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April 13, 2006

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina women’s tennis team will close out the 2006 regular season hosting No. 3 Florida on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Maxcy Gregg Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. The Gators will host next week’s SEC Tournament over April 20-23 at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, Fla.

The Gamecocks stand 11-8 overall and are 4-6 in the Southeastern Conference, putting them in sixth place in the Eastern Division. Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, South Carolina will be seeded eighth for next week’s SEC Tournament. USC will play Mississippi in the first round no matter if the Lady Rebels defeat Mississippi State or not on Saturday.

South Carolina posted a 0-2 record last week, falling at Kentucky 5-2 and at home to Vanderbilt by the same score. The bright spot of the weekend came against the Commodores when USC rookie Gira Schofield upended No. 15 Amanda Fish in straight sets at the top singles position. Schofield is currently rated No. 53 in the country and is joined in the rankings by classmate Natasa Vuckovic, who is No. 122.

Florida comes in with a 17-1 record and is 10-0 in the SEC, giving the Gators at least a share of the conference title. The Gators have won a league title of some kind in 24 of the 27 years the SEC has crowned a women’s tennis champion. Florida’s only setback this year was a 4-3 decision at North Carolina on Feb. 26, and it comes into Saturday’s match having won 11 straight.

The Gators have multiple players listed among the ITA singles and doubles rankings. Sophomore Diana Srebrovic leads the pack at No. 3, followed by senior Alexis Gordon at No. 22 and senior Boglarka Berecz at No. 43. In doubles, Gordon is rated 28th with sophomore Whitney Benik, and Srebrovic is 36th with sophomore Lolita Frangulyan. Florida also boasts the Nos. 52 and 53 doubles duos of Benik and junior Nina Suvak, and Suvak and freshman Keri Robison.

USC trails the all-time series with Florida 2-27. The Gamecocks’ two victories came in consecutive years in 1981 and 1982, the latter of which occurred in the first NCAA Championship in Salt Lake City by a 5-4 score. South Carolina won by the same score the year prior in Columbia.

Saturday marks the final home match for USC seniors Danielle Wiggins and Justine Walsh. Wiggins saw limited action this season following shoulder surgery prior to the fall and a sprained ankle suffered in practice in mid-March. Her all-time singles record is 54-40 and in doubles she has gone 55-41. Wiggins achieved a career-high singles ranking of No. 25 in fall 2004 following a spring campaign that saw her post a 15-8 dual match singles record at the No. 1 position, good for second-team All-SEC honors. The Jacksonville, Fla., native and sport and entertainment management major also earned SEC Academic Honor Roll accolades as a sophomore and junior. In 2004, Wiggins was named the team’s Most Valuable Player.

Walsh is a four-year letterwinner for the Gamecocks, having spent most of her time playing the No. 6 singles position. Originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Walsh owns a career record of 56-39 in singles and is 18-26 in doubles. She played in all but one SEC match between the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Academically, Walsh earned a spot on the SEC Academic Honor Roll as a sophomore and junior and has been named to the Dean’s List six times in the seven semesters she has completed at South Carolina. Walsh is on pace to earn her bachelor’s degree in accounting.