Feb. 10, 2005
Chapel Hill, N.C. – South Carolina’s men’s tennis team made their third trip this year to the University of North Carolina on Thursday, but came up on the short end of a 5-2 score in the 33rd edition of the cross-border rivalry. The match was the typical hard fought contest that has become the trademark of this match-up, but UNC prevailed to win the doubles point, then never looked back, winning five straight matches to seal the win at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center on the campus of North Carolina.
The Gamecocks (4-1, 0-0 SEC) started off the match in great position, winning the first doubles match at the No 3. position. Freshman Jaime Cuellar and junior Geraldo Knorr continued their hot streak in doubles, breaking UNC’s Jonathan Janda and Raian Luchici in the final game to get an 8-4 victory to remain unbeaten this season at 4-0. The final two doubles matches were tight ones, with the scores being close the all the way through both matches, but the USC pairs of Tom Eklund and Ben Atkinson, along with Pedro Rodrigues and Dmitry Babenko, both lost tight 8-6 matches. The No. 1 doubles match with Eklund/Atkinson marked the third time this year that Geoff Boyd and Brad Pomeroy, ranked ninth in the nation in doubles, have gotten the best of USC teams in tight matches. At the Josephine Groot Memorial Tournament at UNC last October, Eklund and Cuellar forced Boyd/Pomeroy to a tiebreaker in a 9-8 loss, while the day before at the same tournament, Rodrigues and freshman Thomas Stoddard dropped an 8-6 decision to the UNC pair.
The No. 30 Tar Heels (5-2, 0-0 ACC) carried the momentum of their two doubles victories into singles and won three straight singles decisions to clinch their second straight win in the series. But after UNC clinched the match at No. 1 singles, the singles matches got interesting. USC freshman Jaime Cuellar continued his unbeaten run in dual matches, defeating another freshman, Benjamin Carlotti 6-2, 7-6(5). The match was Cuellar’s fifth against UNC opposition in singles and Carlotti was the fifth different Tar Heel he has looked across the net at this year. The remaining two singles matches, the No. 3 and 2 slots, would be even more exciting. At No. 3, Knorr faced off against Brad Pomeroy and cruised through the first set 6-2. However, the second set would be intense, and Pomeroy pulled out a 7-1 win in the tiebreaker game to tie the match at one set apiece. Pomeroy would go on to win the third set 6-2. The match was Knorr’s second three-set match this spring, in just his fifth singles match. In the final match of the day, USC’s Rodrigues faced off against North Carolina’s Geoff Boyd. The match was tight through all three sets despite the end score. It was easily the day’s most even match, with the two players trading breaks all afternoon. Rodrigues eventually outlasted the Tar Heel senior, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The Gamecocks will return home and regroup to face Elon on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. USC then closes out its busiest stretch of matches in 20 years with a doubleheader against Wofford and Samford on Sunday. The matches will begin at 10 a.m. All three matches this weekend will be held at the USC Indoor Tennis Facility inside the USC Field House. The field house is located at the corner of Whaley and Marion, directly across the street from the Eugene Stone Soccer Stadium. The matches are free and open to the public.