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March 25, 2007

Columbia, S.C. — The No. 55 South Carolina men’s tennis team rallied from behind to defeat Arkansas, 4-3, in Southeastern Conference action on Sunday afternoon at the Sam Daniel Tennis Facility in Columbia. The Gamecocks moved to 11-7 on the season and 2-4 in league matches. Today’s victory marked the 15th straight for South Carolina by a 4-3 score.

Arkansas’ record dipped to 6-15 overall and 0-6 in SEC matches.

“When you lose in doubles in the SEC, it’s going to be a long day,” Gamecock head coach Kent DeMars said. “Our team fought hard and I’m proud of them. We had a number of guys playing out of position, but they played their tails off and decided they didn’t want to lose. For three hours, it looked like Arkansas was going to win the match.”

Doubles play would go down to the wire. At the No. 1 position, Arkansas’ 27th-ranked Blake Strode and Colin Mascall defeated Yevgeny Supeko and Pedro Campos, 8-1, to claim an early advantage toward scoring the doubles point. At the No. 3 spot, Gamecock freshmen Ivan Cressoni and David Wolff pushed ahead 7-5, but Gabriel Mattos and Bradwin Williams came back to tie the eight-game pro set at seven games apiece. Carolina reclaimed the lead, 8-7, but Arkansas won the next game to send it to a tiebreak. The Razorbacks quickly jumped ahead and went on to win, 7-1, in the tiebreak and seal the doubles point for Arkansas.

Meanwhile on Court Two, South Carolina’s Thomas Stoddard and Joseph Veeder found themselves in a battle with Dmitry Vlaskin and Jorge Villanueva. The Gamecock tandem eventually prevailed 9-8 (4) in one of the day’s most exciting matches.

Carolina faced a 1-0 deficit and would need four singles wins in order to win its 11th match of the season.

The Razorbacks extended their lead to 2-0 as Strode, who is ranked No. 90, defeated Carolina senior Pedro Rodrigues, 6-1, 6-0. Though Arkansas struck first in singles, South Carolina won the first set on four courts to keep things interesting.

Wolff put South Carolina in the scoring column with a decisive 6-1, 6-1 victory over Vlaskin at No. 5 singles. On Court Three, Campos tied the match 2-2 with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Andrei Nicoara.

Supeko, who is ranked No. 117 nationally, would give South Carolina a 3-2 lead in the match by pulling out a 6-3, 7-5 win over Mascall at No. 2 singles. Moments later, Cressoni wrapped up the Gamecock victory on Court Four. After winning the first 6-4, Cressoni fell behind 3-1 in the second to Dimitry Lebedev. The Carolina freshman fought back to win the second set 6-4 and close out the win for Gamecocks. It marked the second straight time Cressoni’s singles win has secured a Gamecock victory. Cressoni also won the decisive match at UNLV on March 15.

At No. 6 singles, Gamecock freshman Spencer Feldman dropped the opening set, 6-3, to Villanueva, but came out with renewed energy in the second set. By taking the second set 6-3, Feldman forced a third set. Since Carolina already had the match in hand, the two played a 10-point third set tiebreaker to decided the winner. Villanueva came back, winning the breaker 11-9 to score Arkansas’ third point

“We have injury problems, but our guys refuse to use it as an excuse,” DeMars said. “We have four freshmen out there and in a way, it’s refreshing. They weren’t all expected to play this year, but they are using it as a chance to prove they should be out there. Freshmen won for us at numbers 3, 4, and 5 (singles).

Dating back to the end of the 2004 season, DeMars’ Gamecocks have won 15 straight matches that were decided by a 4-3 score. In 2007, Carolina is 4-0 with victories over Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, UNLV and now Arkansas.

The Gamecocks are on the road next weekend to face Auburn and Alabama. Carolina will take on the Tigers Friday, March 30, at 2 p.m. Central Time. The Gamecocks and Crimson Tide will battle on Sunday, April 1, at 1p.m. Central time in Tuscaloosa.

No. 1 #27 Strode/Mascall (ARK) def Campos/Supeko (USC), 8-1
No. 2 Stoddard/Veeder (USC) def Vlaskin/Villanueva (ARK), 9-8 (4)
No. 3 Mattos/Williams (ARK) def Cressoni/Wolff (USC), 9-8(1)
Doubles order of finish 1, 3, 2

No. 1 Blake Strode (ARK) def. Pedro Rodrigues (USC), 6-1, 6-0
No. 2 Yevgeny Supeko (USC) def. Colin Mascall (ARK), 6-3, 7-5
No. 3 Pedro Campos (USC) def. Andrei Nicoara (ARK), 6-3, 6-1
No. 4 Ivan Cressoni (USC) def. Dmitry Lebedev (ARK), 6-4, 6-4
No. 5 David Wolff (USC) def. Dimitry Vlaskin (ARK), 6-1, 6-1
No. 6 Jorge Villanueva (ARK) def. Spencer Feldman (USC) 6-3, 3-6, 1-0 (9)
Order of Finish: 1, 5, 3, 2, 4*, 6

* Clinched the win for South Carolina.