused as much and started to miss a little bit. I lost one or two close games, then I started to think more and I lost four games in a row and was down 5-3 in the second set. I kept fighting and came back to win 7-6 in the second set.”
     
    Miami won the final two matches, as Gabriel Flores beat Federhofer, 6-4, 6-3, at No. 5 singles and Albanese pulled out a three set win over Johnson on court six, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
     
    The Gators will return to action with a mid-week match against UCF on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Linder Stadium, while also hosting the ITA Kickoff Weekend next Saturday and Sunday with St. John’s, South Alabama and UNC-Wilmington coming to town.



    Arkansas Notches Two Wins

    HOUSTON, Texas. - The No. 36 University of Arkansas women's tennis team opened their spring schedule on Saturday in impressive fashion, earning a pair of 7-0 victories. The Razorbacks defeated Prairie View A&M and UT - Pan American at the Galleria Tennis and Athletic Club in Houston, Texas. The two shutout victories gave the Razorbacks a 2-0 record to begin the season.  
     
    Arkansas opened the day with a 7-0 win over Prairie View A&M. The Razorbacks swept the three doubles matches to clinch the doubles point, and then won all six singles matches. New additions Flavia Araujo, Brittany Huxley, and Segou Jonker all earned their first collegiate singles and doubles victories in the match. Huxley had an especially strong performance in her singles debut, as she did not lose a game in singles against the Panthers, earning a strong 6-0, 6-0 victory. 
     
    In the second match of the day, Arkansas had another strong performance. The duos of Claudine 
    Paulson / Segou Jonker and Ana Lorena Belmar Hernandez/Brittany Huxley earned doubles victories to earn the doubles point. The Razorbacks again swept all six singles matches to earn a shutout 7-0 victory over the Broncs. 
     
    "Overall I'm pleased with the level of play for our first spring dual matches," Arkansas head coach Michael Hegarty said. "It was very nice to get two solid victories on the same day and we will look to take a step forward tomorrow."
     
    Head Coach Michael Hegarty currently has 123 career wins at Arkansas. With two matches tomorrow, Hegarty can pass Kevin Platt (124 wins) for the record for career wins as the Arkansas women's tennis coach. 
     
    The Razorbacks continue play this weekend with two matches against Lamar. Arkansas begins play on Sunday at 10 a.m.



    South Carolina Sweeps Doubleheader

    COLUMBIA, S.C. -- No. 39 South Carolina swept Appalachian State 5-0 in the second half of Saturday's doubleheader at the USC Field House. The Gamecocks (4-0) powered past the Mountaineers in doubles action with two dominating 8-2 victories. In singles, Harry Menzies and Chip Cox got the Gamecocks off to a strong start each winning two quick sets, and Kyle Koch and Tsvetan Mihov simultaneously clinched the win.
     
    "Doubleheaders are tough," South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. "It's a mental grind and a long day for everybody involved. But, that's the whole point of it. There's a long road ahead that we have to tackle. Singles in the second match is the toughest stretch. It's the fourth quarter basically, and it's the longest stretch to the very end. Our guys played very well and had good energy. At the end of the day, I'm very happy."
     
    South Carolina took the doubles point with powerful performances from Koch and Menzies in the No. 2 spot and Thiago Pinheiro and Ben Barnette in the No. 3 spot. Menzies and Koch provided the first result for the Gamecocks with an 8-2 victory over Steve Karendal and Andrew McKinnon. In the No. 2 match, the teams traded service breaks to open the match, and the Gamecocks then won seven of the next eight games to secure the victory. Pinheiro and Barnette also traded service breaks to open their match against Robert Jenkins and Steve Lake. The Gamecocks then stormed through the next six games and finished with an 8-2 victory to clinch the doubles point. Mihov and Cox were locked at 5-5 against Sebastian King and Zach Bost when play was suspended.
     
    The Gamecocks continued the momentum from the doubles victory into singles action with Menzies quickly overpowering Matt Saltsgaver at No. 4 singles to increase the lead to 2-0. The senior opened the match with a service break and won the next two games, setting the pace to win 6-1, 6-1. In No. 2 singles, Cox also had a strong showing, defeating Karendal 6-1, 6-2. Each held serve to open the match before Cox won the next five games in the first set.
     
    Action on Courts 1 and 4 was a little tighter, but ultimately ended in two more South Carolina victories. Koch was dominant in his first set, starting off with a 3-0 lead to defeat Bost 6-1. The Gamecock sophomore was down early in the second set but fought back to force a tiebreaker and secure the win 7-6 (2). Mihov finished at No. 1 singles at the same time as Koch to give the Gamecocks a 5-0 win. Mihov and King were fairly evenly matched throughout both sets until Mihov broke out at the end of each, winning 6-3, 6-3.
     
    The Gamecocks travel to Lexington, Ky., for ITA Kickoff Weekend Jan. 25-26 and will return to action in Columbia, Sat., Feb. 2, for another doubleheader at the USC Field House.