March 22, 2007
Columbia, S.C. – The No. 55 University of South Carolina tennis team will take on a pair of SEC western division foes, when they face the No. 10 Louisiana State Tigers and the Arkansas Razorbacks this weekend at the Sam Daniel Tennis Facility in Columbia. The Gamecocks will welcome LSU Friday at 2 p.m., followed by a 1 p.m. meeting Sunday with Arkansas. All matches are free to the public and live stats will be available on USCsports.com
Carolina is coming off a 4-3 victory, March 15 over UNLV, the 13th straight victory for the Gamecocks in a 4-3 match. The Gamecocks improved to 10-6 with the win, and more importantly ended a three-match losing streak. USC welcomed back Yevgeny Supeko from a wrist injury against the Rebels. Supeko continued his winning ways by defeating Brett Hunter in straight sets at No. 2 singles and improving to 12-0 on the spring.
The Gamecocks’ 10-6 record is impressive considering the number of top teams that the squad has faced. Five out of out of six losses have come against teams ranked in the top 30, with the sixth loss coming to No. 43 Elon. Wins have also been hard to come by in the always-difficult SEC schedule, where the Gamecocks sit at 1-3.
Scouting the Tigers
Tenth-ranked LSU is 11-2 overall, and 3-1 in conference play. The Tigers are coming off their biggest win of the season after defeating No. 6 Illinois 4-3 on Tuesday. The team’s only losses have come at the hands of No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Ohio State. In addition to Ohio State and Illinois, the Tigers have played an unusually difficult out-of-conference schedule, which includes wins against Texas A&M, Rice University and TCU. The squad has also not surrendered a point to a team ranked less than 72. LSU is led by No. 21 Ken Skupski, who, despite rigorous competition at the top of the singles lineup, has compiled a 7-5 record. The Tigers also have two other ranked singles players in No. 37 Danny Bryan and No. 86 Kevin Dessauer, as well as two top 10 doubles teams. James Cluskey and Ken Skupski combine to form the No. 5 tandem while Danny Bryan and Colt Gaston rank at No. 9 in the country.
A Look at Arkansas
Since rattling off four straight wins in early February, the Razorbacks, 6-13, (0-4 SEC) have lost 10 out of 11 matches, including their last seven. Arkansas, which has been ranked as high as 30th in the country, has faced a tough schedule with seven of its last nine matches on the road. Sophomore Blake Strode leads the team with a No. 90 ranking nationally in singles.
History of the Series
The Gamecocks hold the advantage over LSU as of late, taking four out of the last six matches from the Tigers. The last time the two teams met in Columbia, Carolina knocked off the No. 9 Tigers, 4-3, on March 6, 2005. The Tigers won last season’s meeting, 7-0, and hold the overall series record, 19-7.
Carolina’s overall record against Arkansas is 10-8, including wins in three of the last five matches. The Razorbacks won the last meeting, 4-0, last season in Fayetteville.