The Lady Vols will round out the 2013 regular season next weekend with a three match road trip beginning Thursday night at Tennessee State. The weekend will continue at Alabama on Friday at 4 p.m. ET and will finish at Auburn Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET
COLUMBIA, S.C. (April 5, 2013) — The 29th-ranked South Carolina women’s tennis team celebrated Senior Day with a 4-0 triumph over No. 37 Ole Miss on Sunday at Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. It marked the fourth straight SEC win for the Gamecocks, putting them over .500 in the league at 6-5 while also improving them to 13-8 overall. The Rebels dipped to 10-11 and 4-7 in the SEC.
South Carolina won a thrilling doubles point to mark the 16th time the Gamecocks have taken the doubles in 20 attempts this season. The 50th-ranked doubles team of Jaklin Alawi and Dominika Kanakova, however, were not part of the exciting finish, instead putting on a clinic against Ole Miss’s No. 53-rated duo of Caroline Rohde-Moe and Marija Milutinovic on court one. After both teams held serve to make it 1-all, the Gamecocks captured the next seven games to earn an 8-1 victory. Alawi and Kanakova improved to 22-8 on the season with the win while moving to 13-3 in dual match play.
The Rebels were still in control of the doubles, though, despite Carolina’s win on court one. At two, Erin Stephens and Iris Verboven jumped ahead of Josefin Andersson and Katerina Popova 6-2 and later led 7-3. At the No. 3 position, Julia Jones and Allie Robbins took a 5-2 advantage on Elixane Lechemia and Ximena Siles Luna.
South Carolina dug deep and mounted a furious comeback on both courts. On court two, Andersson and Popova broke Ole Miss at love to get back to 7-4 down and in the next stanza, the Gamecocks fought off a match point on Andersson’s serve at 30-40 to extend the match further. After holding for 7-5, the Gamecocks won the next three games to give Andersson a chance to serve out the match. Ole Miss countered punched, sending the match to a tiebreaker and took command of it by snatching a 3-0 lead.
Meanwhile, on court three, Lechemia and Siles Luna recovered from their 5-2 deficit by winning three games in a row for 5-all. After losing the 11th game, they broke Ole Miss’s serve to deadlock the match once again, and Lechemia followed with a hold of serve at love, the same thing she did the previous time she served. With Ole Miss ahead 6-5 in the tiebreaker on court two with a chance to serve it out, Lechemia and Siles Luna received a double fault from Ole Miss on court three that gave them an 8-6 victory. With the point in hand, the No. 2 doubles match was abandoned.
The momentum Carolina gained in the doubles translated into big gains in singles play. The Gamecocks secured the first set in five of the six matches, and Lechemia finished her opponent quickly on court three to make the score 2-0. She won the first set against No. 82 Mai El Kamash 6-1 and charged ahead 4-0 to begin the second. After El Kamash got the score back to 4-2, Lechemia closed the door on El Kamash for a 6-1, 6-2 win to cap a perfect weekend on the court. The junior from France improved to 8-5 on the spring and 5-5 in SEC match play.
Siles Luna used the confidence boost she received from her comeback victory with Lechemia in doubles to add the next point for the Gamecocks. She battled her way to a 6-3 first set win against Milutinovic at the No. 5 spot but fell behind 2-0 to get the second underway. Siles Luna kept her calm and recovered by winning six consecutive games for a 6-3, 6-2 win that upped her overall record on the season to 18-10.
It appeared No. 98 Popova would provide the clinching point soon after Siles Luna won, as she held a 6-2, 4-1 lead on Jones on court two. Jones had different plans and continued to fight, taking five games in a row off Popova to force a third set.
Fittingly on Senior Day, it was one of Carolina’s three seniors who provided the final point required for a team win. On court one, No. 87 Alawi flew past No. 45 Rohde-Moe 6-2 in the first set. The two traded games back and forth in the second set, but Rohde-Moe gained a break and found herself in a position to serve out the set up 5-4. Alawi continued her aggressive play, fighting off multiple set points until she eventually broke back for 5-all. Each player had her serve broken in the ensuing two games to set up a tiebreaker. Alawi earned a 3-1 advantage in the breaker before Rohde-Moe won three of the next four rallies to tie it up at 4-all. Alawi kept her composure and strung together three well-played points for her highest ranked win of the spring.
Popova and Jones were tied 1-all in the third when play stopped with Alawi’s victory. At the No. 4 spot, Kanakova led Stephens 3-0 in the third after winning the first 6-3 and dropping the second 6-2. Alawi’s classmate Andersson lost the first set to Verboven 7-5 on court six, but Andersson had a 4-3 advantage in the second.
