April 19, 2007
BATON ROUGE, La. — The South Carolina men’s tennis team dropped its opening round match of the SEC Tournament, 4-1, to No. 16 Alabama on Thursday at the Dub Robinson Tennis Stadium on the LSU campus. The Gamecocks end the 2007 season with an 11-14 record. The No. 6-seed Crimson Tide improved 20-6 on the season and moves on to face Florida on Friday in the quarterfinals.
“Alabama deserved to win. We needed to win the doubles point. We had a chance and let it slip away, and I think that was the turning point,” South Carolina head coach Kent DeMars said. “If we had won the doubles point, I think the guys would have come out really pumped (for singles). We had to win the one through four singles courts with five and six over so quickly. We were competitive in all of them but it’s hard to win all four. That’s been the story all year for us. When you don’t have all your troops (due to injuries), it’s a tough task. Alabama is ranked 16th for a reason. Our guys did the best they could, but unfortunately it was not enough.”
In doubles play, 11th-seeded South Carolina threatened but could not stake its claim to an early lead. At No. 2 doubles, Alabama’s Joseph Jung and Saketh Myneni defeated Gamecock freshmen Ivan Cressoni and David Wolff, 8-2. At the No. 3 spot, South Carolina’s Thomas Stoddard and Joseph Veeder jumped out the early lead and stayed in control by extending the lead to 6-3 in the eight-game pro set. Javier Bes and Billy Mertz rallied to win five straight games and the match, 8-6, clinching the doubles point for the Crimson Tide. In the No. 1 doubles match, the Carolina tandem of Yevgeny Supeko and Pedro Campos extended their lead to 6-2 over No. 26 Dan Bukiema and Matthieu Thibaudeau, but the Crimson Tide gained momentum and won four consecutive games to the tie the match before it was suspended.
The Crimson Tide won the first set on five of six singles courts. Alabama moved ahead 3-0 with wins at No. 5 and 6 singles. Bes collected a 6-0, 6-0 win over freshman David Wolff at No. 5 singles and Myneni topped Stoddard, 6-3, 6-2, in the No. 6 singles match. The Gamecocks got on the scoreboard at No. 4 singles as freshman Ivan Cressoni downed Mathieu Thibaudeau, 6-4, 6-2.
With Alabama leading 3-1, South Carolina wound need the remaining three singles matches to advance in the SEC Tournament. Senior Pedro Rodrigues forced a third with Alabama’s Sammy Struyf at No. 3 singles. Rodrigues dropped the opening set, 6-3, but responded by taking the second 6-4. At No. 1 and No. 2 singles, the Gamecocks also went ahead in the second set and were in a position to split as well. The Crimson Tide kept it close and eventually the match ended when No. 76 Billy Mertz capped a 6-3, 6-4 win over Supeko.
Today’s match proved to be an extra early start for South Carolina. Due to travel difficulties, the Gamecocks did not arrive in Baton Rouge until 11:30 p.m. last night.
1. Yevgeny Supeko/Pedro Campos (USC) vs. Dan Bukiema/Matthieu Thibaudeau (UA), 6-6 (suspended)
2. Joseph Jung/Saketh Myneni (UA) def.Ivan Cressoni/David Wolff (USC), 8-2
3. Billy Mertz/Javier Bes (UA) def. Joseph Veeder/Thomas Stoddard (USC), 8-6
Order of Finish 2, 3
No. 1 #76 Billy Mertz (UA) def. Yevgeny Supeko (USC), 6-3, 6-4
No. 2 #92 Joseph Jung (UA) vs. #115 Pedro Campos (USC), 6-3, 6-5
No. 3 Sammy Struyf (UA) vs. Pedro Rodrigues (USC), 6-3, 4-6 (unfinished)
No. 4 Ivan Cressoni (USC) def. Mathieu Thibaudeau (UA), 6-4, 6-2
No. 5 Javier Bes (UA) def. David Wolff (USC), 6-0, 6-0
No. 6 Saketh Myneni (UA) def. Thomas Stoddard (USC), 6-3, 6-2
Order of Finish: 5, 6, 4, 1