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April 15, 2010

Coach Elkins
Miljana Jocic

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The No. 18 South Carolina women’s tennis team (14-6, 7-3 SEC) will close out the regular season Saturday hosting No. 3 Florida (20-2, 10-0 SEC) at Maxcy Gregg Tennis Center at 1 p.m.

The Gamecocks enter the match having taken two straight 4-3 losses to Georgia and Tennessee. All six of South Carolina’s losses this year are 4-3 decisions. Carolina lost the doubles point in both matches but has still posted four victories this year in contests where it lost the point.

South Carolina and Georgia had four matches in singles go three sets and each team won two of them. The Bulldogs got the wins on courts one and three with Chelsey Gullickson and Yvette Hyndman defeating Ana Marija Zubori and Anya Morgina. At four and five singles, the Gamecocks’ Miljana Jocic and Adriana Pereira pulled out the three-setters against Naoko Ueshima and Cameron Ellis. Madeleine Saari-Byström earned a straight set win over Lara Fakhoury on court six for South Carolina, while Nadja Gilchrist did the same for Georgia over Dijana Stojic at No. 2 singles.

Both Pereira and Saari-Byström posted wins again versus the Lady Vols at five and six over Jennifer Meredith and Katie Lee in straight sets. Stojic won in straight sets as well versus Maria Sorbello on court two, while Caitlin Whoriskey and Zsofia Zubor collected wins in two sets for Tennessee at one and four against Zubori and Jocic. The deciding match came at No. 3 singles, the only match to go three sets, and Rosalia Alda edged Morgina 7-5 in the third to lift UT to victory.

With Pereira winning both of her matches, she tied the school record for regular-season SEC victories in a season with nine. She now shares the record with Natasa Vuckovic (2007) and Zubori (2009). Pereira, who earned SEC Freshman of the Week on April 7, owns a 22-8 overall singles record this season and is 14-3 in dual matches. Pereira is the Gamecocks’ No. 5 singles, but has played every position in the bottom half this year.

Stojic continues to lead South Carolina in dual match victories with a stellar 16-4 record this year with every match coming at the No. 2 position. She is second on the team in SEC wins behind Pereira with an 8-2 record. Stojic is the fourth Gamecock to reach the 20-win plateau this season with a 20-13 record. She cracked the singles rankings for the first time this spring when Tuesday’s rankings pegged her at No. 93. Stojic and Zubori also moved up from No. 24 to No. 18 in the doubles rankings.

Jocic is the Gamecocks’ leader in overall victories with an outstanding record of 26-6. She is second on the team in dual triumphs with a 15-3 ledger and has gone 7-2 in league matches this season. Like Pereira, Jocic has played matches in all positions of the lower half and currently resides at No. 4 singles.

Zubori, who will be honored before the match for Senior Day, looks to rebound from the two losses she took against Georgia and Tennessee. She has a 23-12 record for the season and is 11-9 playing No. 1 singles. Zubori moved from 75th to 53rd in the latest ITA singles rankings.

Morgina looks to end a three-match skid versus Florida. Her last two came in three sets versus the Bulldogs and Lady Vols. Morgina has enjoyed a solid season, though, going 14-6 at No. 3 singles and she is 19-10 overall. She is currently ranked No. 110 in the nation.

Saari-Byström looks to continue her successful return to the singles lineup at the No. 6 spot. After sitting out for nearly a month with an arm injury, Saari-Byström has returned to post three straight victories at six singles to move to 3-3 in SEC matches and 7-5 for all duals this year.

Florida enters the weekend having won the SEC regular-season championship outright. The Gators have won the regular season 24 times in the 31 years the SEC has sponsored women’s tennis. UF has allowed no team in the league this season to score more than one point, and the Gators enter Saturday’s contest having won 13 in a row. Florida’s only two losses this season came at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in February against Northwestern and UCLA.

The Gators have four players in the singles rankings, two of who appear in the top 10 with Allie Will at No. 7 and Lauren Embree at No. 10. Marrit Boonstra is ranked 75th and Anastasia Revzina is 116th. In doubles, Will is ranked fifth with Boonstra and 20th with Embree. In addition to Will, Embree is ranked No. 32 with Revzina and No. 71 with Joanna Mather.

The two schools have a history dating back to 1979 and Florida has the advantage at 33-2 against the Gamecocks. South Carolina’s last victory over Florida occurred in the round of 16 at the 1982 NCAA Championships, the first year the NCAA sponsored a championship for women’s tennis. The Gators have a streak of 29 straight wins against South Carolina since the ’82 NCAAs.

The Gamecocks can earn no worse than the No. 5 seed for the SEC Tournament and could be as high as the No. 3 seed depending on the results from the final weekend of regular-season conference play. Below is a list of the possible scenarios for South Carolina.

No. 3 Seed (2 Ways):

  1. A win by the Gamecocks over Florida coupled with a Georgia win over Tennessee will give South Carolina the No. 3 seed with an 8-3 record regardless of whether or not Ole Miss defeats Mississippi State since the Gamecocks have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rebels.
  2. A loss by South Carolina would mean the Gamecocks need Georgia to beat Tennessee, Vanderbilt to defeat Kentucky and Mississippi State to win against Ole Miss. In this situation, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss would all have 7-4 records. The Gamecocks win the tiebreaker because they and Ole Miss have 2-1 records against the other three while the other two are 1-2. Reducing the tie to South Carolina and Ole Miss, the Gamecocks get the edge with the head-to-head victory.

No. 4 Seed (2 Ways):

  1. A win by the Gamecocks combined with a Tennessee win over Georgia and an Ole Miss loss to Mississippi State would tie South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia for second in the SEC with an 8-3 record. South Carolina falls short in the three-way tie due to losses to both Georgia and Tennessee.
  2. A loss by South Carolina combined with a Georgia win over Tennessee, a Vanderbilt win over Kentucky and an Ole Miss win versus Mississippi State creates a three-way tie for fourth at 7-4 between the Gamecocks, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Since the teams are all 1-1 against each other, South Carolina nabs the fourth seed since all the teams lost to Florida and Georgia, the top two finishers, and only South Carolina has a win against Ole Miss, the third-place team.

No. 5 Seed (2 Ways):

  1. A win by the Gamecocks would have to be combined with a Tennessee win over Georgia and an Ole Miss win against Mississippi State. The four-way tie for second at 8-3 between South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Ole Miss does not play out well for the Gamecocks. South Carolina and Georgia have 1-2 records against the other three in this case and with the Bulldogs beating Carolina head-to-head, the Gamecocks fall to No. 5. Ole Miss takes the No. 2 seed with the direct win over Tennessee to give the Lady Vols the No. 3 seed.
  2. A loss by South Carolina to go along with a Tennessee win over Georgia and an Ole Miss win against Mississippi State would give the Gamecocks a 7-4 record that would be behind Tennessee, Georgia and Ole Miss’ 8-3 mark. A Vanderbilt win over Kentucky would give the Commodores a 7-4 record as well, but the Gamecocks have the head-to-head advantage to break the tie.