March 7, 2007
UGA-UT Match Notes
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The No. 46 University of South Carolina men’s tennis team hosts a pair of Southeastern Conference foes this weekend at the Sam Daniel Tennis Facility in Columbia. The Gamecocks welcome the nation’s top-ranked team, the Georgia Bullodgs, on Friday, March 9, at 2 p.m. On Sunday, Carolina will entertain No. 38 Tennessee, beginning at 1 p.m. Live match updates will be available online at USCsports.com.
USC Opens With SEC Split
South Carolina opened the Southeastern Conference portion of its schedule with a road trip to Mississippi last weekend. The Gamecocks staged a dramatic, come-from-behind win over No. 54 Mississippi State last Friday. With the Bulldogs leading 3-2, Carolina needed wins by freshmen in the two remaining singles matches to clinch a team victory. Ivan Cressoni pulled off the win at No. 4 singles, taking both sets in a tiebreaker. At the No. 5 spot, David Wolff split sets and trailed 5-2, 40-15 in the third. The rookie battled all the way back to force a tiebreaker and won it 7-3 to clinch the South Carolina victory.
The Gamecocks had a tougher go of it in Oxford Sunday, falling to No. 6 Ole Miss, 4-0, to even their league record at 1-1.
Georgia maintained its No. 1 ranking in the latest Fila Collegiate Tennis Poll (March 6). Not only to the 2006 SEC Champion Bulldogs hold the top ranking, senior John Isner is listed at the top of the singles and doubles rankings, along with partener Luis Flores. Travis Helgeson and Flores are ranked No. 9 and 10, respectively in the singles poll as well. Helgeson and Matic Omerzel are No. 8 in the doubles rankings.
UGA is 12-0 on the season and 2-0 in SEC play after securing wins over Arkansas (7-0) and No. 20 LSU (6-1) last weekend.
Earlier this season, the Bulldogs captured the ITA Team Indoor Championship by winning four matches in four days. UGA defeated No. 3 Virginia and No. 2 Ohio State on its way to the crown. Manny Diaz is Georgia’s head coach.
Tennessee sports a 7-3 record and a 1-1 mark in SEC matches heading into the weekend. The Volunteers split a pair of conference matches over the weekend, falling to No. 20 LSU 4-3, but rebounding to shut out Arkansas, 7-0. Tennessee is ranked No. 38 in the latest Fila Collegiate Tennis Poll. In addition, two UT players, Kaden Hensel (No. 29) and Bobby Cameron (No. 30) appear in the top 30 of the singles poll. Cameron and Hensel combine to form the nation’s No. 19 doubles team while Ben Rogers and Adam Hubble are ranked No. 39. Tennessee will play at No. 26 Florida on Friday before making the trip to Columbia.
The Vols are coached by Sam Winterbotham.
Georgia holds a 23-6 advantage in the all-time series with South Carlina. The Gamecocks won the last meeting between the two teams in Columbia, taking down the No. 8 Bulldogs, 4-3, in 2005. UGA won last year’s contest, 7-0, in Athens.
Tennesse owns a slight edge, 21-17, all-time against Carolina. The two teams split a pair of matches in 2006. The Vols won the regular season meeting, 4-1 in Knoxville, but the Gamecocks retaliated with a 4-3 victory in the SEC Tournament.
Cool Under Pressure
South Carolina has been in its share of close matches over the last three seasons and all have produced the same results — wins. Dating back to the end of the 2004 season, coach Kent DeMars’ Gamecocks are 13-0 in matches decided by a 4-3 score. Carolina is 2-0 in 4-3 contests in 2007 with wins over Georgia Tech (Feb. 27) and Mississippi State (March 4). In 2006, the team had a 4-0 record in matches decided by the same score. In addition, the 2005 squad produced a 6-0 record in 4-3 matches. Amazingly, all 13 of the victories came against ranked opponents, three of which were among the top 15. Five of those matches were against top-25 teams.
Strong SEC Starts
The Gamecocks have won five of their last six Southeastern Conference openers following a 4-3 triumph at Mississippi State on March 2.
Junior Yevgeny Supeko will miss this weekend’s matches as he is out while recovering from wrist surgery. Senior Pedro Rodrigues is listed as day-to-day with a shoulder injury that will require surgery at the conclusion of the season. Junior Jaime Cuellar suffered a knee injury on Feb. 4 and is out for the remainder of the season.
Earning His Stripes
Freshman David Wolff pulled off the biggest win of his young Gamecock career on March 2 at Mississippi State. With the match tied 3-3, Wolff’s No. 5 singles contest would prove to be the deciding match. Wolff won the opening set, 6-4, but dropped the second 6-2 and found himself down 5-2 and facing three match points in the game. The Sarasota, Fla., dug deep and forced a third set tiebreaker. He closed out the match, 7-3, in the tiebreak to seal Carolina’s victory.
Relying on Rookies
South Carolina has four freshmen on its roster and all of them have seen significant action this season. Of the 72 slots (six positions in 12 dual matches), 44 have been occupied by freshmen. Each member of the quartet has been in the doubles lineup at least one time this spring.
Rank and File
South Carolina is No. 46 in this week’s Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings. Yevgeny Supeko is also No. 123 in the singles rankings.
Defending the Home Turf
Historically, the Gamecocks have been a tough out at home. All-time, South Carolina has collected a 416-127 record playing at home for a .766 winning percentage. That record includes an 8-2 mark in Columbia so far this season.
South Carolina will step out of conference play for a March 15 contest at UNLV. The Gamecocks return to SEC play March 23 and 25 with home matches against LSU and Arkansas, respectively