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April 6, 2006

Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina’s men’s tennis team will host Senior Day this Friday, April 7, at the Sam Daniel Tennis Center on USC’s campus in Columbia. The Gamecocks (11-11, 3-5 SEC) will face the 21st-ranked Kentucky Wildcats at 2 p.m., in their final home match of 2006. Carolina is riding a two-match SEC winning streak into Friday’s match against UK (15-5, 6-2), and has won three of its last five contests overall. Live stats will be available for the match at Carolina’s official athletic website,

Scouting the Gamecocks
South Carolina picked up its first weekend sweep of Southeastern Conference opponents last weekend, dispatching then-No. 48 Auburn, 4-3, on March 31, and coming back from a 3-0 deficit to upset 40th-ranked Alabama by the same margin two days later. The Gamecocks used those wins to propel themselves up 13 spots in this week’s Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings to No. 43, their largest single-week jump in the rankings since last year’s squad rocketed up a school-record 25 spots between Mar. 1 and Mar. 8, 2005.

For the Wildcats
Kentucky comes into this weekend’s play sitting in second place in the SEC East, and in a three-way tie for second overall with LSU and Ole Miss, at 6-2 in conference play. The 21st-ranked Wildcats’ biggest wins came in early March, as they knocked off a pair of Top 20 opponents in LSU and Arkansas, on March 10 and 12. UK nearly claimed two more Top 20 wins however, dropping a 5-2 decision to No. 5 Baylor in Waco, Texas on Feb. 24, and coming up just short, 4-3, against No. 4 Ohio State on Feb. 5. The `Cats are led by three nationally-ranked singles players, freshman Bruno Agostinelli (No. 58) and seniors Nate Emge (No. 115) and Alex Hume (No. 56).

The Series
South Carolina and Kentucky met for the first time ever in men’s tennis during the 1974 season, with the Wildcats claiming a 6-3 win in Columbia. The Gamecocks went on to take each of the next four meetings, but UK has been on top in the series since the USC joined the SEC in 1992, and leads the overall series 19-8. The last time Carolina emerged victorious was back-to-back victories in 2000 and 2001.

Inside the Standings
The Southeastern Conference is one of the nation’s top tennis conferences, evidenced by the fact that the league has six teams in the latest Top 25 rankings, tied with the ACC for the most of any conference in the country. That depth is obvious in the SEC standings as well. Seven teams are within three matches of one another for spots two through eight, including the Gamecocks. No. 1-ranked Georgia leads the league with a perfect record at 19-0 overall and 8-0 in the conference, but that’s the clearest picture in the league. UK, LSU and Ole Miss are locked in the second spot at 6-2, Florida in fifth at 5-3, and Arkansas in sixth at 4-4. Carolina is in the next group, tied with Auburn for seventh at 3-5, while Vanderbilt, Alabama and Tennessee are in the ninth slot. Mississippi State rounds out the league with a 1-7 record. Were the season to end before this weekend’s matches, USC would garner the seventh seed in the SEC Championships, based on SEC tiebreak rules. The Garnet and Black would face 10th-seeded Vanderbilt in the first round, with the right to take on No. 2 seed Ole Miss in the quarterfinals on the line.

Home, Sweet Home
Carolina’s men’s tennis teams have long found success playing on their home courts in Columbia. The Gamecocks own a 390-107 (.785) all-time record at home. With a 10-3 mark at home thus far in 2006, the Gamecocks have assured themselves of their 33rd winning season at home since dual match competition began in 1973, and have also secured a double-digit win total for the fifth consecutive season and the 11th time in 15 seasons of SEC competition. In fact, USC has suffered just a single losing record at home, when it went 3-5 during the 1988 campaign.

Up Next
The Gamecocks will hit the road for each of their three remaining regular season matches in 2006, beginning with a trip to Vanderbilt this Sunday, April 9, at noon. Carolina will be the final opponent the Commodores host in 2006 at the Currey Tennis Center in Nashville. USC and VU have met 17 times since the series began in 1984, with the Gamecocks taking 11 of those meetings. The last time the two schools met in Nashville was in the first round of the 2004 SEC Tournament, when Carolina upset the 21st-ranked Commodores, 4-3. Following this weekend’s action, two of the biggest matches of the year await USC, as it travels to the Upstate to face archrival Clemson on Wednesday, April 12, followed by a meeting with SEC East rival Florida on April 15 in Gainesville to close out the 2006 regular season.

Adios Sen(i)ors!
Gamecock seniors Adam Adler, Tom Eklund and Geraldo Knorr will be competing in the final home match of their careers on Friday against UK. Brief profiles of the three follow below:

Adam Adler (Coastal Carolina University / Myrtle Beach, S.C.)
Senior Adam Adler is a two-time letterman for the Garnet and Black, having transferred from Coastal Carolina University prior to the 2005 season. The native of Miami, Fla., posted a combined 14-5 mark in all matches a year ago for the Gamecocks, including a 5-1 record in dual match singles, playing at Nos. 5 and 6. Adler has succeeded off the court as well, making the Dean’s List both semesters of his first year at Carolina. Adler is the son of Susan and Lenny Adler, and chose USC over North Carolina and Wake Forest.

Senior Tom Eklund (Akademi Bastad / Hollviken, Sweden)
Senior Tom Eklund has earned four letters at South Carolina, having spent each of the last two seasons at No. 1 singles for the Gamecocks. The Hollviken, Sweden, native owns a 72-48 (.600) mark in his singles career, and has registered back-to-back 20-win seasons coming into 2006. Eklund was named to the 2005 All-SEC first team, becoming the eighth Gamecock to be named All-SEC in singles, and the first to be named to the top team since Guillaume Legat in 2001. Eklund also made the 2005 NCAA Singles Championships field, and began the 2005-06 pre-season ranked a career-best 15th by the ITA. Eklund has succeeded in doubles as well, having posted 34 wins in the last two seasons. The senior has twice led the team in doubles victories, teaming with Marcus Westman for 15 wins in 2004, and partnering with Jaime Cuellar to record 17 wins last season. He has also received numerous honors off the court, having been named a finalist for the 2006 H. Boyd McWhorter Award, presented annually to the SEC’s most-outstanding senior student-athlete, based on both athletic and academic performances. In addition, Eklund has been named to the 2004 and 2005 SEC Academic Honor Roll.

Senior Geraldo Knorr (Catiranense / Florianopolis, Brazil)
Senior Geraldo Knorr has also left his stamp on South Carolina tennis, having earned a letter in each of his four seasons in Columbia. The Florianopolis, Brazil native had an excellent doubles season in 2005, posting five wins over ranked opponents with partner Pedro Rodrigues. The duo also earned their way into the 32-team NCAA Doubles Championships, becoming the first USC tandem to make the field since 1998. That mark was the second time Knorr etched his name in USC’s record books however, as the previous year the then-sophomore rattled off 25 singles wins to lead the 2004 squad in that category. As with so many other Gamecocks, off the court success has found Knorr as well. A Business Administration major, Knorr has been named to successive SEC Academic Honor Roll in 2004 and 2005.