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April 9, 2010

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 43 South Carolina battled No. 8 Georgia down to the final two shots but fell to the Bulldogs 4-3 this afternoon at Maxcy Gregg Tennis Center. The Gamecocks (9-10, 1-8 SEC) had a 3-2 lead with the final two matches deep in the third set when the Bulldogs (17-4, 9-0 SEC) struck the match-winning shots on both courts within 30 seconds of each other to escape with the victory. Senior Pedro Campos, sophomore Ivan Machado and junior Johannes Pulsfort collected the singles wins for the Gamecocks.

The difference in the match turned out to be first point decided as the doubles point was as narrowly decided as the final singles points. Georgia stormed through the No. 3 match to take the early lead, but South Carolina’s top duo of Campos and Diego Cubas leveled things with a win over No. 42 Jamie Hunt and Nate Schnugg. The Gamecocks’ senior tandem had to fight back from three service breaks, but were able to scrape out one more than its opponents as Campos’ lob on match point tucked just inside the baseline. As that match wrapped up, the No. 2 match was heating up. After trailing 1-6, Ivan Cressoni and Ivan Machado put together a pair of three-game win streaks to even their match with Drake Bernstein and Javier Garrapiz at 7-7. The Bulldogs duo held serve for an 8-7 lead, leaving the match in the hands of Machado’s serve. A pair of double faults handed Georgia the match and the doubles point.

The match was quickly tied 1-1 as Machado collected a win in the No. 5 match when Christian Vitulli was forced to retire with an injury early in the third game of the match. Georgia reclaimed the lead on Hunt’s straight-set win over Cressoni in the No. 3 contest.

In the No. 2 match, Campos dispatched No. 22 Garrapiz in the first set 6-3 but fell behind a break in the first game of the second set. The senior stayed both steadily and flamboyantly, including a between the legs desperation winner, and broke back to get even a 3-3. As the match got closer, the games grew longer and more hotly contested as each player clung to his serve. Having served to open the set, Campos took a 6-5 led into the final game of the set, regardless of outcome, and he powered to a service break to pick up his 15th-straight singles victory and pull the Gamecocks back to 2-2 in the match.

While Campos battled to close out Garrapiz, the No. 6 match between Johannes Pulsfort and Will Oliver seemed to be going well in Pulsfort’s favor as he won the first set 6-3 and was up 5-2 in the second. Oliver rededicated himself to his game plan of patience, forcing Pulsfort to hit more shots in each rally, which allowed the Oliver to win three straight games to get back on serve at 5-5. Each player held to get into a tiebreak, in which Oliver won the first two points. Pulsfort claimed the next four decisions then held on for a 7-3 win as Oliver’s forehead landed just beyond the baseline.

The No. 4 match was even more of a rollercoaster ride than the No. 6 battle. Georgia’s Bernstein steamrolled through the first set 6-1, but Alexander Kostanov took control of the second with three straight service breaks to win 6-3. The Gamecock freshman got an early break in the third set and held onto it through 5-2, seemingly in control of the match. Like Oliver, Bernstein would not be denied, rattling off the next four games to take a 6-5 lead into the final game. Kostanov’s final break of service came by mere inches, though, as his last two shots of the game clipped the top of the tape before falling back on his side of the net. He fought back to break Bernstein’s serve and send the match to a tiebreaker.

While the No. 4 match went into its tiebreaker, the No. 1 match was coming down to the wire as well. No. 86 Schnugg broke Cubas’ serve three times to win the first set 6-2, only to see the Gamecock senior, ranked No. 59 in the nation, come up with a pair of service breaks in the second set, including one to break a 4-4 tie, to finish the set 6-4.

Cubas went up a break and held his next service game for a 3-1 lead in the third set, but was broken two games later, allowing Schnugg to surge ahead 4-3. Meanwhile on the next court, Bernstein opened the third-set tiebreak with Kostanov with a 5-2 lead. As Cubas and Schnugg each held serve, Kostanov won the next four points of his match to even the tiebreaker at 5-5. Leading 5-4 with Cubas serving, Schnugg had the Gamecock senior on the ropes and facing break points. Kostanov sent up a shallow lob that Bernstein put away to set up match point. Just as Schnugg closed out his service break to clinch the 6-4 third-set win over Cubas, Kostanov’s forehand sailed long to deliver the 7-5 tiebreaker victory for Bernstein and the 4-3 win for the Bulldogs.

South Carolina returns to the court on Sun., April 11, for its final home match of the season. The Gamecocks will take on No. 4 Tennessee at 1 p.m. after honoring their three seniors and head coach Kent DeMars in the final home contest of their collegiate tennis careers.


Doubles (Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2)
1. (66) Diego Cubas/Pedro Campos (SC) def. (42) Jamie Hunt/Nate Schnugg (GA) 8-6
2. Drake Bernstein/Javier Garrapiz (GA) def. Ivan Cressoni/Ivan Machado (SC) 9-7
3. Christian Vitulli/Will Oliver (GA) def. Johannes Pulsfort/ Alexander Kostanov (SC) 8-2

Singles (Order of Finish: 5, 3, 2, 6, 1, 4)
1. (86) Nate Schnugg (GA) def. (59) Diego Cubas (SC) 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
2. (79) Pedro Campos (SC) def. (22) Javier Garrapiz (GA) 6-3, 7-5
3. Jamie Hunt (GA) def. Ivan Cressoni (SC) 6-0, 6-1
4. Drake Bernstein (GA) def. Alexander Kostanov (SC) 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (5)
5. Ivan Machado (SC) def. Christian Vitulli (GA) 1-1 retired
6. Johannes Pulsfort (SC) def. Will Oliver (GA) 6-3, 7-6 (3)