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April 6, 2006

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina women’s tennis team will face the 22nd-ranked Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington, Ky., on Friday at 4 p.m. before hosting No. 7 Vanderbilt on Sunday at 1 p.m. Only three regular-season matches remain for the Gamecocks, with the finale coming Saturday, April 15, when they host No. 3 Florida at 1 p.m. at the Maxcy Gregg Tennis Center.

The Gamecocks (11-6, 4-4 SEC) are currently in sixth place in the SEC East and tied for sixth overall with Alabama. Georgia and Tennessee are ahead of South Carolina at 5-3, Kentucky is in third with a 7-1 mark and Florida and Vanderbilt are tied at 8-0. USC will look to grab its first victory against an SEC East team this weekend, as it lost to Georgia and Tennessee earlier in the year.

The series records favor Kentucky and Vanderbilt, but not by much. UK has a 12-10 advantage on the Gamecocks and Vandy holds a slight 11-10 edge. In 2005, South Carolina registered its biggest win of the year in Nashville, Tenn., when it knocked out the then-No. 5 Commodores 5-2. Kentucky has won four straight over USC, with three of its victories coming by one point.

South Carolina is coming off a 1-1 week on the road against the SEC West. USC dropped Auburn 6-1 before coming up on the short end of a 4-3 decision against Alabama. In the loss to the Crimson Tide, freshman Gira Schofield managed to upset the nation’s then-No. 12-ranked player Robin Stephenson in straight sets. Schofield is ranked No. 53 in the latest ITA rankings and is joined by classmate Natasa Vuckovic, who is 122nd.

Kentucky (14-6, 7-1 SEC) enters Friday’s match-up having won six in a row and eight of its last nine. Last week, UK downed Georgia 4-3 and Tennessee 6-1 in Lexington. The Wildcats’ only loss in SEC play this season came against Alabama by a 4-3 count in early March. Kim Coventry leads the Wildcats with a No. 47 ranking and 24-15 overall record. She is also rated No. 48 in doubles with Joelle Schwenk.

Vanderbilt (18-2, 8-0 SEC) will square off with Florida on Friday before traveling to Columbia, S.C., to face the Gamecocks. The Commodores are currently enjoying an eight-match winning streak, and their only two losses this year came against TCU and Georgia Tech. Vandy was a 7-0 winner against Tennessee last week and upended Georgia 5-2. The Commodores have three ranked singles players with Amanda Fish (15), Taka Bertrand (45) and Amanda Taylor (88).