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

April 1, 2005

Columbia, S.C. – The 34th-ranked USC men’s tennis team picked up its third win over Top-25 opponents on Friday evening, as they easily upset No. 17 Tennessee 6-1 in Columbia. Carolina (15-6, 4-3 SEC) earned a hard fought doubles point and never looked back, as senior Ben Atkinson earned his 15th singles win of the season and freshman Jaime Cuellar won his 20th doubles match of the year in the Gamecocks’ third straight win over the Volunteers (10-4, 5-2 SEC).

The doubles matches started off close at all three matches, with neither team having much of any adavantage. At No. 2 doubles, USC junior Tom Eklund and Cuellar were quickly in front 4-1, but Mark Dietrich and Morgan Wilson fought back to level the match at four. However, the Gamecock duo would win four of the next five games to take the match 8-4. Just two minutes later, Tennessee would earn its own doubles victory, as Bobby Cameron and Kaden Hensel defeated Atkinson and sophomore Dmitry Babenko 8-4 at No. 3 doubles. The point would be decided at No. 1 singles, where sophomore Pedro Rodrigues and junior Geraldo Knorr took on seventh-ranked Ockie Oosthuizen and Ben Rogers. The teams stayed on serve almost the entire way through, and the Carolina pair led 8-7 going into the 16th game of the pro set. Oosthuizen was serving for the Vols with the match knotted at deuce. A tough-played volley, filled with strategically placed shots, ended up going in favor of Rodrigues and Knorr. With the point on the line, the Tennessee sophomore committed two crucial service errors back to back and the Gamecock pair clinched the upset on the double fault. Rodrigues and Knorr became the first team to defeat Oosthuizen and Rogers this year, and Carolina became the first team to take the doubles point from Tennessee in 2005.

Carrying a 1-0 lead into singles, South Carolina put the match away with four straight singles victories on the four courts of the USC Indoor Facility. The Gamecocks were quickly out to a 3-0 lead, as Cuellar and sophomore Pedro Rodrigues earned straight set victories at Nos. 3 and 2 singles respectively. After dropping the first set 6-4, junior Tom Eklund, ranked No. 55 in the nation, came back strong the second set to send the match to a third set. Eklund and No. 53 Mark Dietrich stayed on serve for the first eight games, before the Carolina junior’s return forced Dietrich to hit a weak forehand into the net for the crucial service break and 5-4 lead. Serving in the next game, with a triple match point, Eklund wasted no time sealing his win and the match for USC. On his next serve, the junior from Sweden put his serve in the far corner of the ad side service box out of the reach of Dietrich for an ace to clinch the match 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. A few minutes later, sophomore Dmitry Babenko used a carry-over penalty point from the No. 1 singles match to take a Love-15 lead in the 10th game of his second set. Having already won the first set at No. 4 singles, and leading 5-4 in the second, Babenko looked primed to seal the match. His opponent, Ockie Oosthuizen, was trailing 30-40 in the final game, and handed Babenko the win, when he double faulted on the Carolina sophomore’s first match point opportunity to give USC a 5-0 lead. The Gamecocks’ only senior, Atkinson, was taken to a third-set supertiebreaker by Kaden Hensel, but would add Carolina’s final point with a 10-5 win in the break.

South Carolina returns to action when they host eighth-ranked Georgia on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. Despite trailing in the all-time series, USC players posted a 6-1 record in singles last fall against the Bulldogs (13-3, 5-1 SEC). The match will take place at the Sam Daniel Tennis Facility, adjacent to Sarge Frye Field on Carolina’s campus. Fans are encouraged to arrive early for the match to find parking, as USC and Georgia’s baseball teams are playing at Sarge Frye, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Final Score:
#17 Tennessee 1
#34 South Carolina 6

1. Rodrigues/Knorr (SC) def. #7 Oosthuizen/Rogers (T) 9-7
2. Eklund/Cuellar (SC) def. Dietrich/Wilson (T) 8-5
3. Cameron/Hensel (T) def. Atkinson/Babenko (SC) 8-4
Order of Completion: 2, 3, 1
South Carolina wins doubles point

1. #55 Tom Eklund (SC) def. #53 Mark Dietrich (T) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
2. Pedro Rodrigues (SC) def. Bobby Cameron (T) 6-3, 6-4
3. Jaime Cuellar (SC) def. Morgan Wilson (T) 7-5, 6-1
4. Dmitry Babenko (SC) def. Ockie Oosthuizen (T) 7-6(7), 6-4
5. Kiril Tcherveniachki (T) def. Geraldo Knorr (SC) 6-1, 6-4
6. Ben Atkinson (SC) def. Kaden Hensel (T) 6-3, 4-6, 1-0(5)
Order of Completion: 3, 2, 1*, 4, 5, 6
*Clinched Match

Time of Match: 3:21