Feb. 25, 2006
Columbia, S.C. – The South Carolina men’s tennis took another tough loss on Saturday, falling, 5-2, to ACC-border rival North Carolina State at the USC Indoor Facility in Columbia. The Gamecocks (6-5, 0-0 SEC) fell just short of winning the doubles point and USC got singles wins from Tom Eklund and Geraldo Knorr. The loss is just the third for Carolina in the last 20 matches of the rivalry, and first since the 1999 season.
N.C. State got off to a quick start in doubles, and held leads on all three courts early. Carolina battled back to take the lead on court two, where Eklund and Jaime Cuellar won six of the eight middle games in their pro set, and kept the match on serve after the first four games on court one. But the Gamecocks’ top two doubles teams couldn’t quite hang on for the wins, and dropped just their third doubles point of the year.
Singles would be just as tight as doubles on the whole, as Carolina and N.C. State split the top four singles matches. The Gamecocks got a pair of quality wins from seniors Tom Eklund and Knorr at Nos. 1 and 4 singles, respectively. Eklund, a 2005 first team all-SEC selection, may have played his best match of the spring season on Saturday, easily upsetting 64th-ranked Nick Cavaday, 6-2, 6-2. Knorr and his opponent, Jay Weinacker, played a tight first set, with the Carolina senior taking the set in a tiebreaker. Knorr outplayed Weinacker in the second set though, and tied the match at 2-2, with a 6-3 win in the second set.
The Wolfpack took a 3-2 lead after Andre Iriarte’s victory over USC’s Jaime Cuellar at No. 2 singles, and the match would come down to the final two matches of the day at Nos. 5 and 6 singles. Carolina’s Adam Adler faced William Noblitt in No. 5 singles on court one, while redshirt freshman Thomas Stoddard squared off with Will Shaw on court three. Stoddard and Shaw traded games throughout the first set and were neck and neck until the end of the opening stanza, when the Greenwood, S.C. native was broken in his final service game and dropped the set 7-5. N.C. State would clinch the dual match win before Stoddard’s match concluded however, as Noblitt downed Adler 6-2, 6-1 at No. 5 singles to seal the Wolfpack’s win.
The Gamecocks, who have struggled with injuries to two of their six starters for most of the season, are in the middle a five-match skid, their longest losing streak since the 2000 season. Carolina will try to get back on the winning side this Tuesday, when they play their first true road contest of the year in Winston-Salem, N.C. against No. 15 Wake Forest. USC leads the all-time series between the two schools, 23-4, and has taken nine of the last 10, including a 4-3 upset of the Demon Deacons in Columbia last season.