TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – No. 34 South Carolina had the lead throughout the day in a 4-1 win over No. 26 Alabama at Alabama Tennis Stadium Sunday afternoon. The win gave the Gamecocks (13-7, 3-3 SEC) their first SEC weekend sweep since April 2006, and, with six regular-season matches left on the schedule, South Carolina’s three SEC wins are already the most since 2009. Sophomore Kyle Koch continued his strong play on Sunday, posting another win over a ranked doubles team and making it a 3-0 South Carolina lead with a straight-set win at No. 5 singles. Andrew Adams clinched the match with a comeback, three-set victory in the No. 2 spot in the singles lineup.
The Gamecocks were out the gate quickly with the Nos. 1 and 2 doubles teams scoring early service breaks to lead 3-1 on both courts. Koch and Menzies faced their third ranked opponent in as many matches in the No. 2 spot, taking on No. 75 Becker O’Shaughnessey and Daniil Proskura. The Gamecock tandem used its 3-1 lead as a springboard, allowing the Crimson Tide duo just one more game before winning the last three to score a commanding 8-2 victory. At the top of the order, No. 50 Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov were similarly effective against No. 72 Jarryd Botha and David Vieyra. South Carolina led 5-1 before the Crimson Tide won the next two games. The Gamecocks stopped the momentum right there, though, winning the next three games to clinch the doubles point with the 8-3 victory.
In singles, it was Cox setting the pace, storming to a quick 6-1 first set win over Vieyra in the No. 4 match. Shortly afterward, his doubles partner Mihov scored a break to go up on No. 58 Botha 5-3 at the top of the lineup. Koch was locked in a battle with Philippe Tsangarides in the No. 5 match, but the Gamecock sophomore broke a 5-5 tie with consecutive games to claim his first set 7-5.
The Crimson Tide won the first sets in the other three matches – Nos. 2, 3 and 5 – but the Gamecocks continued to fight. Cox wrapped up his first SEC win of the season with a 6-3 second set that put South Carolina up 2-0, and Koch followed quickly with a matching second-set score to make it a 3-0 advantage.
Meanwhile, senior Harry Menzies was the first of the other three matches to mount his comeback, taking a 3-1 lead in his second set against Stuart Kenyon in the No. 6 match. Thiagon Pinheiro and Andrew Adams were close behind, scoring service breaks to establish 5-2 leads in their second sets. Adams finished off his second set 6-3 over Proskura, and Menzies was right behind with a 6-4 second-set win. Pinheiro completed the trio’s comeback sweep with a 6-4 second over No. 79 O’Shaughnessey in the No. 3 match.
At the top of the lineup, though, the match was going in the other direction. After Mihov had a 5-1 lead in the second set, Botha was rallying, winning the next five games to hold off the Gamecock victory. Fortunately, Adams and Pinheiro were rolling as both scored early service breaks in their third sets. Adams was up 3-1 by the time Pinheiro started his third set, which also began with a service break to establish a 3-0 lead right out of the gate. While Menzies eventually fell to Kenyon 6-3 in the third set to allow the Crimson Tide to get on the board, Adams kept his foot on the gas. Proskura won just one more game before the Gamecock sophomore closed out the victory 6-2. Pinheiro was up 5-1 in his third set when play was suspended.
Sixth-Ranked Bulldogs Upend No. 4 Kentucky, 4-2
LEXINGTON, Ky.-----The sixth-ranked Georgia men’s tennis team capped an impressive weekend by knocking off fourth-ranked Kentucky, 4-2, Sunday afternoon at the Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington.
The Bulldogs (14-4, 6-1 SEC) entered the weekend tied with Vanderbilt and Kentucky atop the SEC Eastern Division, and notched road wins over both teams to gain sole possession of first place in the overall league standings. Georgia’s remaining conference schedule includes home matches against Texas A&M, Auburn and Alabama, and road contests at LSU and Arkansas. Texas A&M is currently the only other league team with fewer than two SEC losses.
“It was a really good win by our guys today,” said UGA coach Manuel Diaz. “We played a very good doubles point. I think we got back to doing a few things we had gotten away from. Our two and three teams got back on track and played well. It was great to see us have the belief and willingness to fight it out.”
With the win, Georgia also avenged an earlier loss to Kentucky in the ITA National Indoor Tournament in February. Sunday’s match was also played indoors due to inclement weather in Lexington.
The Bulldogs won the doubles point for the early 1-0 lead. The fifth-ranked team of Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland defeated No. 23 Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai, 8-6, then the No. 39 team of Garrett Brasseaux and Nathan Pasha clinched the point at No. 2 with an 8-6 win over Ryuji Hirooka and Alejandro Gomez, 8-6. The match at No. 3 was abandoned with the score tied at 6-6.
Georgia started off singles competition with a win at No. 3 as 39th-ranked Pasha cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 win over Gomez. Kentucky responded at No. 1 where 31st-ranked Rossi beat No. 7 KU Singh, 6-3, 6-3, then Georgia answered back at No. 5 as Pieters rolled to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Lai.
