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March 15, 2009

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The No. 22 South Carolina women’s tennis team lost three singles matches in three sets at the top four positions Sunday and lost the doubles in falling 6-1 to No. 2 Georgia in Columbia, S.C., at the USC Field House. The Gamecocks dipped to 7-6 overall and 1-3 in the SEC while the Bulldogs improved to 12-2 and 3-1.

Georgia swept all three positions in doubles to take a 1-0 lead heading to singles play. The combination of Nadja Gilchrist and Chelsey Gullickson won first against Natasa Vuckovic and Ana Marija Zubori on court one by an 8-2 count. Cameron Ellis and Naoko Ueshima clinched the point at three with an 8-4 triumph over Suzanna Mansour and Ashley Miller.

At the second position, South Carolina’s Gira Schofield and Dijana Stojic trailed Yvette Hyndman and Monika Dancevic 5-2, but the Carolina duo fought back to make the score 5-all. The two teams eventually battled to a tiebreaker at 7-all, and Schofield and Stojic held a 5-2 advantage in the breaker, but Hyndman and Dancevic won four straight rallies to go up 6-5. After saving one match point, Stojic and Schofield saved another at 7-6 and then got a match point of their own at 8-7. Dancevic and Hyndman, though, managed to hang on for a 10-8 victory in the breaker.

Zubori struck back for the Gamecocks, quickly defeating Hyndman 6-0, 6-3 at No. 2 singles. The win helped Zubori improve to 20-3 overall for the season and 12-1 at the position for the spring. Zubori is also off to a 4-0 start in SEC play.

Dancevic answered back for Georgia, winning a strange match on court four against Vuckovic. Dancevic won the first set 6-0, taking less than 20 minutes, but Vuckovic then returned the favor and won the second set 6-0, also in less than 20 minutes. The two battled it out for the third, with Vuckovic jumping ahead 3-1 before Dancevic came back and took a 5-4 lead. Vuckovic managed to tie the score at 5-all, but Dancevic went on to win 7-5 to put Georgia on top 2-1.

At No. 3 singles, Stojic grabbed the first set from Gilchrist 6-3, but dropped the second 6-2. In the third, Gilchrist went ahead 4-2 before Stojic won two straight to make it 4-all. Gilchrist then hung on claim the next two games for a 6-4 victory.

The deciding match came at No. 1 singles. Schofield fell 6-2 in the first to Gullickson before coming from behind to win the second 6-4. In the third, Gullickson raced to a 5-1 advantage and was up 30-0 on her serve before Schofield fought back to break and then won two more games to trail 5-4. The 10th game went to deuce with Schofield serving and Gullickson won both rallies to give the Bulldogs the win.

The final two matches at five and six singles were already underway when Gullickson clinched the point, but both coaches agreed to have them become eight-game pro sets. At five, Jocic led Ueshima 2-0 before Ueshima stormed back to win 8-4, and Ellis won eight straight games over Miller at the No. 6 spot after losing the first game of the match.

South Carolina takes a break from SEC play next weekend when it travels to Florida to play Florida International on Friday and USF on Sunday.

#2 Georgia (12-2, 3-1 SEC) def. #22 South Carolina (7-6, 1-3 SEC), 6-1

1. #6 Chelsey Gullickson, UG, def. #33 Gira Schofield, USC, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
2. #49 Ana Marija Zubori, USC, def. #43 Yvette Hyndman, UG, 6-0, 6-3
3. #51 Nadja Gilchrist, UG, def. Dijana Stojic, USC, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4
4. #77 Monika Dancevic, UG, def. Natasa Vuckovic, USC, 6-0, 0-6, 7-5
5. Naoko Ueshima, UG, def. Miljana Jocic, USC, 8-4
6. Cameron Ellis, UG, def. Ashley Miller, USC, 8-1

Order of Finish: 2, 4, 3, 1, 6, 5

1. #73 Gilchrist/Gullickson, UG, def. #45 Vuckovic/Zubori, USC, 8-2
2. Dancevic/Hyndman, UG, def. Schofield/Stojic, USC, 8-7(8)
3. Ellis/Ueshima, UG, def. Suzanna Mansour/Miller, USC, 8-4

Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2