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March 4, 2010

Coach Elkins
Adriana Pereira

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina women’s tennis team opens SEC play Friday hosting LSU at 2 p.m. followed by No. 15 Arkansas on Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Gamecocks (4-3) are coming off a 5-2 victory against No. 20 USF on Wednesday. South Carolina swept doubles play, which included a win against the No. 15-ranked doubles team in the country at the top spot, and then won on courts two, four, five and six. Madeleine Saari-Byström clinched the win at No. 4 singles with a 6-1, 6-7(4), 7-5 triumph, winning on her 13th match point.

Dijana Stojic enters the match for South Carolina enjoying a highly productive spring thus far with a 6-1 singles record at the No. 2 spot and a 5-2 mark at No. 1 doubles with Ana Marija Zubori. Dating back to the fall, Stojic has won nine of her last 10 matches.

Also playing well for the Gamecocks as of late are Miljana Jocic, Saari-Byström and Adriana Pereira. Jocic leads the team with an overall 16-4 record in singles and is 5-1 in dual matches, including a perfect 3-0 mark at five. Saari-Byström is 4-2 in duals and has won four in a row. She moved up to No. 4 singles following the season-ending injury to Josefin Andersson and has gone 2-0 at four since taking over the position. Pereira joined the singles lineup at six after Jocic moved up to five with Andersson’s injury and is 2-0 since doing so.

As a whole, the bottom half of Carolina’s lineup has provided much needed support for a team that has relied heavily on the top half in recent years. South Carolina is currently 5-2 at four, five and six singles. The Gamecocks have the same record at three as well thanks to Anya Morgina and are 6-1 at the No. 2 slot. Zubori is 3-4 at the top spot with all four losses coming to players ranked ahead of her, and three of the loses were in three sets.

LSU (2-6) enters Friday’s match having lost six consecutive matches. The Tigers’ most recent defeat came at the hands of Rice, and the others have come against Auburn, San Diego, Texas A&M, Ohio State and Florida State. LSU opened its season with consecutive 7-0 victories against Louisiana-Lafayette and Prairie View A&M on Jan. 24.

South Carolina looks to avenge a 5-2 loss to the Tigers a year ago in Baton Rouge, La. It was just the third loss for South Carolina to LSU in the 20 all-time meetings between the two schools. LSU won the doubles point in the match and then won two three-set matches that proved to be the difference in the match. The winners in singles for Carolina included Stojic at three and Jocic at five.

Arkansas (10-2) has played a busy schedule to this point and will face No. 6 Florida on Friday before traveling to Columbia, S.C., for Sunday’s contest. The Razorbacks have several wins against teams currently ranked in the top 50 including Washington (18), Oklahoma (36), Tulsa (40) and Utah (41). Arkansas’ two losses came versus Michigan (7) and Rice (32).

South Carolina holds an 18-4 edge in the series with the Razorbacks, but the teams have split the last four meetings. In Fayetteville, Ark., last season, the Gamecocks registered a dominant 5-2 win when the Razorbacks were ranked 15th in the country. South Carolina swept doubles and then won courts two, three and four convincingly in straight sets. The Gamecocks went on to earn a three-set victory at No. 6 singles. Zubori and Stojic played the second and third positions in the match.