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May 23, 2005

Columbia, S.C. – The University of South Carolina women’s tennis team posted a 15-9 record during the 2005 season. The Gamecocks went 6-5 in conference play and finished sixth overall in the SEC race. Carolina also finished the season ranked in the top 25 for the first time since the 2003 season but the tradition of winning continued for head coach Arlo Elkins and his women’s tennis team.

Carolina opened up the spring season with six victories before dropping their first match of the season to LSU. The loss to the Tigers was Carolina’s first defeat to LSU since 1985. After facing LSU, the Gamecocks returned home to begin on of the toughest stretches in all of collegiate tennis. During this stretch, the Gamecocks would face No. 24 BYU, and No. 3 Kentucky at home before traveling to No. 5 Vanderbilt, No. 19 Clemson then returning back home to face No. 23 Alabama..

Carolina dropped the match to BYU 4-1 but would challenge No. 3 Kentucky to the very end. The match with the Wildcats came down to the wire in between Aikeka Kalserieva and Danielle Wiggins at No. 1 singles. The two split sets but Kalserieva clinched the match for the Wildcats with her taking the third set to give UK a 4-3 win. After losing three in a row which was Carolina’s longest streak of the season, Coach Elkins reached into his back pocket to try something new.

The Gamecocks would try three brand new doubles team and Carolina would go in and sweep the doubles against No. 5 Vandy. In singles, Carolina took four of the six singles match to claim a 5-2 upset against the No. 5 team in the nation. After knocking off the Commodores, USC would drop their next match to in-state rival Clemson, 5-2. USC would then play their next eight matches without some of their top players in the lineup because the injury bug had hit town. Without one player in the lineup, all players moved up in the singles lineup and they would go 6-2 in that stretch.

Carolina hosted No. 23 Alabama and it would come down to the last match on the court. Christyn Lucas trailed in the first set 5-1 before rallying to force a set tie-break but the Crimson Tide’s Ashley Bentley held on to take the first set 7-6. Bentley had a 5-2 advantage and a 40-love lead in the game but Lucas would rally again to force another set tie-breaker with this time taking the set 7-6. Lucas and Bentley would exchange games in the third set but Lucas would pull away to give Carolina 4-3 victory over the 23rd-ranked team in the nation. Two weeks later, Lucas was back at it again.

In a similar situation, Lucas would claim wins against Mississippi and Mississippi State to give USC a 4-3 win. After facing the two SEC schools from the Magnolia state Carolina ended the regular season against Florida before traveling to the SEC Tournament. USC faced Arkansas in the opening round in a match that started around 10:30 eastern on Thursday night and finished up around 1 am Friday morning. The Gamecocks defeated the Razorbacks 4-1 in the midnight madness match. The next day USC was eliminated in the SEC Tournament by losing to Florida 4-0.

The NCAA tournament appearance in 2005 was Carolina’s 11th straight which ranks as the 11th longest streak in Division I women’s tennis. USC went to Athens, Ga. where they faced the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the first round of tournament play. The Cornhuskers were 18-3 overall, 38th in the country and making their first NCAA tournament appearance but the Gamecocks would go on to take their 12th consecutive opening round victory in the NCAA Tournament with a 4-0 win against Nebraska. In the second round, the Gamecocks faced the No. 8 national seed and regional host Georgia. The Gamecocks fought hard to force three sets in a couple of matches but the Bulldogs would go on to take a 4-0 victory and advance to the Round of 16 to face California.

USC lost three players on their roster with two being in the singles lineup. Magda Wojdylo ended her career ranking in the top 15 in career single wins, career double wins, and overall wins. Fallon Koon transferred from Georgia Tech in 2002 but sat out 2003 due to a shoulder injury. Koon returned to the lineup in 2004 where she posted a x-x record in her first season. Audrey George, a walk-on, was a member of the women’s tennis team her entire four years at USC. George participated in the 2003 NCAA Tournament and ended her career with an overall winning percentage over .500.

The underclassmen during the season was led by Miranda Gutierrez and Christyn Lucas. Gutierrez played at either three or four in singles while Lucas was at one or two. The two players had tremendous sophomore years as they both finished in the top three in wins over the entire season and dual match season.

Another standout was freshman Megan McGavock who entered into the lineup after Carolina’s loss to LSU. McGavock posted an 8-2 record overall at the No. 6 singles position. Other players that will return to Carolina’s lineup is junior’s Danielle Wiggins, and Justine Walsh; sophomore Laura Ganzer and red-shirt freshman Grace Blakely.