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Feb. 22, 2007

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First Serve
The No. 37 University of South Carolina men’s tennis hosts a pair of matches in Columbia this weekend. The Gamecocks will face Elon on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 1 p.m. before welcoming Samford on Sunday, Feb. 25, at 2 p.m. This is a change from the original scheduled, which called for a doubleheader on Sunday. Weather-permitting, both matches will be played outdoors at the Sam Daniel Tennis Facility.

Entry to all home matches is free and live updates are available online at

After a 6-0 start to the season, South Carolina is looking to get back to its winning ways, since suffering consecutive losses to No. 27 Wake Forest (Feb. 14) and 21st-ranked North Carolina (Feb. 17) in its previous two matches.

Scouting Elon
After claiming a share of the Southern Conference regular season title in 2006, Elon is off to a 5-1 record in 2007. The Phoenix’ only loss has come at the hands of current No. 28 Wake Forest in its opening match. Since the loss, the squad has won its last four matches, including the last three by 7-0 shutouts. In addition, Elon has not dropped a match at the No. 1, 2 or 3 singles spots since playing Wake Forest. Damon Gooch and Mason Schermerhorn are undefeated at first doubles.

Scouting Samford
Samford are currently 1-3 on the season and will face Pfieffer University (Feb. 23) and Davidson (Feb. 24) before making the trip to Columbia. The Bulldogs were picked to finish first in the Ohio Valley Conference for 2007, and are already 1-0 league play after a victory over Jacksonville State.

Samford has faced a tough early schedule that includes losses to Auburn, Texas Tech and Clemson. Junior Renan Silveira is expected to lead the team this season after being voted as the second-best player in the OVC by league coaches. Also on the list was senior Stuart Misner who was chosen at the seventh spot.

Series History
Sunday’s match will mark the fourth meeting between South Carolina and Elon. The Gamecocks are 3-0 against the Phoenix, including a pair 6-1 wins in 2005 and 2006 in Columbia.

South Carolina and Samford will play for fifth time. USC has a 4-0 record against the Bulldogs with the last win coming in 2005, 7-0.

Rank and File
Two Gamecocks appear in the first 2007 poll Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings, which were released on Feb. 21. Junior Yevgeny Supeko is No. 58 among the singles top 100. In addition, Supeko combined with freshman Pedro Campos for a No. 42 ranking in the doubles top 60.

Relying on Rookies
South Carolina has four freshmen on its roster and all of them have seen significant action this season. Of the 48 slots (six positions in eight dual matches), 29 have been occupied by freshmen. Each member of the quartet has been in the doubles lineup at least one time this spring. Ivan Cressoni is 7-1 and Pedro Campos is 5-3. David Wolff owns a 5-2 record while Spencer Feldman’s record stands at 4-2.

Supeko on a Roll
Junior Yevgeny Supeko has gotten off to an excellent start during dual match play, racking up an 8-0 singles record. Supeko is 16-4 overall and currently holds a 10-match win streak. The Daytona Beach, Fla., product also led Carolina in singles victories last season with 18. Supeko played his freshman season at Texas A&M before transferring to USC for 2005-06.

Grizzled Veteran
If South Carolina’s new players need help learning the ropes of college tennis, they have to look no further than Pedro Rodrigues, the lone senior on this year’s team. Rodrigues has been a the Gamecock starter since his freshman year and has played every position in the lineup. The Brasilia, Brazil, native has been a part of three NCAA Tournament teams and played in the 2005 NCAA Doubles Championship and helped the Gamecocks to their best SEC finish (4th) in 2005. Rodrigues has been somewhat limited early in the season as is he coming back from a shoulder injury suffered during the fall.

Defending the Home Turf
Historically, the Gamecocks have been a tough out at home. All-time, South Carolina has collected a 414-126 record playing at home for a .767 winning percentage. That record includes a 6-1 mark in Columbia so far this season.

NCAA Streak
South Carolina holds an active streak of 13 straight NCAA Tournament bids. The string of postseason trips ranks eighth nationally and head coach Kent DeMars is fourth among active coaches for consecutive appearances. All-time, the Gamecocks have competed in 18 NCAA Championships, including 17 under DeMars.

Don’t Back Down
Not only does South Carolina compete in what is arguably the nation’s most difficult tennis conference, the Gamecocks may face one the country’s toughest schedules overall. In addition to the 11-match SEC slate, Carolina will play four ACC foes in Wake Forest, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Clemson. A total of 11 teams that played in the 2006 NCAA Tournament appear on the Gamecocks’ schedule and seven of those matches will be played at home in Columbia. In the latest poll (Feb. 21), five Gamecock opponents are in the top 25 and 12 appear in the top 40.

Individual, Doubles Records
A look at each Gamecock player’s singles and doubles records:

Player   Singles DoublesPedro Campos    15-7    14-2Ivan Cressoni  7-1 4-4Spencer Feldman  8-7 1-4Pedro Rodrigues 4-2 5-3Thomas Stoddard  5-6 3-8Yevgeny Supeko    16-4    13-3Joseph Veeder  2-5 0-4David Wolff  10-7    3-6

Next Up
South Carolina hosts No. 40 Georgia Tech on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at home before heading on the road to start SEC play at Mississippi State (March 2) and Mississippi (March 4).