Feb. 13, 2006
Columbia, S.C. – The 12th-ranked South Carolina men’s tennis team fell from the ranks of the unbeaten on Monday, as No. 27 North Carolina knocked off USC, 4-2, at the USC Indoor Facility. The Gamecocks (6-1, 0-0 SEC) dropped their third straight to the Tar Heels (10-0, 0-0 ACC), the first three-match winning streak in the series since UNC did it from 1994-96. Carolina now turns their attention to the 2006 USTA/ITA National Team Indoors, in Seattle, Feb. 17-20.
In doubles action, North Carolina came out strong on courts one and two, breaking senior Tom Eklund’s first serve at No. 1 doubles, then taking out sophomore Jaime Cuellar’s first service game on court two. The nation’s top-ranked duo of Raian Luchici and Brad Pomeroy broke Eklund and Thomas Stoddard three times, including the final game of their 8-3 victory. At No. 2 doubles, Cuellar and senior Geraldo Knorr were broken in three straight service games by Lenny Gullan and David Stone, before falling, 8-2, in the match that clinched the doubles point for the Tar Heels.
The match moved to singles, where USC quickly fell behind 2-0 after fifth-ranked Luchici downed Eklund 6-1, 6-2 at No. 1 singles. Carolina pulled a point back when Cuellar picked up his second straight win against the Tar Heels at No. 3 singles, defeating Derek Porter in straight sets, 6-2, 7-5. The Gamecocks were within minutes of turning the match around and taking a 3-2 lead, but sophomore Yevgeny Supeko dropped a third-set tiebreaker to Pomeroy at No. 2 singles to give the Tar Heels a 3-1 lead. Knorr put Carolina’s final point on the board with his 2-6, 6-1, 7-5 win on court four. North Carolina would clinch the upset with Sebastian Guejman’s three-set win over Babenko at No. 5.
South Carolina will head to Seattle on Wednesday night, and open play at the 2006 USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships on Friday, Feb. 17. The Gamecocks will take on 5th-ranked Mississippi in the first round at 11 a.m. (ET) at the Seattle Tennis Club. USC will then face either the winner or loser of sixth-seeded Virginia and No. 12-seed Florida State on Saturday. Top-ranked Florida, eighth-ranked Duke, No. 9 Baylor and Penn are the other four teams in Carolina’s half of the 16-team bracket.