April 2, 2004
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Less than three days after falling to arch-rival Clemson, the South Carolina men’s tennis team has redeemed themselves. After winning their first doubles point in almost a month, Carolina notched three other singles matches to cement the 4-1 victory over third-ranked Ole Miss, handing the Rebels their first conference loss this season.
“That just goes to show you how tough the Southeastern Conference is,” commented an delighted head coach Kent DeMars. “That was a great win. It was terrific. We’ve been close all year and fallen short. Sometimes that breaks you up, hurts you mentally. But this group held together, stayed determined. This win couldn’t have happened to a better group of guys.”
“This is definitely my biggest win ever since being at South Carolina.”
– Senior Carl Wermee
South Carolina, ranked 56th, gave Ole Miss (16-2, 7-1 SEC) only their second loss of the season, their first since Feb. 7, when UCLA upended the Rebels 4-3. Meanwhile, South Carolina (13-8, 2-5 SEC) notched their second SEC win against a conference that has sent all 12 teams to the NCAA Tournament for two consecutive years.
The doubles point started off slow for Carolina as Tom Eklund and Marcus Westman fell to 25th-ranked Claes Lindholm and Eric Claesson, 8-0, at No. 2 doubles. It then picked up for Carolina as the Brazilian tandem of Geraldo Knorr and Pedro Rodrigues notched the 8-3 upset over eighth-ranked Catalin Gard and Paul Ciorascu of Ole Miss at No. 1 doubles. Ben Atkinson and Carl Wermee sealed the doubles point victory at No. 3 doubles with an 8-4 victory over Juan Pablo Di Cesare and Fredrik Aarum, giving USC the 1-0 match lead.
Ole Miss struck first in singles competition after a 45 minute rain delay as fourth-ranked Catalin Gard beat Carolina’s Marcus Westman at No. 1 singles, 6-2, 6-2. Tom Eklund gave USC the 2-1 lead in the matchat No. 2 singles as he upended 82nd-ranked Paul Ciorascu (the Boras, Sweden native) of Ole Miss, 6-4, 6-2, in one of two singles matches featuring all Swedish-born players.
Sophomore Tom Eklund gave the Gamecocks a 2-1 match lead with a 6-4, 6-2 win over No. 82 Paul Ciorascu.
“It feels very good to win a match of this magnitude,” said sophomore and Hollviken, Sweden-native Tom Eklund. “My opponent today has beaten me three times earlier to it feels great to get a win against him.”
Geraldo Knorr, a Florianoplis, Brazil-natvie, notched another point to the Carolina lead at No. 4 singles as he beat Juan Pablo Di Cesare, 6-4, 6-3, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Carl Wermee, the Orebro, Sweeden native, then sealed the Carolina victorye at No. 3 singles as he battled back from a 2-6 loss in set one to beat Claes Lindholm (Karlskrona, Sweden) of Ole Miss, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3, in the second Sweden vs. Sweden match-up.
“This is definitely my biggest win ever since being at South Carolina,” said senior Carl Wermee. “It was fun to beat Ole Miss because they have three Swedes on their roster (as does South Carolina). For us (Swedes), this match was more about pride and bragging rights. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they were ranked third in the country.”
The win over No. 3 Ole Miss is Carolina’s first victory over Ole Miss since 1999, when the Gamecocks beat the then-fourth ranked Rebels 4-3 in Columbia. It is also the biggest win in school history since USC notched a 4-3 win over second-ranked Georgia at home on March 31, 1994. The Gamecocks are now 4-3 against ranked opponents in 2004.
Carolina squares off against 31st-ranked Mississippi State Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. at the Sam Daniel Tennis Center (next to Sarge Frye Field). The Bulldogs of MSU played at No. 13 Florida Friday evening.