Oct. 15, 2005
Columbia, S.C. – For the second straight day, the annual USC Fall Invitational was contested under a cloudless sky with temperatures around 82 degrees the entire day. And just like Friday, the South Carolina men’s tennis players had a highly successful day as the field was narrowed to singles semifinalists and doubles finalists on Saturday in Columbia. Two USC players, senior captain Tom Eklund and sophomore Jaime Cuellar, earned their way into the singles semifinals and Cuellar and senior Geraldo Knorr easily advanced to the doubles final.
Eklund, ranked 15th in the nation and the tournament’s number one seed, earned his way into the top flight semifinals with an easy 6-1, 6-2 win over Or Dekel of College of Charleston in the quarters after defeating Furman’s Brian Crook in three sets in the round of 16.
Cuellar, who led the team in singles victories a year ago with 28, lost his first set on Friday morning and has not dropped another set this weekend, defeating Georgia Southern’s Vincent Patry and Marius Adamski of Wake Forest in straight sets on Saturday, to advance to the semifinals, where he will face Eklund on Sunday.
Carolina’s only loss in the singles main draw came in the final quarterfinal match, where senior Geraldo Knorr fell in two tough sets, losing 7-6(5) and 7-6(7) to Blake Strode of Arkansas.
The momentum from Cuellar and Eklund’s victories carried into the main draw doubles for Carolina, as top-seeded Cuellar and Knorr defeated Arkansas’ Strode and Taylor King 8-3 in the final match of the day. They will face second-seeded Juan Crosa and Oscar Posada of East Tennessee State in the top flight doubles final tomorrow.
In consolation action, USC’s Dmitry Babenko defeated North Florida’s Jose Terrera in two sets and then finished off his weekend with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Crook in the quarterfinals of the top flight consolation bracket. In B-2 flight consolation action, senior Kazuya Otani earned a hard fought victory over Gardner-Webb’s Taylor Ferrier in two tiebreak sets, while Gamecock newcomer Joe Veeder won his consolation match easily, defeating Eric Proctor (also of Gardner-Webb) 6-1, 6-0.
Play resumes Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. with the semifinals of the singles draws and the singles finals at 11:30 a.m. The doubles final will be contested at 1 p.m. All main draw finals will be conducted at the Sam Daniels Tennis Center at the corner of Heyward and Sumter streets, adjacent to Sarge Frye Field.