March 1, 2005
Atlanta, Ga. – The South Carolina men’s tennis team dropped its third match of the season on Tuesday, 4-0 to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. It marks the first time USC has been shutout this season, and just the fifth shortened match of the year. The match was moved indoors due to the bitter cold and gusting winds that dropped the wind chill into the low 20’s in Atlanta. The Gamecocks (9-3, 0-0 SEC) have now dropped two straight on the season and two straight to Georgia Tech (6-2, 0-0 ACC).
After the move was made to play the match indoors, the coaches agreed to end the match as soon as it had been clinched by either team. All four of USC’s road matches have been shortened, and the only home match to not be played out was a 5-0 win over Troy.
With the action indoors, the match began with the doubles point. USC continued its recent doubles look, with sophomore Pedro Rodrigues and junior Geraldo Knorr at No. 1 doubles, junior Tom Eklund and freshman Jaime Cuellar at No. 2, and Dmitry Babenko with senior Ben Atkinson rounding out the lineup at No. 3. All three doubles matches would be close, as Jordan Delass and Noah Tyler took the first match 8-6 over Atkinson and Babenko. Rodrigues and Knorr were neck and neck with David North and Marko Rajevac, but fell a break short losing 8-6 to hand Tech the vital doubles point. Eklund and Cuellar’s match with Scott Blackmon and Jose Muguruza was suspended in the 13th game of the pro-set and the match tied at 6-6.
Down 1-0 to the Yellow Jackets, Carolina was looking for a quick response in singles to get back in the match. However, those hopes were dashed when North downed Rodrigues at No. 2 singles, 6-4, 6-2, giving Georgia Tech a 2-0 advantage. Knorr forced the No. 3 singles match to a first-set tiebreaker, but fell in the breaker and lost the second set 6-3, to put USC down 3-0. The pressure then fell to Tom Eklund, who came into the match ranked 68th in the nation. The junior from Sweden was looking to upset No. 18 Muguruza, and came within a few points of doing just that. Eklund hung tough in the first set before falling 7-5. The second set was a classic No. 1 singles dual, as the two players needed a tiebreaker to decide the match. With the match on the line, Muguruza was able to hang on to earn his and clinch the match for Georgia Tech.
The Gamecocks will return to Columbia to open their 2005 SEC season this Friday, March 4, against Arkansas at 2 p.m. Carolina will wrap up the week as they host LSU on Sunday, March 6. The LSU match is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., and both matches will take place at the Sam Daniel’s Tennis Center on the campus of USC. The courts are a part of the Spring Sports Center, on Heyward St. between Sumter and South Marion. Admission is free and the matches are open to the public.