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April 23, 2004

Results?|? Quotes?|? Notes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – 10th-seeded South Carolina’s Cinderella story in the SEC Tournament fell short Friday night as the Gamecocks fell to second-seeded and seventh-ranked Florida, 4-0. USC advanced to the second round of the tournament for the first time since 2002, the fifth time in school history. South Carolina now returns to Columbia to await a possible at large NCAA Tournament bid. USC is hoping to make the NCAA Tournament for the 11th consecutive year.

“Florida just played too tough for us today,” said Carolina Head Coach Kent DeMars. “We used a lot of legs last night and they had a day off, but they deserved their day off. They are a good team and had a great regular season. The 4-0 score did not do this match any justice. We had a chance – last night we pulled it out and tonight was a bit tougher.”

Carolina fell behind early as Florida took a tough doubles point. Florida easily won at No. 1 doubles as 44th-ranked Chris Brandi and Hamid Mirzadeh topped Carolina’s Geraldo Knorr and Pedro Rodrigues, 8-3. At No. 3 doubles, Carolina’s Ben Atkinson and Carl Wermee were behind 7-3 before mounting a rally to come within one point at 7-6. However, Florida’s Martin Stiegwardt and Stefan Tell were able to notch that final point, giving UF the 8-6 win and the 1-0 match lead.

The match took a small break at 7:40 p.m. (CT) as the waning darkness forced officials to move the match indoors at the Brownlee O. Curry Tennis Center. Beginning late yet again due to inclimate weather, USC’s match against Florida did not begin until 5:15 p.m. (CT), four hours after the original 1:15 p.m. (CT) scheduled start.

Once indoors, Florida went up 2-0 as Chris Brandi notched the win at No. 5 singles over Carolina’s Ben Atkinson, 6-3, 7-5. Atkinson was down 4-1 in the second set, but rallied to tie the set at five games apiece. However, the rally was for naught as Brandi took the next two games to clinch the match and give the Gators a 2-0 lead.

Florida went up 3-0 on the match as Marcus Westman was edged out by 10th-ranked Hamid Mirzadeh at No. 1 singles, 7-6 (2), 6-4.

At No. 4 singles, Geraldo Knorr and Florida’s Stefan Tell were pitted in a close match the entire day. However, things did not go as well for Carolina against Florida as they did against Vanderbilt in the previous round. Knorr fell to Tell in straight set tie-breakers, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (7).

South Carolina (15-13) now awaits a possible at large NCAA Tournament bid. If granted, 2004 would mark Carolina’s 11th consecutive season with an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.