Skip to main content
Partner logo
Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Gamecocks+

March 25, 2005


Tuscaloosa, Ala. – The USC Gamecock men’s tennis team won its second straight match and improved to 4-3 on the road this season with a 6-1 win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Friday evening. South Carolina (14-5, 3-2 SEC East) won the doubles point, and took five of the six singles matches to earn its first win over the Crimson Tide (7-9, 0-5 SEC West) in seven years. USC senior Ben Atkinson maintained his perfect singles record against Alabama in dual matches with a win at No. 6 singles, while junior Tom Eklund clinched the match with a three-set victory over No. 99 Luigi D’Agord at No. 1 singles.

Carolina, playing just their second conference road match of the year, came out swinging in the doubles matches. Atkinson and sophomore Dmitry Babenko defeated Sammy Struyf and Jordie Kindervater 8-6 at No. 3 doubles, and shortly thereafter, Eklund and freshman Jaime Cuellar put Carolina on the board with an 8-5 win over Joseph Jung and RJ Murray at No. 2. USC came close to sweeping the doubles point, but sophomore Pedro Rodrigues and junior Geraldo Knorr dropped the No. 1 doubles match 9-8(6) to to D’Agord and Eric Molnar in a tiebreaker.

With USC leading 1-0, the focus moved to the singles matches. For the second time this week, Atkinson was able to win his match in under an hour, this time defeating Struyf 6-3, 6-0 at No. 6 singles to move his career singles record to 3-0 against the Tide. Freshman Cuellar, who became the fastest freshman to reach 20 wins in USC history earlier this season, won his second straight match at No. 3 singles, downing Molnar in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1. Alabama’s Billy Mertz would put his side on the board with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Knorr at No. 3 singles, but that would be it for the Tide, as USC took all three remaining singles matches in three sets. After both dropping first sets 6-2, Eklund and Rodrigues would regain their composure and ease by their opponents at No. 1 and 2 singles respectively, losing just nine combined games in their last four sets. The final point would be claimed by USC’s Babenko, who defeated Murray 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 at No. 5 singles.

The win ties the largest margin of victory in the all-time series between USC and Alabama. The only other 6-1 win was also a Carolina victory, in Tuscaloosa in 1998. The Gamecocks did not struggle in closing out matches Friday evening, as they lost just nine games in the final set of each their five singles victories, and did not surrender more than three in any one of those sets.

The 41st-ranked USC Gamecocks will return to action this Sunday, March 27, when they travel to Auburn to take on the No. 36 Tigers. The match is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. (ET) Auburn (9-4, 0-4 SEC West) leads the all-time series 11-9, and is 4-3 against Carolina in The Plains. The two teams have split their last four meetings however, including the Gamecocks 4-1 win in the first round of the 2001 SEC Tournament in Kentucky. Live scoring for the Auburn match will be available on the Tigers official website, USC returns home next weekend, April 1-3, to take on SEC East rivals Tennessee (Friday, April 1, 2 p.m.) and Georgia (Sunday, April 3, 1 p.m.). Both matches will take place at the Sam Daniel Tennis Facility, which is located next to Sarge Frye Field on the campus of South Carolina.