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March 23, 2006

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina women’s tennis team returns to SEC play Friday hosting the LSU Tigers at 2 p.m. at the Maxcy Gregg Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. On Sunday, USC will host the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks at 1 p.m.

The Gamecocks (9-4, 2-2 SEC) wrapped up their non-conference schedule Sunday with a 6-1 triumph over Winthrop. USC won all three doubles contests and only dropped No. 6 singles against the Eagles. In its previous two SEC matches, South Carolina fell 4-3 to Tennessee and 6-1 to Georgia.

LSU (9-5, 0-4 SEC) began the year with eight consecutive wins but has lost five of its last six. On Tuesday, the Tigers were 4-3 losers to Kansas after snapping a four-match skid against Prairie View A&M the week prior. The Tigers have won just one point in their four SEC matches against Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

Arkansas (4-7, 0-4 SEC) takes on sixth-ranked Florida in Gainesville, Fla., on Friday before facing the Gamecocks two days later. The Lady Razorbacks have currently lost their last six matches in a row against the likes of Georgia, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Baylor and SMU. The UT and SMU contests were decided by one-point margins.

South Carolina holds the series advantage over both teams, leading LSU 15-1 and Arkansas 16-2. The Tigers got their first win over the Gamecocks last year in Baton Rouge, La., by a 4-3 score. USC has won seven straight over the Lady’Backs, with the last Arkansas victory coming in a 5-4 decision March 21, 1999, in Fayetteville, Ark.

The Gamecocks have two ranked singles players in their lineup with freshmen Gira Schofield and Natasa Vuckovic. Schofield is currently 68th and Vuckovic is rated No. 115. The two have been ranked as high as 46th and 62nd this year.

Like USC, Arkansas has two rookies among the singles rankings as well. Aurelija Miseviciute is No. 23 and Ela Kaluder comes in at 53rd. LSU has no ranked singles players or doubles teams.

South Carolina will play on the road for the first time since March 5 when it travels to Auburn, Ala., on March 31 to face the Tigers at 7 p.m. USC and Alabama meet in Tuscaloosa, Ala., two days later at 2 p.m.