April 16, 2005
Columbia, S.C. – The 17th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks men’s tennis team will host SEC East rival and sixth-ranked Florida on Saturday afternoon. First serve is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Sam Daniel Tennis Facility, which is located adjacent to Sarge Frye Field. The match is one of the most crucial in the conference this season, as USC (18-7, 6-4 SEC) is locked in a tie for the fourth seed in next week’s SEC Tournament, while the Gators (16-5, 9-1 SEC) are tied with Ole Miss for regular season title coming into Saturday’s matches.
The Gamecocks have put together their best season in six years, and their best ever record in the Southeastern Conference. The team, led by the play of junior Tom Eklund and freshman Jaime Cuellar in singles, and the duo of Pedro Rodrigues and Geraldo Knorr in doubles, is looking to win their 19th match for just the second time since joining the SEC in 1992, and to lock up a first round bye for the SEC Tournament in Athens, Ga. next week.
Carolina will be honoring its lone senior, Ben Atkinson, at Saturday’s match. Atkinson, the 2005 team captain, is just the 12th player to ever the lead the team in both singles and doubles in a career, leading singles in 2003 and topping the doubles with teammate David Nelson in 2002. After picking up combined career win No. 100 earlier this spring at Davidson, Atkinson needs just two doubles wins to enter the Top 15 list of all-time doubles players at USC. Four more singles wins would place him in the Top 25 of the Carolina all-time single wins list. Atkinson has also been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll each of the past two seasons.
Florida comes into the match having already secured their third straight SEC Eastern Division crown. The Gators, who dropped a 5-2 decision to the Rebles of Mississippi in Oxford last weekend, are looking to clinch their second SEC regular season championship since Andy Jackson took over as head coach in 2001.
Live stats will be available, but fans need to check the Men’s Tennis page on www.uscsports.com for today’s live stats instead of the usual schedule page.
South Carolina and Florida will both travel to Athens, Ga. later this week for the 2005 SEC Tournament. The championships will be held at the Dan Mcgill Tennis Complex on the campus of the University of Georgia. It will open with a banquet where the SEC awards will be presented. The matches will begin on Thursday, April 21, and conclude with the championship match on Sunday, April 24.