April 18, 2007
South Carolina (11-13, 2-9 SEC) is set to compete in the 2007 Southeastern Conference Tournament, April 19-22, in Baton Rouge, La. As the No. 11 seed, the Gamecocks will face sixth-seeded Alabama in the first match of the championship on Thursday at 8 a.m. CT at Dub Robinson Tennis Stadium. The winner of Thursday’s first round match advances to meet No. 3 seed Florida on Friday at 8 a.m. CT.
The Crimson Tide won the regular season contest between the two teams in Tuscaloosa, 6-1, on April 1.
Live scoring is available throughout the tournament match online. Links can be found at USCsports.com. On the main page, links can be found in the weekly calendar on the right-hand side. Visit LSUsports.net or SECsports.com for all of the latest information on the championship.
South Carolina capped the regular season with an 11-13 overall record and a 2-9 mark in Southeastern Conference matches. The Gamecocks dropped a pair of matches to top-20 teams last week, falling at home to No. 20 Clemson, 6-1, and dropping another 6-1 decision to No. 17 Florida in the regular season finale. The Gamecocks are No. 60 in the latest Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings (April 17) and freshman Pedro Campos is No. 115. Carolina features a young squad with a typical lineup that includes four true freshmen. Campos, who capped the regular season with a pair of impressive wins over ranked opponents, leads the team with a 24-13 singles record followed by junior Yevgeny Supeko’s 22-10 mark. During the regular season, the Gamecocks’ two SEC wins came against No. 9 seed Mississippi State and 12th-seeded Arkansas.
Alabama is 19-6 overall and went 7-4 in conference play. The Crimson Tide is ranked No. 16 in the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings. The Crimson Tide finished the regular season in a four-way tie for third in the SEC but ended up as the No. 6 seed by virtue of the tiebreaker formula used by the conferece. Alabama defeated Auburn, 4-3, in its regular season finale. Billy Mertz, who is No. 78 in the latest rankings, leads Alabama with a 25-8 singles record, including a 19-4 mark in dual matches. Javier Bes and Matthieu Thibaudeau are both 20-10 on the season. Joseph Jung also appears in the latest rankings at No. 95. Thibaudeau and Dan Bukiema combine to form the the Tide’s top doubles duo with a 24-13 record and a No. 26 national ranking.
Alabama holds a 16-12 advantage in the all-time series, but South Carolina has won two of the last three meetings between the two schools.
Third Time a Charm?
Thursday’s match marks the third time South Carolina and Alabama have played in the SEC Tournament. After joining the league in 1992, the Gamecocks’ first-ever SEC Tournament match was against the Crimson Tide. Eighth-seeded Alabama defeated No. 9 seed Carolina, 5-2. The second meeting between the two schools came in 1996, a 4-3 victory for the No. 7 Tide over No. 10 South Carolina.
April 1: Alabama 6, Carolina 1
Alabama defeated South Carolina, 6-1, in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on April 1. The Crimson Tide won all three doubles matches and five of six singles contests. Carolina’s lone victory came at No. 2 singles where senior Pedro Rodrigues rallied after losing the opening set in a tiebreaker to take the second and third sets, 6-2, 6-4, from Sammy Struyf.
Campos Wins Big
In the Gamecocks’ loss two losses last week, it was freshman Pedro Campos who scored team’s points by knocking off a pair of ranked opponents. He defeated Clemson senior Clement Reix at No. 2 singles, easily topping the nation’s No. 122 player, 6-1, 6-1. He followed up by defeating Florida junior Greg Ouellette, 6-2, 6-1, on April 14. Ouellette was ranked No. 10 nationally.
More on Campos
Freshman Pedro Campos has enjoyed an impressive freshman season for the Gamecocks. Campos leads the squad in both singles (24) and doubles (18) victories. He currently holds a national ranking of No. 115 in singles. Campos is aiming to become the first freshman to lead South Carolina in singles wins since Jaime Cuellar did it in 2005. The Salvador, Brazil, product has played all of his matches in the top half of South Carolina’s singles lineup and been a mainstay in the doubles lineup as well.
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 15-0 in matches decided by a 4-3 score. Carolina is 4-0 in 4-3 contests in 2007 with wins over Georgia Tech (Feb. 27), Mississippi State (March 4), UNLV (March 15) and Arkansas (March 25). 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.
Senior Pedro Rodrigues is day-to-day with a shoulder injury. Junior Jaime Cuellar has been sidelined since Feb. 4 after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee. He will not return this season.
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.
Freshman Pedro Campos and junior Yevgeny Supeko have both surpassed the 20-win mark in singles this season. Supeko, who led the Gamecocks with 18 singles wins a year ago, is currently 22-10 overall and 14-6 in dual matches while playing in the top half of Carolina’s singles lineup. Campos is 24-13 overall and 14-9 in dual matches. The rookie has played at No. 1, 2 and 3 singles.
Veeder Earns Service Honor
Junior Joseph Veeder has been named to the 2007 SEC Men’s Tennis Community Service Team the league office announced Monday. The SEC sponsors Community ServicTeams in all 20 sports in an effort to highlight athletes from around the conference who give back to their community through superior service.
Veeder, who is in his second year on the Gamecock men’s tennis team, has served as a Food Drive Coordinator for Harvest Hope Food Bank. He has also participated as a volunteer tennis instructor with the Drew Wellness Children’s programs and as a junior tennis tournament staff volunteer.