March 3, 2006
Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina’s men’s tennis team knocked off 27th-ranked Mississippi State in both teams Southeastern Conference openers on Friday, taking a 5-2 win at the Sam Daniels Tennis Center in Columbia. The Gamecocks (8-5, 1-0 SEC) have now defeated MSU (2-2, 0-1 SEC) in five straight matches, dating back to the 2002 season. Carolina continues its conference play when it hosts No. 5 Ole Miss on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Carolina got off to a hot start in doubles on court number two, with senior Tom Eklund and sophomore Jaime Cuellar breezing to their 10th doubles win of the year with an 8-2 triumph over Philippe Frayssinoux and Pierre Mouillon of MSU. Ryan Farlow and Florent Girod would even the point with their 8-5 win over USC’s Thomas Stoddard and Joseph Veeder at No. 3 doubles, but the Gamecocks’ 47th-ranked duo of Geraldo Knorr and Yevgeny Supeko earned the only service break of their No. 1 doubles match in the final game, breaking Jose-Carlos Pinto on their second match point to pick up their fifth 9-7 win in their last eight matches and Carolina’s 10th doubles point of the season.
USC raced out to a quick lead on courts one and six in singles, as Eklund and Stoddard took 6-2 and 6-0 leads, respectively. Farlow came back to split sets with Stoddard at No. 6, but Eklund completed his 70th career win and extended the lead to 2-0 with his one-hour and eight minute win at No. 1 singles. MSU pulled back a point at No. 4 singles, where Moullion handed Knorr just his third loss of the spring, 6-2, 6-3. The Gamecocks’ Adler put Carolina back up by two with his a win in his first career SEC match shortly thereafter, defeating Girod 7-5, 6-3 at No. 5 singles. The Bulldogs’ Farlow would take the No. 6 singles match from Stoddard in three sets to get Mississippi State within one at 3-2.
With the sun dropping behind the houses outside court three, the focus shifted to courts two and three, where Suepko and Cuellar were trying to lock up the upset. Supeko dropped his first set in a tiebreaker, but stormed back to take the second set and a 5-2 lead in the third. On his first match point opportunity, and with the Gamecock faithful chanting and stomping the stands behind him, Supeko forced Pinto’s forehand long to clinch the victory for Carolina. Leading, 4-2, Cuellar was given the opportunity to finish his match off at No. 2 singles, and did so within three minutes of the conclusion of Supeko’s win, coming back from a 7-5 first set loss to take the next two sets 6-4, 6-4, to put the exclamation point on the upset.
The Gamecocks, who have now won their first SEC match in four of the last five seasons, turn their attention to fifth-ranked Ole Miss (8-2, 0-1 SEC) who dropped their conference opener to Florida in Gainesville on Friday afternoon. USC upset the then-No. 3 Rebels the last time Ole Miss visited Columbia, taking a 4-2 decision in 2004. The match is set to begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the Sam Daniels Tennis Center. Livestats will be available for the match on South Carolina’s official athletic website, uscsports.com.