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Jan. 28, 2011

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 69 South Carolina men’s tennis travels to Columbia, Ohio, to participate in the ITA Kickoff Weekend with a chance to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship Feb. 18-21. The Gamecocks open the event against No. 56 UC Irvine at 2 p.m. on Sat., Jan. 29, and will face either host No. 4 Ohio State or No. 75 William & Mary on Sunday.

South Carolina first-year head coach Josh Goffi’s team is 1-2 so far this season, dropping a hard-fought match to No. 23 Georgia Tech last Sunday. Youth has been the spark for the team so far this spring. Freshman Chip Cox leads the team with a perfect 3-0 record, while sophomore Alexander Kostanov is 2-1 through the team’s three dual matches. Two of Cox’s wins have come in three sets, including last weekend’s comeback victory in the No. 5 single spot. After dropping the first set in a tie-breaker, Cox lost just two games in the remainder of the match. Kostanov is 8-7 for the season after suffering a three-set defeat in the No. 3 singles spot against Georgia Tech last weekend.

UC Irvine opened the season 0-2, dropping matches to then-No. 15 Texas Tech and then-No. 21 Pepperdine last weekend. The Anteaters are led by junior Chris Kearney, who returned to his hometown after starting his college career at North Carolina. Kearney is ranked No. 33 in the nation with an 11-4 record this season, including a spot in the Round of 32 at the D’Novo Men’s All-American Championships

William & Mary is already seven matches into its spring campaign with a 5-2 mark. The Tribe’s losses both came to top-40 teams – Virginia and Notre Dame. Four players have notched double-digit singles victories this season. Freshman Ben Hoogland and sophomore Adrian Vodislav boast matching 11-7 records, while sophomore Anton Andersson’s 10-9 mark includes a 4-2 slate in the No. 1 singles position. Junior Ilja Orre rounds out the quartet with a 10-6 record.

After reaching the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals last season, Ohio State has opened its season 2-0 with perfect 7-0 victories over Butler and Xavier earlier this week. Six Buckeyes boast singles national rankings, and four doubles tandems are among the nation’s elite as well. Freshman Blaz Rola leads the way with a 15-2 record that has him ranked seventh in the nation. He teams with junior Chase Buchanan, who is ranked No. 63 in singles, to form the country’s sixth-best doubles team with a 7-2 record. Senior Matt Allare and junior Devin McCarthy are ranked in the top 50, 34th and 46th, respectively. Both are on top-25 doubles teams as well.

Following this weekend’s event, South Carolina returns home for five of its next six matches, beginning with a doubleheader against Charlotte and Appalachian State on Sat., Feb. 5, at 10 a.m.