South Carolina’s four straight SEC victories are the most since the 2010 campaign when the Gamecocks won four in a row against the likes of Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Carolina will look to continue its streak when it closes out the regular season on the road next weekend playing No. 17 Vanderbilt on Friday at 5 p.m. and No. 47 Kentucky at noon on Sunday.
No. 4 TAMU Beats No. 7 Alabama in Home Finale
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – In a battle between Southeastern Conference Western Division leaders, No. 4 Texas A&M celebrated Senior Day and closed out its regular-season home schedule with pivotal 4-3 victory over No. 7 Alabama today at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
The Aggies (18-2, 10-1 SEC) take sole possession of first place in the SEC West ahead of Alabama, which falls to 17-3, 9-2 SEC. In addition, A&M remains tied with Florida and Georgia for first in the overall SEC standings with two matches remaining in the regular season.
“In the context of winning a match against Alabama, No. 7, losing the doubles point, it’s a big match in the SEC and so forth, obviously I’m absolutely delighted and very proud of our kids,” A&M head coach Howard Joffe said. “I did feel like this wasn’t our best mental performance. Part of the job of the coach is to weigh the outcome, which in this case was good, with the substance. I felt like we left a few matches out there. I don’t want to take any credit away from Alabama. They are a very fine team with very fine players who competed hard and with passion, but I feel like we got ourselves in the hole, and it was a mixture of some toughness and some fortune that we were able to come back.”
A&M had never led in the team scoring until, in the last match standing, freshman Ines Deheza defeated Alabama senior Antonia Foehse, 6-4, 5-7, 6-1, at No. 4 singles to clinch the 4-3 victory. It marked Deheza’s 10th consecutive victory, and she improved to 8-0 in SEC singles matches.
A&M was forced to fight from behind after dropping the doubles point. Deheza and freshman Anna Mamalat teamed together for the first time in doubles and defeated Natalia Maynetto and Emily Zabor at the No. 3 line, but A&M would be unable to get a win on the remaining two courts.
Foehse and Maya Jansen jumped out to a 6-1 lead against A&M’s 72nd-ranked senior duo of Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Wen Sun en route to an 8-5 victory at the No. 2 line.
The point would be decided at No. 1, where a battle between top-10 opponents ensued. Alabama’s sixth-ranked duo of Alexa Guarachi and Mary Anne Macfarlane pulled away from seventh-ranked Stefania Hristov and Cristina Stancu, winning the last three games to take the match, 9-7, and give the Crimson Tide a 1-0 lead.
Maynetto, ranked No. 113 in singles, gave Alabama a 2-0 lead at the start of singles as she cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Hristov at No. 6.
Aggie senior Nazari Urbina, ranked 55th in singles, put A&M on the scoreboard and remained perfect in SEC play with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over 56th-ranked Guarachi at No. 2. Urbina improved to 9-0 in SEC play and she also notched her 96th career singles victory to move into sole possession of fourth place in the A&M career records.
Fifth-ranked Sanchez-Quintanar evened the score at 2-2 as she held off 26th-ranked Macfarlane, 6-3, 7-6 (3) on the No. 1 court. Sanchez-Quintanar improved to 33-6 overall, including 21-4 against ranked opponents, to move into a tie for fourth place in the A&M records for most singles wins in a season.
Zabor put the Tide ahead, 3-2, narrowly pulling off a straight-set victory over Sun at the No. 5 line. Zabor easily won the first set, 6-2, but Sun put up a solid fight in the second set and forced a tiebreaker before falling, 7-6 (5).
Stancu then evened the score with a courageous effort at No. 3. The junior from Romania took an injury timeout in the first set trailing Jansen, 6-5. Stancu realized the importance of her match, and despite suffering agonizing pain in her right shoulder, she returned to the court and evened the set at 6-6 to force a tiebreaker. The tiebreaker was tied, 4-4, before the determined Stancu reeled off three consecutive points to win the crucial first set.
Stancu, ranked No. 68 in singles, jumped out to a 3-0 lead over 84th-ranked Jansen in the second set, but Jansen came back to tie the set at 3-3 and again at 4-4.
Stancu then won the next two games to win the match, tying the team score at 3-3, and keeping the Aggies’ hopes alive.
“If Tina has to retire in that match, we lose,” Joffe said. “It was very brave of her.”
All eyes then turned to the No. 4 court, where Deheza had just won her second consecutive game to take a narrow 2-1 lead in the third and final set. With the crowd cheering her on, Deheza would not drop another game while closing out the victory.
“The end results of the match speaks exactly to how closely matched the teams are, and on that basis, how much pressure and stress there is,” Joffe said. “Ines Deheza won the first set and was 2-love up in the second set. She was leading the whole way in the second set, and I feel like she could have put it away. But pressure does strange things, and next thing you know we are in the third. It is not surprising that she ran away with it, and yet anything can happen in that situation.
