May 19, 2005
College Station, Texas – For the second straight season, the 19th-ranked USC Gamecock men’s tennis team will meet SEC East rival Florida in a postseason match-up. Carolina (20-9, 6-5 SEC) and the Gators (22-5, 10-1 SEC) will play one another for the fourth time in two seasons on Saturday, meeting in the NCAA Sweet 16 at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. USC advanced to the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in school history with a pair of dramatic 4-3 wins over Oklahoma and 13th-seeded Oklahoma State in NCAA Stillwater Regional last weekend in Stillwater, Oklahoma. South Carolina’s Head Coach Kent DeMars will be on SportsTalk (WVOC-560 AM) to talk about his team and their chances in the Sweet 16 on Thursday evening at 7:20 p.m.
The Gamecocks are one of just two unseeded teams to make this year’s Sweet 16, joining Florida State of the ACC, who defeated 12th-seeded Kentucky 4-2 in Lexington, Ky. The winner of the Carolina-Florida match will take on the winner of No. 5 Illinois and FSU in the Elite Eight.
Florida has dominated the series against USC, and Carolina’s last win came in Gainesville during the 1998 season, when the Gamecocks last advanced to the Sweet 16. The Gators won the regular season match-up between the schools on April 16 in Columbia, 7-0. The match however, was closer than the score showed as USC held 4-0 and 4-2 leads at Nos. 2 and 1 doubles respectively, and forced three of the six singles matches to a third set.
“Even though Florida is an excellent team I feel we have a good chance because we almost won the doubles point last time and we split three of the singles and could have won those matches,” said DeMars. “I also think it’s harder to beat a team the second time around. I know my guys are real motivated to play Florida again. We respect them but we feel if we play well we can beat them.”
The Southeastern Conference put 10 of its 12 teams in the NCAA Tournament this year, making 2005 the fifth straight year the conference had 10 or more schools represented in the 64-team field. Six of the 10 teams have advanced to the Sweet 16, with LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Tennessee joining USC and the Gators in College Station. LSU and Georgia will face each other on Saturday, with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals to face the No. 4 Ole Miss-Texas Tech winner. Tennessee plays No. 7 UCLA on Saturday in the Sweet 16.
Carolina’s match against Florida is scheduled for a 4 p.m. (ET) start on the Stadium Courts of the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. Live stats for all 15 matches of the team championships, as well as the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships can be found at the official site of the 2005 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships, ncaatennis.tamu.edu.