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March 23, 2010

Coach Elkins

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s 20th-ranked women’s tennis team (9-4, 3-1 SEC) will host No. 39 Illinois (7-6, 2-1 Big Ten) at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at Maxcy Gregg Tennis Center in the final regular-season non-conference match of 2010 for the Gamecocks.

The Gamecocks came away with a hard-fought 5-2 triumph in their last match with Colorado on Saturday in Boulder, Colo. After dropping the doubles point by losing at positions one and three, Carolina responded by winning five of the six singles contests. Ana Marija Zubori, Anya Morgina, Miljana Jocic, Adriana Pereira and Rita Maisak all claimed wins with Jocic providing the clinching point at No. 4 singles.

Saturday’s win against Colorado marked South Carolina’s seventh triumph in its last eight matches. The Gamecocks had a six-match unbeaten streak before falling 4-3 at Auburn on March 14. All four of South Carolina’s losses this season have come in 4-3 decisions.

Two members of Carolina’s roster will put hefty winning streaks on the line against Illinois. Jocic has posted 10 consecutive wins after losing against Michigan in South Carolina’s second match of the season. She owns the team’s best record at 22-4 and has played every position in the bottom half of the lineup for a combined 11-1 dual match record.

Pereira entered the Gamecocks’ lineup on a permanent basis after Josefin Andersson suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon against Clemson on Feb. 21. Pereira has an 8-0 record since filling in for Andersson and is 9-1 in the 10 duals she has played, going 3-0 at the fifth position and 6-1 at No. 6 singles. For the entire season, Pereira is 17-6 and hopes to extend her eight-match winning streak to nine against Illinois.

Illinois comes in to Wednesday’s match having won four straight with its most recent win coming over Wisconsin 5-2. The Fighting Illini’s other win in Big Ten play came by a 6-1 score versus Indiana. Illinois lost 5-2 to No. 2-ranked Northwestern in its first conference match of the season. In January, Illinois took on two SEC teams in Tennessee and Ole Miss and fell 4-3 to the Lady Vols and 4-2 to the Rebels.

The Fighting Illini have three players who lead the team in singles victories this season with Megan Fudge, Marisa Lambropoulos and Amy Allin each tallying 16 apiece. Fudge has the best dual record at 10-3 splitting time at one and two singles. Lambropoulos is 8-3 and has played every position except No. 1 singles. Allin has appeared in seven matches this season and went 3-3 with one match left unfinished.

The Gamecocks and Fighting Illini are meeting for the first time in the history of their programs Wednesday.