March 8, 2005
Columbia, S.C. – The Southeastern Conference named South Carolina junior Tom Eklund the SEC Men’s Tennis Player of the Week on Tuesday. The honor, the first for a Gamecock men’s tennis player, comes after Eklund upset then-fifth-ranked Ken Skupski at No. 1 singles last Sunday, March 6, helping Carolina (11-3, 2-0 SEC) knock off No. 9 LSU in Columbia. Eklund, a native of Hollviken, Sweden, also earned a win over Arkansas’ Adrians Zguns in USC’s upset of No. 38 Arkansas last Friday.
Eklund, who moved up 22 spots in the bi-weekly ITA singles rankings this week, has earned the honor for the first time in his career. The week was a good one for USC and Eklund, as he went 2-1 in singles and 1-0 in doubles with partner Jaime Cuellar, while the Gamecocks upset the Razorbacks and Tigers, jumped up 25 places in the national rankings to No. 30 this week, and are off to their best start in SEC play in school history. Eklund’s lone loss in singles last week was to No. 18 Jose Muguruza of Georgia Tech in Carolina’s 4-0 loss to the Yellow Jackets last Tuesday, March 1. Eklund’s win over Zguns was the turning point in the singles competition with Arkansas, and gave the momentum in the matches to USC who earned a 5-2 come from behind win. On Sunday, Eklund played the match of the season in defeating Skupski in straight sets to tie the match at three all, and give Cuellar the opportunity to clinch the match at No. 4 singles. Eklund’s upset was the biggest win for a Carolina player in singles competition since All-American Seth Rose defeated No. 4 Janne Holmia of Florida in the 2003 NCAA Singles Tournament.
This is the third year the SEC has kept records of men’s tennis Players of the Week and it is the first time a Gamecock athlete has won the honor. Players are nominated by their respective men’s tennis sports information contacts and the award is chosen by a committee in the SEC Media Relations Office.