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April 5, 2009

BATON ROUGE, La. — The No. 30 South Carolina women’s tennis team lost an exhausting five hour-plus match to No. 24 LSU on Sunday in Baton Rouge, La., by a 5-2 score. The Gamecocks dropped to 11-8 overall and 4-4 in the SEC while the Tigers improved to 3-4 in the league and 13-6 overall.

LSU snagged the doubles point by winning the second and third positions. Nicole Kantor and Staten Spencer won first on court three over Suzanna Mansour and Dijana Stojic 8-3. Hannah Robinson and Whitney Wolf then defeated Miljana Jocic and Gira Schofield 8-5 to give the Tigers the point.

South Carolina did manage to score an impressive win at No. 1 doubles thanks to the duo of Natasa Vuckovic and Ana Marija Zubori. Vuckovic and Zubori held a 6-4 advantage over the No. 17-ranked team of Megan Falcon and Mykala Hedberg before LSU’s team won three straight games to lead 7-6. After the two teams continued to break each other’s serves, the match went into a tiebreaker. LSU’s 3-1 lead in the breaker was quickly erased and after the third changeover with the score tied 9-all, Vuckovic and Zubori grinded out consecutive points to pick up the victory.

A slow start in singles play hurt South Carolina’s chances, as it won only two first sets in the six singles matches. Spencer added to LSU’s lead with a 6-3, 6-0 triumph over Mansour at the No. 6 slot and Falcon made the score 3-0 for LSU after dispatching Schofield 6-2, 6-4 at the top slot.

The Gamecocks continued fighting and picked up their first point at five singles with Jocic’s convincing 7-5, 6-1 win against Robinson. Stojic then pulled off a miraculous comeback versus Wolf at No. 3 singles after the two split the first two sets.

Wolf had a commanding 5-2 lead with 40-15 on her serve, but Stojic fought off both match points and eventually took the game to make it 5-3. After Stojic went ahead 30-15 in the next game, Wolf called for an injury timeout. Following the timeout, Stojic continued wearing down her opponent down to earn a 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory, her sixth in a row.

The clinching match for LSU came on court four where Kantor pulled out a 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 decision over Vuckovic. The final match on court also went to the Tigers with Hedberg defeating Zubori 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 at No. 2 singles to hand Zubori her first loss in SEC play this season.

The Gamecocks return home for their next two matches when they host Auburn on Friday at 2 p.m. and Alabama on Sunday at 1 p.m. Sunday’s match is the final home match of the year for South Carolina and Senior Day for Schofield, Mansour and Vuckovic.

#24 LSU (13-6, 3-4 SEC) def. #30 South Carolina (11-8, 4-4 SEC), 5-2

1. #17 Megan Falcon, LSU, def. #59 Gira Schofield, USC, 6-2, 6-4
2. Mykala Hedberg, LSU, def. #52 Ana Marija Zubori, USC, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5
3. Dijana Stojic, USC, def. Whitney Wolf, LSU, 1-6, 6-3, 7-5
4. Nicole Kantor, LSU, def. Natasa Vuckovic, USC, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2
5. Miljana Jocic, USC, def. Hannah Robinson, LSU, 7-5, 6-1
6. Staten Spencer, LSU, def. Suzanna Mansour, USC, 6-3, 6-0

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

1. #63 Vuckovic/Zubori, USC, def. #17 Falcon/Hedberg, LSU, 9-8(9)
2. Robinson/Wolf, LSU, def. Jocic/Schofield, USC, 8-5
3. Kantor/Spencer, LSU, def. Mansour/Stojic, USC, 8-3

Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1