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Oct. 8, 2004

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina men’s tennis team returned from Chapel Hill, NC after a successful trip to the Josephine Groot Memorial Invitational. The tournament, hosted by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, lasted from Friday, October 1 through Sunday, October 3, and was split up into four singles draws and two doubles draws.

The Gamecocks had two entries in the top bracket (A Singles). Tom Eklund advanced all the way to the semi-finals of the draw with straight set wins over Jonathan Clark of Charlotte (6-3, 6-2) and Alex Stone of Duke (7-6, 6-3) before bowing out to Nick Cavady of N.C. State (6-1, 6-7, 6-2). Jamie Cuellar went 1-1 for the weekend including a three set win over Stephen Amritraj of Duke (6-2, 0-6, 6-3).

Pedro Rodrigues blew through the B Singles bracket en route to an appearance in the finals. The big right-hander posted wins over Ryan Mills of Campbell (6-4, 6-1), Bobby McNally from Richmond (6-2, 6-0), and Florent Willpotte also from Campbell (6-3, 7-6). Rodrigues would fall in the finals to Ben Carlotti of the host Tar Heels (0-6, 3-6). B Singles also saw senior Rob Cassidy pick up his first win of the year, an opening round defeat of Navy’s Brandon Carter (3-6, 7-6, 6-4) before losing to eventual champ Ben Carlotti.

Carolina’s lone entry in the C Singles bracket was Coastal Carolina transfer Adam Adler. Adler opened play with a three set win over Marc Sifre of Campbell (6-4, 4-6, 6-4). Adler drew eventual finalist Karl Wishart of UNC in the second round and actually won the first game before losing in three sets (5-7, 6-2, 6-3).

South Carolina picked up an additional second place finish in D Singles play. Thomas Stoddard went through the first three rounds of play relatively unchallenged, posting straight set wins over Charles Seltzer of Richmond (6-3, 6-3), P.J. Petrides of UNC (6-2, 6-2) and Jonathan Ventcatchellum of Charlotte (6-0, 6-0). The finals once again saw a Carolina player capture the first set before barely dropping the last two. Stoddard beat Tristan Heinrich of UNC 6-4 in the first set then dropped the next to 5-7 and 4-6. Kazuya Otani also played in D Singles for the Gamecocks, losing to semi-finalist Nick Owen from Campbell (2-6, 4-6).

USC did extremely well in doubles play with all three teams entered reaching their respective semi-finals. Tom Eklund and Jamie Cuellar teamed up to give Carolina its third second place finish of the invitational. The duo posted a 3-1 mark in A Doubles play that included wins over teams from Navy, Richmond, and North Carolina. The pair would lose a heartbreaker to another UNC team (Geoff Boyd/Brad Pomeroy) 9-8 in the finals. Plans for an all USC final has been dashed earlier when Pedro Rodrigues and Thomas Stoddard lost in the semis to the same UNC team that defeated Eklund and Cuellar in the finals. B Doubles action saw Adam Adler and Rob Cassidy earn a berth in the semis with a win over Sandeep Dayia/Karl Wishart of UNC 9-8. Adler and Cassidy would be on the other end of a close score in the semis as they we re defeated by Matt Stillwagon/Doug Banker from Richmond (9-8).

The Gamecocks will now begin preparations for their next tournament, as they will host the 20th annual South Carolina Fall Invitational, October 15-17, at the Sam Daniel Tennis Facility.