“There is no question that one of the things that our team, analogous to a one-hit wonder musician, we’ve gotten ranked very, very high out of the gates, and there is no team that isn’t giving us their best shot. On that basis, there is just inherently much more pressure. I can see it on our kids. The last time we played, as one would term it loosely, and really got after it was when we played Florida, whom we were looking up at. Most of these matches are terribly, terribly stressful, but it’s definitely partly a character builder for our kids so they know how to handle these situations. I’m delighted on that basis.”
As part of Senior Day, Sanchez-Quintanar, Sun, Urbina and Janelle Cuthbertson, a senior who took a medical following the 2012 season and served as a student coach this year, were honored after the match.
A&M wraps up the regular season with a pair of road matches next weekend. The Aggies face Mississippi State Friday at 3 p.m. in Starkville, Miss., and then take on 37th-ranked Ole Miss in the season finale, Sunday at 12 p.m. in Oxford.
The SEC Women’s Tournament will be April 17-21 at Mississippi State’s A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
No. 7 Ole Miss Men Down South Carolina
OXFORD, Miss. – It was another close SEC match as they have been all year for the No. 7 ranked Ole Miss men’s tennis team, but the Rebels came up with some big three-setters to close out No. 20 South Carolina 4-2 on Senior Day Sunday at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.
With the win, the Rebels clinched at least a share of the SEC Western Division Championship and improved to 14-6 overall, 7-4 in league play. The Rebels can clinch it outright with a win at Texas A&M next Saturday to close out the regular season.
The Rebels fell behind for the second straight match after dropping the doubles point and the No. 1 singles match when sophomore Nik Scholtz retired after the first set. But, Ole Miss came up with singles wins at four, two and five before sophomore William Kallberg rallied to win his third set against Thiago Pinheiro at No. 3 to clinch the Rebels’ 11th straight victory against South Carolina.
“It was a great match for the seniors,” head coach Billy Chadwick said. “They won in doubles and then for Jonas after getting off to a slow start, really outfought the kid to win at two today. That was a big match. We were really fighting hard in all those third sets. It was a great team effort against a very good South Carolina team.”
“I didn’t play that well in the beginning, but I got an early break in the second, and he kind of relaxed a little,” Kallberg said. “I kept fighting and then from there it was a dogfight. I was down 5-2 and all of a sudden, I won 16 of 18 points. I started playing really well, and got a little bit lucky, played some amazing words.”
Freshman Stefan Lindmark started the rally, taking down Gamecock junior Chip Cox 6-3, 6-1 at No. 4 singles to put the Rebels on the board.
Senior Jonas Lutjen, victorious in his doubles match with fellow senior Adrian Forberg Skogeng, won a huge first set tiebreaker against SC’s Andrew Adams 7-6(6) which gave him the momentum to win the second set 6-3 and square the match at 2-2.
“This was an important win for us,” Lutjen said. “It was a great day, great weather and great crowd support. It was such a battle and I am glad that we got the win.”
Junior Johan Backstrom came up big at court five, defeating Gamecock Kyle Koch in three sets to give Ole Miss a 3-2 lead. Koch came into the match undefeated in the SEC.
Kallberg lost his first 6-4 and then as he noted, gained the early break to win the second set 6-4. Pinheiro raced out to a 5-2 lead in the third, but Kallberg hung in there and was able to break and hold serve for 5-5. He broke again to go up 6-5 and served it out.
When the match stopped, Forberg Skogeng was on serve in the third set against Gamecock Harry Menzies at six.
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Misssissippi State Rallies to Beat Florida in Thriller
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In perhaps its most thrilling match of 2013 to date, the No. 13 Mississippi State men’s tennis squad (15-7, 5-5 SEC) stormed back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the No. 17 Florida Gators (11-9, 5-5 SEC) Sunday at UF's Ring Tennis Complex.
The victory marked the first time in MSU recorded history that the Bulldogs have beaten the Gators consecutive times in Gainesville (State also won 4-3 at UF last season). With the win, State also swept weekend play, taking down two top 20 opponents after defeating No. 20 South Carolina 4-2 in Starkville Friday. The Bulldogs have now won three of their last four matches with only two more left in the regular season.
State jumped out early against the Gators Sunday by grabbing the doubles point with tough wins on courts one and two. The Gators struck first with an 8-5 victory from the duo of Florent Diep and Gordon Watson against MSU’s Pedro Dumont and Ethan Wilkinson at No. 3. However, State’s 15th-ranked team of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp responded with an 8-6 victory against UF’s Bob van Overbeek and Stephane Piro on court one to level the field.
