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Jan. 24, 2009

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 52 South Carolina rallied for a tight 5-2 victory over No. 58 Georgia Tech this afternoon at the USC Indoor Facility. The Gamecocks (3-0) led the match throughout, although each match seemed to come down to the wire with four of the six singles matches going to three sets. A pair of comebacks in double helped Carolina win the match’s first point, and the teams each won two of the first four singles matches. Junior Ivan Cressoni netted the winning victory with a hard-fought 6-3, 6-4 win over Ryan Smith at No. 5 singles.

Each match was a nail-biter from the start. At No. 1 doubles, Georgia Tech’s tandem of Ryan Smith and Miguel Muguruza jumped out to a 3-6 lead on South Carolina’s Diego Cubas and Ivan Machado. Two games from defeat, the Gamecocks sorted out their early service return difficulties to roll through the next five games to claim an 8-6 win to kick off the match. Pedro Campos and Joseph Veeder put up a vicious fight at No. 2 doubles, but could not get the late break of serve needed and fell to Georgia Tech’s Kevin King and Doug Kenney. The doubles point came down to the No. 3 match between Gamecocks Jaime Cuellar and Johannes Pulsfort and Georgia Tech’s Guillermo Gomez and Eliot Potvin. After Carolina took a 7-6 lead, Cuellar went back to serve for the match. Georgia Tech dumped a volley in the net to set up set point, which Cuellar finished with a tough angle volley to secure an 8-6 win and the Gamecocks’ first point of the match.

Singles play opened with just as much suspense, save the No. 3 match where Cuellar dispatched Potvin 6-1, 6-3 to give Carolina a 2-0 lead. At the No. 1 spot, Cubas fell behind Gomez, the nation’s 14th-ranked player, quickly and dropped the first set 3-6. Cubas rallied in the second set, though, breaking Gomez to go up 3-1 then rolled through the next three games to even the match. The Gamecocks’ top player broke quickly in the third set to hold a 2-1 lead but gave the break back when an overhead clipped the net cord and bounced out. The two stayed on serve for the next two games before Gomez broke through again to go up 4-3. He went on to finish out the set for the 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 victory, putting the Yellow Jackets on the board.

Meanwhile, Machado had a battle on his hands at No. 4 singles against Tech’s Dusan Miljevic. The Gamecock freshman was up 4-2 in the first set but soon found the set back on serve at 5-4. Serving for the set, Machado was broken to even the match at 5-5. After breaking back in the next game, he took the first set 7-5. Miljevic took the second set 6-3, but Machado withstood the challenge and cruised to a win with a 6-1 final set. Playing at No. 2 singles, Campos endured marathon games throughout his match against King. The two split the first two sets, and King jumped out to a big lead in the final set. Campos battled to narrow the gap, but could not close the door and fell 3-6, 6-1. 3-6.

With the Gamecocks up 3-2, the final two matches were underway. Muguruza won the first set for the Yellow Jackets from Pulsfort in the No. 5 spot. The Gamecock sophomore found his stride in the second set, taking a 4-2 lead. Serving for the set, Pulsfort was broken as Muguruza looked to even the team score at 3-3, but Pulsfort answered with a break of serve to level the match at one set apiece. As the two battled for the final set, Ivan Cressoni jumped out to a one-set lead (6-3) over Smith at No. 6 singles. The second set was a back-and-forth battle full of momentum and emotional swings. Cressoni finally got the break he needed and went on to claim the set and the match 6-4, sealing the winning point for the Gamecocks. Pulsfort went on to win his match 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 for the final margin of victory.

The Gamecocks are back in action next weekend at the ITA Kickoff at University of Georgia. South Carolina will play the No. 3 Bulldogs on Fri., Jan. 30, before taking on either No. 34 Washington or No. 44 Indiana on Saturday.

South Carolina 5, Georgia Tech 2

Doubles: (Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3)
<1. diego=”” cubas/ivan=”” machado=”” (sc)=”” def.=”” ryan=”” smith/miguel=”” muguruza=”” (gt)=””>1.>
2. Kevin King/Doug Kenny (GT) def. Pedro Campos/Joseph Veeder (SC) 9-7
3. Jaime Cuellar/Johannes Pulsfort (SC) def. Guillermo Gomez/Eliot Potvin (GT) 8-6

Singles: (Order of Finish: 3, 1, 4, 2, 6, 5)
1. Guillermo Gomez (GT) def. Diego Cubas (SC) 6-3, 1-6, 6-3
2. Kevin King (GT) def. Pedro Campos (SC) 6-3, 1-6, 6-3
3. Jaime Cuellar (SC) def. Eliot Potvin (GT) 6-1, 6-3
4. Ivan Machado (SC) def. Dusan Miljevic (GT) 7-5, 3-6, 6-1
5. Johannes Pulsfort (SC) def. Miguel Muguruza (GT) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
6. Ivan Cressoni (SC) def. Ryan Smith (GT) 6-3, 6-4