The Wildcats (16-6, 4-3 SEC) cut the Georgia lead to 3-2 after Wagland was outlasted by Tom Jomby in three sets, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-2. That set the stage for freshman Austin Smith to clinch his second match of the weekend. The Cumming, Ga., native prevailed in a three-set battle with Grant Roberts at No. 4, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3. Smith broke Roberts’ serve to take a 5-3 lead in the third set, then went on to clinch his fourth match of the season.
“We just had to play our game,” Smith said. “I think winning doubles today was huge for us, then we got it going in singles. We knew we were capable of beating them and we were able to come out on top.”
The match at No. 6 between Garrett Brasseaux and Beck Pennington was halted in a first set tiebreaker.
“Kentucky really challenged us today,” Diaz said. “They are as good as anyone at the top of the lineup. Nathan and Hernus really stepped up their game, and I’m really proud of Austin for coming through again. Both guys were playing well, and it was just a great three-set battle.”
No. 2 Gators Dispatch No. 18 Auburn, 4-0
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - With the rain and wind that moved into the Gainesville area early Sunday morning, the second-ranked Gator women's tennis team had to make some adjustments in their match against 18th-ranked Auburn and play all matches inside the Perry Indoor Tennis Facility. Even with the change in scenery and only singles matches being played, Florida was still able to claim a 4-0 victory Sunday afternoon and move to 6-1 in conference play.
Only three singles matches were able to be played at a time, but junior Olivia Janowicz (Palm Bay, Fla.) got the Gators (13-3, 6-1 SEC) on the board early with her fourth straight win, followed by another great outing from senior Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.), who remained perfect in the spring season.
Juniors Alexandra Cercone (Seminole, Fla.) and Brianna Morgan (Beverly Hills, Calif.) both claimed another win in conference play to finish the match as Florida extended its impressive all-time home record against SEC opponents to 183-1. Overall, it's the 117th-straight win for UF on its home courts.
"This was our first taste of playing an entire match indoors," Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist said. "Playing singles first is a little different but I thought we handled it well. Auburn is really good. Some positions for Auburn have shortcomings technically, but their players step up with attitude. They were great last year and they're even better this year. Our players handled it well and we found a way to compete. We've gone through a gauntlet of top teams and we're going to take two days off this week for the first time all season. We need to give our bodies a break and get some air in our heads. It's not going to affect our forehands and backhands. Mentally, we need a few days off. This homestand has been exciting and we've been competing at a high level."
When the match was decided to be moved indoors to the Perry Indoor Tennis Facility due to the inclement weather, it was agreed by both coaches that singles would be played first and if need be, the doubles would be played after. First on the courts was Embree at court one, Cercone at court three and Janowicz at court five. Facing Auburn's Plamena Kurteva, Janowicz was the first off the courts as she cruised to a 6-2, 6-2, straight-set victory. Not only was it the junior's fourth-straight win, but it was also her fourth straight-set win in a row going back to the Gators' win against South Carolina.
"She (Olivia) was fantastic," Thornqvist said. "The first 30 minutes, her backhand and forehand were both outstanding and she played balls deep in both corners. Olivia had to go to Plan B in the second set and I was impressed to see how she's developed and her ability to have Plan A, B and C ready to go really helps. When she gets the lead and gets us on the board early, that helps us. I was pleased."
In the only match with two ranked players, Embree, in only her second match as the nation's top-ranked player, faced off against Pleun Bergmans, who is No. 51 in the most recent ITA rankings. Embree found herself down early, 2-1, after three played games in the first set, but re-gained the lead after two wins in a row to go up 3-2, a lead she never relinquished. Embree went on to win the first frame, 6-4, followed by a 6-3, second set victory to claim her 31st dual match win in a row.
After Janowicz and Embree's win, Cercone wasn't having as much luck against Jen Pfeifler on court three. Cercone won the first set, 6-1, but then fell behind early in the second set and couldn't recover as Pfeifler forced the match to a third frame with a 6-3, second set victory. Fortunately, for the Gators, Cercone settled back down and cruised to a 6-2 third set win, giving Florida the comfortable 3-0 lead in the team points. It's Cercone's sixth three-set win this year and second in a row as she is now 18-7 total on the year and 9-1 in dual play.
With UF leading the team score 3-0, it seemed like it wouldn't take much longer for the team to get its fourth point and claim its 13th win of the year. However, Auburn hung tough at the Nos, 2, 4 and 6 positions. Courts two and six were forced to a third set, even after Florida claimed first set victories on all six courts.
Once again, for the second-straight match, Morgan stepped up to the plate and was able to close things out for the Gators. After an easy, 6-2, first set win, Morgan had a 5-4 second set lead and was serving for the match. But her counterpart, Jackie Kasler extended the match after breaking Morgan's serve to make it 5-all. From there, the Beverly Hills native was all business and closed it out once again to win the second set, 7-5. It's Morgan's 10th victory of the dual season and 19th overall. Her 10 dual wins makes her only the third Gator to reach double digits in that category this season.
