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Jan. 31, 2004

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Given an early clue that the 2004 schedule is one of the toughest in the nation, the South Carolina men’s tennis team rallied to defeat the upstart UNC-Wilmington Seahawks 4-3 Saturday evening. Despite taking an early 1-0 lead with the doubles point, the Seahawk singles squad quickly proved they would be filling the role of Cinderella this season.

“That was a great win for us today,” said Carolina Head Coach Kent DeMars. “We had a gutty performance. Down 3-2 and 5-0 in the breaker at No. 5 singles, we were able to mount a comeback. It was pretty amazing. I’m proud of our team for never giving up.”

Tom Eklund, at No. 2 singles, recorded his second quick win of the day, dispensing with Rahul Rajkehewa 6-1, 6-0. Following Eklund’s win, the Gamecocks dealt with tough competition across the board. After Carolina lost at No. 3 and 4 singles, Marcus Westman slipped against Danilo Mendes with a heartbreaking 6-3, 4-6, 5-7 loss.

This put Carolina down 3-2 with two singles matches remaining. At No. 5 singles, Rob Cassidy, who was filling in for the injured Ben Atkinson, was down 1-0 in the match and 5-0 in the second set. Cassidy then put on a show, rallying to win the set 7-6 (5) and stunned everyone with a quick 6-0 set three win to tie the match 3-3.

Geraldo Knorr then came through for Carolina at No. 6 singles, notching the 6-0, 6-2 win over Grant Holland of UNCW.

Carolina next squares off on February 8 with another two-match day. The Gamecocks will face USC-Spartanburg at 10 a.m. then turn around and play Radford at 2 p.m. Both matches will be at the USC Indoor Tennis Facility in Columbia.