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April 20, 2006

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The South Carolina women’s tennis team fought off an early 1-0 deficit and on-court temperatures that approached 100 degrees Thursday in a 4-1 victory over Mississippi in round one of the SEC Tournament in Gainesville, Fla. Florida is hosting the event at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.

The eighth-seeded Gamecocks (12-9, 4-7 SEC) lost the doubles point to open up the match. Megan McGavock and Justine Walsh from USC downed Carlin Cockran and Preethi Subramanian 8-2 on court three, but ninth-seeded Ole Miss (11-9, 4-7 SEC) responded with victories at the No. 1 and 2 positions by 8-6 scores.

South Carolina stormed back in singles play, winning four matches in straight sets. In a match-up of the SEC’s two Co-Freshman of the Year at No. 1 singles, USC’s Gira Schofield made short work of Kseniia Tokarieva, winning 6-1, 6-1 in a match that lasted a little longer than one hour. The win upped Schofield’s record on the year to 25-10 and 14-7 at the top position.

Less than 10 minutes later, McGavock registered her 20th win of the season with a 6-4, 6-3 decision against Virginia Tomatis on court five. McGavock trailed 3-1 in the second set before running off five games in a row for the victory.

Miranda Gutierrez snagged the Gamecocks’ third point when she upended Subramanian 6-4, 7-6(6) at four singles. Natasa Vuckovic defeated Ilona Somers three minutes later at the No. 2 slot 7-5, 6-4 to clinch the victory for South Carolina.

“We have been struggling in the doubles,” South Carolina head coach Arlo Elkins said. “I don’t know the last time we won the doubles point. We know that we basically have to win the match without the doubles point. I thought we played well in the singles. We came back and fought really hard in the singles. It was hot out there today. Fortunately, I think we weathered the heat a little better than they did.”

The Gamecocks’ Christyn Lucas was leading Nika Koukhartchouk 2-1 in the third set at No. 3 singles when play was stopped. Walsh and Mimi Renaudin were battling in a second-set tiebreaker on court six after Renaudin won the first set 6-3.

USC will next face top-seeded Florida (18-1, 11-0 SEC) on Friday in the quarterfinals at 10 a.m.

#39 South Carolina (12-9, 4-7 SEC) def. #50 Mississippi (11-9, 4-7 SEC), 4-1

1. #51 Gira Schofield, USC, def. #110 Kseniia Tokarieva, UM, 6-1, 6-1
2. Natasa Vuckovic, USC, def. Ilona Somers, UM, 7-5, 6-4
3. Christyn Lucas, USC, vs. Nika Koukhartchouk, UM, 3-6, 6-4, 2-1 suspended
4. Miranda Gutierrez, USC, def. Preethi Subramanian, UM, 6-4, 7-6(6)
5. Megan McGavock, USC, def. Virginia Tomatis, UM, 6-4, 6-3
6. Justine Walsh, USC, vs. Mimi Renaudin, UM, 3-6, 6-6 suspended

Order of finish: 1, 5, 4, 2

1. Somers/Tomatis, UM, def. Schofield/Vuckovic, USC, 8-6
2. Koukhartchouk/Tokarieva, UM, def. Gutierrez/Lucas, USC, 8-6
3. McGavock/Walsh, USC, def. Carlin Cochran/Subramanian, UM, 8-2

Order of finish: 3, 1, 2