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Jan. 8, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The University of South Carolina women’s tennis team is ranked No. 30 in the nation in the preseason Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings released Tuesday. Junior Gira Schofield is rated a career-best 26th in singles, while sophomore Ana Marija Zubori also set a career high coming in at No. 73. The two are ranked ninth as a doubles team as well, topping their previous best of 18th.

Schofield, who has played every dual match of her career in the Garnet & Black at the No. 1 singles position, compiled an 11-5 record in singles last fall. She won the top singles flight at Carolina’s Southern Intercollegiate Championships in October by defeating Zubori in three sets in the final. Schofield concluded her fall as a finalist at the SEC Fall Coaches Classic in Auburn, Ala., the following weekend.

In addition to being a finalist at the Southern Intercollegiates, Zubori won her singles flight at the Furman Fall Classic in late September. She played some of her best tennis in the championship match, beating Vanderbilt’s then-No. 27-rated Catherine Newman 6-4, 6-1 for the title. Zubori had one other triumph versus a ranked player during the fall and finished with an 8-5 slate.

Schofield and Zubori notched a 10-3 record together for the fall and were 5-0 against regional teams. Even more impressive was the fact that they defeated every ranked team they faced and three of the four were ranked in the top 10 at the time while the other was among the top 25.

The Gamecocks open their spring season Jan. 30 hosting College of Charleston at 5 p.m. South Carolina went 16-7 last year and earned a fourth-place finish in the SEC with an 8-3 record, the second-most conference wins in school history. The Gamecocks return their top three starters from a year ago with Schofield, Zubori and junior Natasa Vuckovic and also have three-year starter and senior Megan McGavock. Their two newcomers include freshman Miljana Jocic and junior transfer Suzanna Mansour.