Alabama Women’s Tennis Bounces Back with 4-1 Win at South Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Despite dropping the doubles point, the eighth-ranked Alabama women’s tennis team came back to take four straight singles matches to beat South Carolina, 4-1, on Sunday at the USC Field House. With the win, the Crimson Tide moves to 14-2 on the season and 6-1 against Southeastern Conference opponents, while the loss drops the Gamecocks to 9-9 overall and 2-6 in the league.
South Carolina gained the early edge with wins in doubles on courts one and three. The matchup from the No. 1 position, featuring Alabama’s sixth-ranked duo of senior Alexa Guarachi and junior Mary Anne Macfarlane against Gamecock senior Jaklin Alawi and junior Dominika Kanakova came down to the wire, but it would be Alawi and Kanakova earning the late break to win, 8-6. South Carolina junior Elixane Lechemia and freshman Ximena Siles Luna led by as many as four games on court three before Tide sophomore Emily Zabor and freshman Natalia Maynetto battled back to pull within one. The Gamecock team would hold on to take the final game to win 8-6, giving South Carolina the 1-0 lead heading into singles.
Alabama’s top two singles players in Macfarlane and Guarachi wasted no time getting the Tide back in the match as they each picked up wins against ranked opponents in straight sets to put Alabama on top, 2-1. Both senior Antonia Foehse and freshman Maya Jansen dropped their first sets, but came back strong in the next two, defeating their respective Gamecock opponents in three sets. Foehse would clinch her sixth match of the season from the No. 4 position for Alabama, winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. The remaining two matches on court were suspended once the overall match was decided.
Lady Bulldog Tennis Claims Victory In 4-3 Thriller Over LSU
STARKVILLE, Miss. – In a seven-hour and 32-minute marathon match, the Mississippi State Lady Bulldog tennis team (7-9, 1-7 SEC) outlasted the No. 54 ranked Lady Tigers of LSU (8-10, 1-7) Sunday in a thrilling 4-3 decision, posting its first SEC victory of 2013.
Due to soggy and very windy conditions, the match was played indoors at McCarthy Gymnasium and started with singles competition.
MSU true freshman Georgiana Patrasc notched a quick win on court 1 to jumpstart the day’s match in favor of the Lady Bulldogs. Patrasc defeated Kaitlin Burns of LSU 6-2, 6-1. Alexandra Perper extended the MSU lead to 2-0, persevering to post a come-from-behind 6-7(6), 6-1. 6-2 triumph over Mary Jeremiah of the Lady Tigers on court 2.
LSU then even the match with two wins of its own. A 6-2, 6-3 win for Ella Taylor against Lady Bulldog sophomore Naomi Tran at the No. 3 position closed the MSU lead to 2-1. The Lady Tigers then evened the overall score at 2-2 as freshman Ariel Morton took down Petra Ferancova of MSU in a 6-1, 6-3 decision on court 4.
Roseline Dion then put MSU back on top with a focused 6-3, 6-3 victory on court 5 against LSU senior Keri Frankenberger, winning the last three games to give the Lady Bulldogs the 3-2 lead.
MSU’s Lien Van Geel competed against Lady Tiger Ebie Wilson at the No. 6 position, but before that match was decided, court 1 doubles commenced and the Lady Bulldogs' No. 46-ranked pair of Perper and Tran notched an 8-2 doubles win over Jeremiah and Morton of LSU on court 1. Following Perper and Tran’s triumph, court 3 doubles then went on court due to Wilson (still playing singles) being part of LSU's No. 2 team.
Van Geel would ultimately fall to Wilson 7-6(2), 7-5 in a closely contested match at No. 6, tying the team score at 3-3 and leaving the final two doubles matches on court, with State needing to win just one to clinch the match.
As the teams battled back and forth, LSU gained leads on both courts and it appeared the Tigers might steal the win from State. But on court 3, while LSU seemed in command on court 2, the Lady Bulldog duo of Dion and Patrasc fought back from a 6-4 deficit to force a deciding tiebreaker. In the breaker, the teams stayed on serve to 4-3. Dion and Patrasc then won three of the next four points to claim a 9-8(4) victory and clinch the exciting win for MSU.
Court 2 doubles was suspended at that point with LSU leading 7-3.
MSU head coach Daryl Greenan was very impressed by the effort shown by his team in the match.
“That was just an incredible and courageous performance from our girls. At 7 1/2 hours, it was the longest match I have been a part of. To come out on top feels amazing,” said Greenan. “Our girls have been fighting, grinding and preparing for each match with the expectation of doing something special. We have had highlights along the way, but getting this win was huge. I was very proud of our effort in every position, but special mention should go to Roseline Dion who found a way to take her game to the next level today.”