March 21, 2005
Columbia, S.C. – The USC Gamecock men’s tennis team will take on ACC rival Wake Forest for the 27th time on Tuesday. Carolina (12-5, 2-2 SEC) leads the all-time series 22-4, including a 13-2 mark in Columbia. USC dropped a 4-2 decision to Wake in Winston-Salem, N.C. last season, but it was just the second time since 1995 that the Demon Deacons (11-1, 3-0 ACC) have come out on top in the series.
37th-ranked Carolina comes into the match having lost two straight on the season, but holds an impressive 10-3 record against non-conference opponents in 2005. The 24th-ranked Demon Deacons will be the fourth Top 30 team that USC has faced this year. Despite losses to then-No. 30 UNC-Chapel Hill and No. 25 Kentucky, the Gamecocks were able to upset then-No. 9 LSU, 4-3, on March 6 in Columbia. The home court has been a huge advantage to Carolina this season, as they hold a combined 9-2 record at the USC Indoor Facility and the Sam Daniel Tennis Center.
The fourth and fifth singles positions have been the most successful for USC this year, as they have gone a combined 24-6 in dual match play. Senior Ben Atkinson and freshman Jaime Cuellar have posted 14 of those wins. Atkinson, Carolina’s lone senior, will bring a 12-5 singles record into Tuesday’s match-up, including wins in eight of his last ten. The Yorkshire, England native dropped his last match 7-5, 6-1 to Andy Mack of Vanderbilt, but has lost back-to-back matches just once this year. Atkinson and Cuellar have been the workhorses of the Gamecocks this season, playing in a combined 17 three-set matches this season, going 13-4 in those singles matches. Cuellar, who hails from El Salvador, has posted the most wins on the team to date, and with his win over Nathan Sachs of Vanderbilt on March 13 reached the 20-win mark in just the 27th singles match of his career. In those 20 wins, he has won 16 of his last 18, and is an impressive 14-1 this spring.
Following the Wake Forest match, Carolina will travel to Alabama for an SEC match with the Crimson Tide on Friday, March 25, and will then head to Auburn on Sunday, March 27. The Gamecocks will return home to face Tennessee and Georgia on April 1 and 3.
The match with the Demon Deacons, USC’s second-to-last non-conference match-up, is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. at the Sam Daniel Tennis Facility on Heyward St., adjacent to Sarge Frye Field. Admission is free and the match is open to the public.