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April 20, 2006


Tuscaloosa, Ala. – South Carolina’s men’s tennis team pulled out its most dramatic victory of 2006 on Thursday, downing 10th-seeded Tennessee, 4-3, in the first round of the SEC Tournament. Senior Adam Adler and redshirt freshman Thomas Stoddard clinched the doubles point for Carolina (14-13, 5-6 SEC), and Adler sealed the win with his 13-11 win in the third set tiebreaker at No. 6 singles. USC now turns its attention to SEC East rival and second-seeded Florida, who it will face in Friday’s quarterfinals.

The doubles matches started off well for Carolina, as 47th-ranked Tom Eklund and Pedro Rodrigues easily upset No. 31 Ben Rogers and Adam Hubble at No. 1 doubles, 8-4. The Volunteers answered back on court two however, as Bobby Cameron and Kaden Hensel downed USC’s Yevgeny Supeko and Jaime Cuellar by the same scoreline. The vital doubles point would come down to No. 3 doubles, where Carolina’s Adam Adler and Thomas Stoddard were facing Tennessee’s David Baxendine and Johnny Thornton. The Gamecock duo raced out to a 7-3 lead, and then staved off a late rally by the Volunteers and held on to clinch the point with an 8-6 victory.

Singles would be just as evenly matched, as the two teams split all six first sets, with Carolina taking the opening stanzas on courts two, three and four. Supeko would extend USC’s lead to 2-0, winning in his first SEC Tournament appearance, 6-3, 6-1, over Rogers at No. 4 singles. UT’s Cameron rallied in the second set to split with Cuellar at No. 2 singles, but Carolina’s Dmitry Babenko answered back, leveling his match with Derek Stephens at one set apiece on court five. Stephens held off Babenko in the third set however, and pulled Tennessee to within a point at 2-1. The Volunteers then tied the dual match at two, with Cameron’s three-set win over Cuellar on court two, and it was down to courts one, three and six. Carolina senior Tom Eklund put his side back in front, taking the top singles match in three sets over Kaden Hensel. But the drama only increased from there, as Tennessee’s Kiril Tcherveniachki defeated Rodrigues in three sets at No. 3 singles to even the match at 3-3.

With the match all square, the focus shifted to court six, where Adler was matched-up with UT’s Hubble. The pair traded 6-3 set wins in the first two frames, and Adler fought back to level the deciding set at 6-6 and force a tiebreaker. The Carolina senior and Tennessee freshman traded points back and forth the entire breaker, and had nearly ten match point opportunities between them. In the end, with Adler serving for the match at 12-11, he forced Hubble to hit a return just long along the inner sideline to clinch the victory for the Gamecocks.

With the win, South Carolina advances to the quarterfinals for the seventh time since joining the SEC in 1992, and will meet a Florida squad that it will be facing for the sixth time in three years. The USC-UF match is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. (CT) at the Alabama Tennis Complex.