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Feb. 24, 2006

The No. 31 South Carolina men’s tennis team returns to Columbia this weekend to face 39th-ranked NC State. The match is scheduled for a Noon start at the Sam Daniel Tennis Facility, located adjacent to Sarge Frye Field on the USC campus.

This is the final home non-conference home match for Carolina before it begins its Southeastern Conference schedule next weekend, March 3-5. It is also the first home match for the Gamecocks (6-4, 0-0 SEC) in nearly two weeks, as Thursday’s contest with Charleston Southern was postponed until March 22.

Scouting the Gamecocks
USC is coming off of a tough stretch of matches last week, falling, 4-2, in another border battle with North Carolina on Feb. 13, and then dropping three matches at the 2006 USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships, Feb. 17-20. The Gamecocks have been led by the play of sophomore Jaime Cuellar and senior Geraldo Knorr in singles. Carolina has captured eight of the 10 doubles points contested in their matches this season behind Cuellar and senior Tom Eklund at No. 2 doubles, along with the 47th-ranked duo of Knorr and sophomore Yevgeny Supeko.

For the Wolfpack
The 39th-ranked NC State Wolfpack comes into Columbia for the first time since the 2002 season. The Wolfpack come into Saturday’s match on a hot streak, having won nine of their first 10 matches this season. NC State’s only loss came at No. 30 Louisville, 6-1, on Feb. 19. USC is the fourth straight ranked opponent for NC State, with the Wolfpack picking up wins over No. 71 Old Dominion and on the road at No. 33 Kentucky. The Red and White are led by sophomore Nick Cavaday, who has used a 5-2 record against ranked opponents to attain his No. 64 national ranking.

Double the Fun
Doubles has been critical to Carolina’s success this season, as USC has captured at least two of the three doubles matches in eight of its 10 contests. Geraldo Knorr and Yevgeny Supeko, ranked 47th in the latest Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings, and have compiled a 5-0 record this spring. Eklund and Cuellar, who led the team in doubles wins a year ago, are vying to become the first tandem to lead USC in doubles wins in back-to-back seasons since Richard Ashby and Jan Sandberg did it in 1985-86.

Coming Up Next
Following Saturday’s match with North Carolina State, USC plays its first road match of the year on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at Wake Forest. USC kicks off its 2006 conference slate with a pair of home matches against No. 24 Mississippi State and No. 5 Ole Miss on March 3 and 5.