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April 25, 2009

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The 22nd-ranked and No. 6-seeded South Carolina women’s tennis team lost a hard fought match with third-seeded and No. 10-ranked Tennessee on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament in Fayetteville, Ark. The Gamecocks dropped to 14-10 overall with the loss while the Lady Vols improved to 16-5 and will face No. 7-seeded Ole Miss in the semifinals on Saturday.

“Even though the outcome was not in our favor, I can’t ask for a better effort,” Gamecock head coach Arlo Elkins said. “Our effort level toward the end of the season has been very high and that’s the most important thing to me. We are looking forward to the NCAA selection show next week.”

The 2009 NCAA Division I men’s and women’s tennis selection announcements will air Tuesday at approximately 5:20 p.m. on ESPNews. ESPNews is located on DirecTV channel 207/DishNetwork channel 142. In addition, the ESPNews audio signal is available on the ESPNews channel on XM Radio and SIRIUS Radio.

The Gamecocks failed to take the doubles point, losing at positions one and three. At one, Caitlin Whoriskey and Natalie Pluskota dropped Ana Marija Zubori and Natasa Vuckovic 8-1, but South Carolina responded with an 8-2 triumph at two thanks to Gira Schofield and Miljana Jocic topping Rosalía Alda and Zsofia Zubor.

The deciding match for the point came at the third slot. Maria Sorbello and Jennifer Meredith had a 5-4 advantage on Suzanna Mansour and Dijana Stojic after Mansour managed to hold serve. UT then moved ahead 6-4, but Stojic held to make it 6-5. The Lady Vols then held serve and broke Stojic to claim the point.

Tennessee quickly moved forward with a 3-0 advantage after winning handily on courts four and six. Meredith took care of Vuckovic first at the No. 4 singles spot by scores of 6-2, 6-3. Soon afterward, Sorbello defeated Mansour 6-3, 6-1 on court six.

The Gamecocks then began coming back, first getting a point on court three with Stojic upending Samantha Orlin 6-4, 6-3. The victory avenged a 6-4, 6-4 loss Stojic took to Orlin in the regular season and upped her record to 12-5. Stojic has won 10 of 11 matches after starting the spring 2-4.

Next, Zubori posted a straight set decision over Pluskota 7-6(8), 6-3 at No. 2 singles to close the margin to 3-2. Zubori trailed 4-2 in the first-set tiebreaker before winning four straight points, but Pluskota came back to make it 6-all. After eventually winning 10-8, Zubori coasted through the final set to improve to 27-6 on the season and 19-4 at two singles.

The deciding match came at the top of the singles lineup where Whoriskey defeated Schofield 7-6(3), 7-5. Schofield got off to a rocky start when she fell behind 4-0, but she recovered to win five straight games before the first set went to a tiebreaker. In the tiebreaker, Schofield snagged a 3-1 lead, but Whoriskey rattled off six consecutive points to take the set.

In the second set, Schofield pulled ahead 4-2 on Whoriskey, however, the Lady Vol then won the next three games to put the match back on serve. Schofield trailed 0-30 serving down 5-4 and came back to push the score to 5-all by winning four rallies in a row. After Whoriskey held serve, she broke Schofield at 15-40 to give Tennessee the victory.

The remaining match on court five between Jocic and Alda was suspended in the third set once the match had been decided. Alda won the first 6-4, while Jocic took the second 6-3. The match was on serve in the third set with Alda ahead 2-1 and Jocic serving at 30-15.

Friday’s match was played indoors due to sustained winds exceeding 25 mph. Although scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. CT, it did not officially get underway until just before 6:45 p.m. because of the length of the prior three quarterfinal contests.

#10 Tennessee (16-5, 8-3 SEC) def. #22 South Carolina (14-10, 6-5 SEC), 4-2

1. #45 Caitlin Whoriskey, UT, def. #46 Gira Schofield, USC, 7-6(3), 7-5
2. #43 Ana Marija Zubori, USC, def. #117 Natalie Pluskota, UT, 7-6(8), 6-3
3. Dijana Stojic, USC, def. Samantha Orlin, UT, 6-4, 6-3
4. Jennifer Meredith, UT, def. Natasa Vuckovic, USC, 6-2, 6-3
5. Miljana Jocic, USC, vs. Rosalía Alda, UT, 4-6, 6-3, 1-2
6. Maria Sorbello, UT, def. Suzanna Mansour, USC, 6-3, 6-1

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

1. #20 Whoriskey/Pluskota, UT, def. #37 Vuckovic/Zubori, USC, 8-1
2. Jocic/Schofield, USC, def. Alda/Zsofia Zubor, UT, 8-2
3. Sorbello/Meredith, UT, def. Mansour/Stojic, USC, 8-5

Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3