April 17, 2008
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Behind a thrilling three-set victory by senior Yevgeny Supeko, the South Carolina men’s tennis team upset No. 19 Alabama, 4-3, in the opening round of the SEC Championship, held at the University of Arkansas’s George M. Billingsley Tennis Center. South Carolina improves to 11-12 overall, while Alabama falls to 19-9 and is eliminated from the tournament.
“Great win for our team,” South Carolina head coach Kent DeMars said. “We have been playing much better in the last two weeks. At the beginning of the season we had two players injured pretty bad and they are now slowly starting to get healthy and able to play again. Not that long ago, we struggled trying to beat Florida. We thought we could compete with them, but we ended up losing 4-3. However, we play Florida tomorrow, and I like our chances of winning a lot better. Tomorrow will be a very interesting game, and I would not mind playing Florida indoors.”
With victories on courts one and three, Alabama won the doubles point to begin the day with a 1-0 overall advantage. Carolina battled on court one, holding just one game behind the Crimson Tide through the first seven games, however, the 17th-ranked duo of Mathieu Thibaudeau and Daniel Buikema won four straight games to defeat Pedro Campos and Johannes Pulsfort, 8-3. The Crimson Tide dominated on court three from the start, as Javier Bes and Sammy Struyf collected an 8-2 victory over Carolina’s Yevgeny Supeko and Thomas Stoddard to secure the doubles point.
Alabama pushed its overall lead to 2-0, as Buikema collected a straight set 6-0, 6-2 win over USC’s Jaime Cuellar in singles action on court five. Campos followed with a victory on court three over UA’s Struyf. After clinching a first set tiebreaker, 7-6, Campos dominated through the second set, completing the win with a 6-3 second-set victory to close the Alabama lead at 2-1.
The Crimson Tide answered on court six, as UA’s Michael Jung collected a 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 win over Carolina’s Ivan Cressoni, pushing Alabama’s overall lead to 3-1. Pulsfort tallied the second Gamecock point of the match, winning a three-set marathon over UA’s Javier Bes on court four. Pulsfort claimed the first set, 7-5, and Bes won the second, 6-2, but Pulsfort was able to finish strong, clinching the match with a 6-4 victory in the third set.
Alabama held a 3-2 advantage with just courts one and two still in play. On court two, Cubas played a tremendous match, battling through three hard-fought sets to claim Carolina’s third point of the match, defeating Thibaudeau, 6-3, 6-7, 7-5. The deciding point came down to the battle of one’s, as Supeko and UA’s Myneni matched points in the final set on court one. Supeko held a 5-4 advantage in the final set, but Myneni won the next game to knot the score at 5-5. Supeko dominated the next game to lead 6-5 and followed with a thrilling win in the following game to clinch the match for the Gamecocks with a 7-6 victory in the final set.
“The conditions made it a tough match today. It was so windy so it was hard to find some consistency with my play,” Supeko said. “It didn’t help that I was playing against an opponent with a tough serve. I was probably a little lucky today too which always helps. Even though I lost the first set, I felt as if I may have been playing a little better, so I didn’t get down. I knew if I kept playing my game, I would still have a chance to come back and win.”
South Carolina will face fourth-seeded Florida on Friday in the tournament’s second round at 2:30 p.m. (ET). Live stats will be available via www.GamecocksOnline.com.
SOUTH CAROLINA 4, No. 10 Alabama 3
1. Yevgeny Supeko (USC) def. Saketh Myneni, 6-7, 6-3, 7-5
2. Diego Cubas (USC) def. Mathieau Thibaudeau (UA), 6-3, 6-7, 7-5
3. Pedro Campos (USC) def. Sammy Struyf (UA), 7-6, 6-3
4. Johannes Pulsfort (USC) def. Javier Bes (UA), 7-5, 2-6, 6-4
5. Daniel Buikema (UA) def. Jaime Cuellar (USC), 6-0, 6-2
6. Michael Jung (UA) def. Ivan Cressoni (USC), 6-4, 4-6, 6-1
Order of finish: 5, 3, 6, 4, 2, 1
1. No. 17 Thibaudeau/Buikema (UA) def. Campos/Pulsfort (USC), 8-3
2. Cubas/Cressoni (USC) vs. Myneni/Felsenthal (UA), dnf.
3. Bes/Struyf (UA) def. Stoddard/Supeko (USC), 8-2
Order of finish: 1, 3,