April 5, 2007
The No. 53 University of South Carolina men’s tennis team will play once on the road and once at home this week. The Gamecocks travel to Lexington, Ky., for a match with No. 59 Kentucky on Friday, April 6, at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center.
The Gamecocks return to Columbia to host No. 41 Vanderbilt on Easter Sunday, April 8, at 1 p.m. at the Sam Daniel Tennis Center. All USC home matches are free to the public.
Live scoring is available for both matches online at USCsports.com. On the main page, links can be found in the weekly calendar on the right-hand side.
The Gamecocks (11-9, 2-6 SEC) dropped a pair of SEC road matches to ranked opponents last weekend. Carolina fell to No. 44 Auburn, 5-2, on March 30 before suffering a 6-1 loss to No. 16 Alabama on April 1. All nine of USC’s losses have come to teams ranked in the current top 50. The Gamecocks won the doubles point for the eighth time this season against Auburn, but lost five of six singles matches, including a trio of three-set matches, to the Tigers. Freshman Pedro Campos won his 21st singles match and improved to 5-2 at No. 3 singles with a three-set win over the Tigers’ Pawel Dilaj. Senior Pedro Rodrigues proved to be a bright spot for the Gamecocks in the loss to the Crimson Tide. Rodrigues, who continues to battle through a shoulder injury, pulled out a three-set win over Alabama’s Sammy Struyf, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, at No. 2 singles.
Implications in the East
This weekend’s matches are an opportunity for someone to make a move in the SEC East standings. Currently, South Carolina, Kentucky and Vanderbilt are tied for fourth place with a 2-6 record.
Rank and File
South Carolina is No. 53 in this week’s Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings, moving up five spots from the previous week.
Kentucky is 12-11 overall and owns an SEC record identical to South Carolina’s at 2-6. The Wildcats have defeated Alabama, 4-3, (March 4) at home and won at Arkansas, 6-1 (March 11). The Wildcats own a No. 59 ranking this week and have a pair of singles player in the top 125. Bruno Agostinelli has posted an 18-14 record, including a 10-9 mark at No. 1 singles and is No. 90. Will Ward is ranked No. 119 and has a 9-6 record. In addition, Ward combines with Peter Bjork to form the nation’s No. 33 doubles team. The tandem is a perfect 9-0 on the season. Dennis Emery is in his 24th season at the helm of the Wildcat program.
Vanderbilt has an 8-9 overall record and a 2-6 mark in conference heading into the weekend. The Commodores travel to Gainesville to face Florida on Friday before making their way to Columbia. Vandy is currently looking to snap a five-match losing streak. After a loss to Alabama to open SEC play, the Commodores posted back-to-back wins over Auburn and Arkansas before the start of the slide. The Commodores are led by Ryan Preston, who holds down the No. 46 spot in the latest Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings. Ian Duvenhage, who spent 13 years as the head coach at Florida (1988-2001) is in his first year as the head coach at Vanderbilt.
Kentucky leads the all-time series with South Carolina, 19-9. The No. 46 Gamecocks upset the 21st-ranked Wildcats, 4-1, in the 2006 meeting between the two squads in Columbia. Carolina dropped the doubles point, but rallied to take four consecutive singles matches and the victory. Prior to last season’s match, UK had won four straight against the Gamecocks. South Carolina is 12-6 all-time against Vanderbilt. The Garnet and Black defeated the Commodores on the road last season, 5-2.
South Carolina will wrap up the regular season next week with two home matches. The Gamecocks will host intra-state rival Clemson on Wednesday, April 11, at 2 p.m. at the Sam Daniel Tennis Center. The Florida Gators visit Columbia on Saturday, April 14, for the regular season finale. Match time is set for 2 p.m. The Gamecocks will participate in the 2007 Southeastern Conference Tournament, which runs April 19-22 in Baton Rouge, La.
Youth is Served
The 2006-07 South Carolina men’s tennis team is a youthful one. The current available roster includes four freshman, one redshirt sophomore, two juniors and one senior. The Gamecocks’ typical singles lineup features four true freshmen.
Junior Yevgeny Supeko and freshman Pedro Campos share the team lead with 21 singles victories to date. Supeko, who led the Gamecocks with 18 singles wins a year ago, is currently 21-7 overall and 8-4 in dual matches while playing in the top half of Carolina’s singles lineup. Campos is 21-12 overall and 11-8 in dual matches. The rookie has played at No. 1, 2 and 3 singles.
Junior Yevgeny Supeko opened the spring season by reeling off 12 straight singles victories before dropping a No. 2 singles match to 44th-ranked Danny Bryan of LSU on March 23. Supeko’s 14-match win streak, dating back to the fall, ended with that loss.
Defending the Home Turf
Historically, the Gamecocks have been a tough out at home. All-time, South Carolina has collected a 4167-130 record playing at home for a .767 winning percentage. That record includes a 9-5 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.
Promotion for Clemson Match
The first 50 fans in attendance at next Wednesday’s match with Clemson will receive a free “Beat Clemson” t-shirt. Match time is set for 2 p.m. at the Sam Daniel Tennis Center.
Not Backing Down From the Best
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 its 11-match SEC slate, Carolina faces four ACC teams. Seven of South Carolina’s nine losses this season come to teams ranked in the current top 25 of the Fila Collegiate Tennis Poll. All nine losses are to top-50 teams. South Carolina also owns victories over current No. 48 Georgia Tech and No. 64 Mississippi State.
In addition to matches this week’s matches against No. 59 Kentucky and No. 41 Vanderbilt, the Gamecocks will face No. 28 Clemson (April11) and 18th-ranked Florida (April 14).
The Doubles Point
The Gamecocks have won the doubles point eight times this spring. Carolina’s record when winning the doubles point stands at 7-1. The Gamecocks came out a winner in the first seven matches where it won the doubles point before suffering its first and only loss on the road at then-No. 44 Auburn on March 30.