On court two, both teams battled closely for the majority of the match, but the State tandem of Romain Bogaerts and Zach White pulled away in the end, defeating Florida’s Mike Alford and Luke Johnson 8-5 to clinch the doubles point for the Bulldogs.
The Gators would not be deterred, however, as the home team started off hot in singles by grabbing the first set on four of six courts.
UF’s Mike Alford even the score by downing MSU’s Angus 6-1, 7-5 on court four. Following suit was No. 117 van Overbeek, who fought off State senior James Chaudry 6-3, 6-4 at No. 3, giving the Gators a 2-1 lead. The Gators’ 102nd-ranked Diep brought his team within one point of clinching when he earned a 6-4, 6-1 victory against MSU’s No. 50 Stropp at the No. 2 spot.
With it seeming that Florida was on its way to victory at that point, the Bulldogs turned the tables and mounted a very impressive comeback.
State’s White was near defeat, down a set and 4-1 in the second on court five to UF’s Johnson, until he stormed back to force a tiebreaker to stay in the match. Again, White found himself down, as he trailed Johnson 5-2 in the tiebreaker. But once again, White roared back, winning five-straight points to take the tiebreaker and the second set 7-6(5). That key comeback forced a final set and kept the overall match going for the other two courts in play as well.
Shortly after White’s second-set rally, MSU's 20th-ranked Bogaerts downed UF’s No. 125 Piro 6-3, 6-4, trimming the Gator lead to 3-2.
As play headed to a third set on court six between MSU’s Dumont and UF’s Watson, White began to cruise through the final set at No. 5, finally shutting out Johnson in the third for a remarkable 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-0 triumph to tie the team match at 3-3.
As White was wrapping up his win, Dumont broke to open the third set on court 6 and held that advantage to the very end, defeating UF’s Watson 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to clinch the match for the Maroon and White. With the win, Dumont improved to 9-0 for the 2012-13 season in three-set matches.
“Florida outplayed us on a couple of courts today, but we hung in there to get the win,” Bulldog head coach Per Nilsson said. “Great job by Zach (White) to turn his match around and very strong of Pedro (Dumont) to finish it off.”
The Bulldogs now have just two matches remaining in the regular season before heading to Oxford, Miss., for the 2013 SEC Championship (April 17-21). State will travel to Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, April 10, to face the No. 32 LSU Tigers at 3 p.m. CT. MSU will then close out the regular season in College Station, Texas, on Friday, April 12, as they battle No. 12 Texas A&M at 6 p.m. CT.
For more information on Mississippi State men’s tennis, follow the Bulldogs on Twitter (www.twitter.com/mstatemt) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/mstatemt).
Razorback Men Split Doubleheader
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 53 University of Arkansas men’s tennis team split a doubleheader Sunday afternoon taking the match from St. Louis while falling to No. 4 Georgia. Arkansas honored its seniors Mike Ward and Gregoire Lehmann between doubles and singles of the Georgia match. Arkansas’s record moves to 13-14 for the 2013 season.
“It has been fun having Gregoire and Mike be a part of this program these past four years,” head coach Robert Cox said. “They have both grown a lot and matured tremendously and I am so happy to see them finish strong here on their home courts by clinching the doubles point against Georgia.”
In the first match of the day, Arkansas came out strong against the fourth-ranked Bulldogs taking the doubles point. Hall Fess and Santiago Munoz collected the first victory of the day with an easy 8-2 win over Eric Diaz and Marco Nunez. Georgia responded with a win over No. 35 Manfred Jeske and Mike Nott from the No. 41 Nathan Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux, 8-5. The senior duo of Mike Ward and Gregoire Lehmann clinched the doubles point for the Razorbacks and gave Arkansas the 1-0 lead.
Arkansas couldn’t transition its momentum from doubles into singles play. Georgia won on courts two, four, five and six to clinch the match. Lehmann and Nott’s matches were suspended. Lehmann was in a close match with the No. 11 singles player in the country tied at 4 in the second set. Nott was in his third set after winning the first and dropping the second.
The Razorbacks continued solid doubles play in the second match of the day against St. Louis. Fess and Munoz won on court one 8-4 while Christian Lee and Pete Thomason clinched the doubles point for the Hogs winning 8-4.
The Hogs transitioned to doubles in precise fashion winning the first set on all six courts. Jovan Parlic, Ward, Fess, Lee, Thomason and Austin Robles all collected two-set victories for the Hogs to give Arkansas the clean sweep over St. Louis.
Arkansas will travel to Omaha, Neb. on Tuesday to play a doubleheader with Nebraska-Omaha. The Razorbacks will close out play next weekend on the road at LSU. While in Baton Rouge, La. Arkansas will also play a neutral site match with Jackson State.
For more information on Razorback men’s tennis follow @RazorbackMTEN on Twitter.