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Jan. 12, 2005

Columbia, S.C. – The University of South Carolina men’s tennis squad will travel to New Orleans, La., on Thursday to compete in the 2005 SEC Coaches Indoor Championships, Jan. 13-17, at the Hilton Riverside Racquet Club. Competing in singles for the Gamecocks are senior Ben Atkinson (Yorkshire, England), junior Tom Eklund (Hollviken, Sweden), and freshman Jaime Cuellar (San Salvador, El Salvador). Eklund and Cuellar will also play together in the doubles competition.

Atkinson brings a 51-28 career record in singles play into his first round match against host LSU’s Danny Bryan on Friday at 11:30 a.m.(ET) With a 13-13 career singles record in SEC play, this is Atkinson’s first meeting with a player from LSU.

Eklund takes a 41-23 career singles record into his first-round encounter with Jordan Dolberg of Florida at 12 p.m. on Friday. Carolina fell to the Gators last season in two hard fought duals, the final one coming in the second round of the SEC Tournament in Nashville. Eklund was 0-1 against the Gators, and was leading his match 6-3, 4-6, 2-0 at the SEC’s when play was suspended because of inclement weather.

Carolina’s final singles match features Cuellar and Mississippi State’s Phillipe Frayssinoux on Friday at 2 p.m. Cuellar, who won both singles and doubles state titles in Florida, was ranked in the ITF Top 20 in singles play and the Top four in doubles play during high school. He compiled a combined 10-9 record in singles and doubles play this fall, including a semifinal appearance in the USC Fall Invitational. Carolina’s only doubles entry, Eklund and Cuellar, will put their 6-3 record from the fall on the line against fourth-seeded John Isner and Antonio Ruiz of Georgia in the opening round on Friday at 6 p.m. Eklund boasts a 33-30 career doubles record coming into the match. The pair suffered a defeat to a duo from Georgia this fall, falling 8-3 to Strahinja Bobusic and Colin Purcell at the Bulldog Scramble in November.

The SEC Coaches Indoor Championships serves as a final tune-up for the 2005 season and gives the players and coaches a chance to scout their conference competition prior to the beginning of SEC play. The tournament begins with a two match ‘play-in’ on Thursday evening and concludes with the singles and doubles finals on Monday morning.