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March 12, 2006

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The 19th-ranked South Carolina women’s tennis team fell 4-3 to No. 31 Tennessee on Sunday at the Maxcy Gregg Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. The Gamecocks fell to 8-4 on the year and 2-2 in the SEC, while the Lady Volunteers upped their record to 6-7 and 3-1 in the league.

The Gamecocks dropped a tightly contested doubles point to fall behind 1-0 early. USC’s Miranda Gutierrez and Megan McGavock downed Stephanie Harris and Samantha Orlin at No. 3 doubles 8-5, but UT countered with Melissa Schaub and Ghizela Schutte’s 8-3 victory at the top position.

Christyn Lucas and Danielle Wiggins fell behind 6-3 to the Lady Vol duo of Blakeley Griffith and Victoria Jones, but managed to win five of the next six games to go up 8-7. Griffith and Jones won the 16th game at love to force a tiebreaker.

In the breaker, the Gamecocks had the first match point at 6-5, but the match would continue for several more points. Tennessee was finally able to snag the victory, defeating USC 14-12 in the marathon tiebreaker.

UT took a 2-0 advantage after Schutte won her match at No. 4 singles. She won the first set 6-1 and was up 2-0 when Lucas was forced to retire with an injury. The Gamecocks answered with a victory at the second slot where Vuckovic beat Schaub 6-1, 6-2. Orlin was a 6-4, 6-2 winner on court five against McGavock, and Schofield recorded a 6-2, 6-2 decision over Jones at one singles.

South Carolina picked up a critical win at six singles courtesy of Gutierrez, who trailed 5-2 in the first set to Harris. Gutierrez wound up winning four games in a row and took the first set in a tiebreaker by a 7-1 score. In the second set, she dominated Harris in less than half an hour to win 6-0 and tie the match up at 3-3.

The No. 3 singles spot was the deciding match. Wiggins won the first set 6-1, but Griffith responded with a 6-2 victory in the second. In the third set, Griffith was able to take advantage of her exhausted opponent by grinding out a 6-1 triumph.

South Carolina will take a break from SEC play next week and host Winthrop on Sunday at 1 p.m.

#31 Tennessee (6-7, 2-2 SEC) def. #19 South Carolina (8-4, 2-2 SEC), 4-3

1. #60 Gira Schofield, USC, def. Victoria Jones, UT, 6-2, 6-2
2. #88 Natasa Vuckovic, USC, def. Melissa Schaub, UT, 6-1, 6-2
3. Blakeley Griffith, UT, def. Danielle Wiggins, USC, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1
4. Ghizela Schutte, UT, def. Christyn Lucas, USC, 6-1, 2-0 ret. (inj.)
5. Samantha Orlin, UT, def. Megan McGavock, USC, 6-4, 6-2
6. Miranda Gutierrez, USC, def. Stephanie Harris, UT, 7-6(1), 6-0

Order of finish: 4, 2, 5, 1, 6, 3

1. Schaub/Schutte, UT, def. Schofield/Vuckovic, USC, 8-3
2. Griffith/Jones, UT, def. Lucas/Wiggins, USC, 9-8(12)
3. Gutierrez/McGavock, USC, def. Harris/Orlin, UT, 8-5

Order of finish: 3, 1, 2