March 19, 2004
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Despite taking a 3-1 lead, the Carolina men’s tennis team was unable to stop the Crimson Tide rally as they dropped their third consecutive Southeastern Conference match with a 4-3 defeat to Alabama. South Carolina falls to 11-5, 0-3 in the SEC while Alabama (6-6, 1-2 SEC) notches their first conference win of the year.
“We’ve had two extremely close conference matches that could have gone either way,” said Carolina Head Coach Kent DeMars. “We are right there – if the ball falls the other way, we’re sitting at 2-1 in SEC play, but that’s the way it goes.”
Carolina fell behind early after dropping the doubles point to the Crimson Tide. Ben Atkinson and Carl Wermee fell 8-2 to R.J. Murray and Joseph Jung at No. 3 doubles then Chris Gostek and Eric Molner topped Geraldo Knorr and Pedro Rodrigues at No. 2 doubles 8-5 solidifying the 1-0 Alabama lead.
Despite falling 1-0 early, the Gamecocks stormed back to take a 3-1 lead. Geraldo Knorr led off the rally with a quick 6-3, 6-3 win over Eric Molnar at No. 4 singles. Ben Atkinson kept rally alive with a 6-3, 6-3 defeat of Mike Green at No. 6 singles. Meanwhile, at No. 2 doubles, Tom Eklund notched a 7-6 (2), 6-1 victory over Chris Gostek.
However, it wasn’t enough as Alabama rallied the troops, starting off with R.J. Murray’s 7-6 (7), 6-3 win over Pedro Rodrigues at No. 5 singles. Carl Wermee then fell to Joseph Jung at No. 3 singles, 4-6, 6-2, 6-0. 60th-ranked singles player Stephen Mitchell sealed Alabama’s first conference win with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over Carolina’s Marcus Westman at No. 1 singles.
Carolina tries for their first conference win Sunday as they host the Auburn Tigers at 1 p.m. at the Sam Daniel Tennis Facility. Auburn is 5-6, 0-2 in the SEC entering this weekend’s play. The Tigers played at No. 9 Florida Friday evening before traveling to South Carolina.