March 2, 2006
The University of South Carolina men’s tennis team (7-5, 0-0 SEC) kicks off its 2005 Southeastern Conference slate this weekend as No. 27 Mississippi State and No. 5 Ole Miss visit Columbia. The Gamecocks will tangle with the Bulldogs Friday, March 3, at 2 p.m. and will meet the Rebels Sunday, March 5, at 1 p.m. Both matches will be played at the Sam Daniel Tennis Facility, located on Heyward Street across from Stone Stadium. Live updates throughout both contests will be available on South Carolina’s official athletics web site, uscsports.com.
Gamecocks Pull Upset at No. 13 Wake Forest
South Carolina, ranked No. 47 in the latest Fila ITA Tennis Poll, is coming off a big win on Tuesday. The Gamecocks earned a 4-3 victory on the road at No. 13 Wake Forest. The victory snapped the Gamecocks five-match losing streak as USC continued to play without a pair key singles players who are injured. Carolina captured the doubles point behind wins from the tandem of Geraldo Knorr and Yevgeny Supeko at No. 1 doubles and Tom Eklund and Jaime Cuellar at No. 2 doubles. The Gamecocks also got singles wins from Cuellar, Supeko and senior Adam Adler. Cuellar’s three-set victory over No. 64 Andrew Hamar clinched the match for the Garnet and Black.
Knorr and Supeko hold down the No. 47 spot in the latest national doubles rankings. The duo sports a 6-1 record this spring. Eklund and Cuellar are 8-2 in doubles play. The Gamecocks have secured the doubles point in nine of 12 matches this season. Knorr leads Carolina with a 9-2 record in singles play this spring.
Bitten By the Injury Bug
South Carolina has had to battle injury in the early going this season. Junior Pedro Rodrigues has missed Carolina’s last nine matches with an ankle injury, while teammate Dmitry Babenko has been limited by a back ailment.
In 2005, South Carolina orchestrated a program best fourth-place finish in the SEC with a 6-5 record. The Gamecocks recorded four SEC wins over top 25 opponents, including No. 9 LSU, No. 17 Tennessee, No. 8 Georgia and No. 15 Mississippi State. The SEC is regarded as the nation’s toughest men’s tennis conference. Last season, 10 of 12 league teams earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament.
About Mississippi State
Mississippi State, ranked No. 27 in the latest Fila ITA Poll, brings a 2-1 record into Friday’s match. The Bulldogs have been idle since a 4-2 win over South Alabama on Feb. 17.
The Gamecocks trail the Bulldogs, 11-6, in the all-time series. MSU also leads, 5-2, in matches played in Columbia.
Gamecocks, Rebels Meet Again
South Carolina and Ole Miss have already played once this season. The two SEC rivals hooked up on Feb. 17 in the opening round of the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle, Wash. The Rebels came away with a 4-1 victory. South Carolina claimed the doubles point, but the Rebels responded with four singles wins to seal the match.
About Ole Miss
The fifth-ranked Rebels own a 7-1 record and will play two matches before making their way to Columbia. Ole Miss faces North Florida on Thursday before opening SEC play on Friday at Florida.
Ole Miss finished tied for fifth at the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships. After defeating South Carolina, the Rebels fell to Pepperdine, 4-2. They bounced back to take a 4-2 victory over top-seeded Florida in their third and final match.