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March 4, 2011

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The No. 27-ranked South Carolina women’s tennis team lost 4-3 to No. 16 Arkansas on Friday in the SEC opener for both teams in Fayetteville, Ark. The Gamecocks fell to 6-3 on the season while the Razorbacks improved to 11-3.

A slow start in doubles hampered the Gamecocks on Friday, as they lost all three positions by an 8-4 count. At one, No. 34 Anouk Tigu and Claudine Paulson beat No. 54 Dominika Kanakova and Dijana Stojic, while Stephanie Roy and Kate Lukomskaya defeated Josefin Andersson and Madeleine Saari-Byström on court two. For No. 3 doubles, Jade Frampton and Emily Carbone upended Anya Morgina and Katerina Popova.

The Razorbacks managed to win four first sets in singles to the Gamecocks’ two and appeared to be in control of the match, but South Carolina rallied to make it just a one-point final margin. Roy put Arkansas ahead 2-0 after she upended Saari-Byström at three singles, and Paulson hung on to down Popova 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) at No. 4 singles to put the Razorbacks within a point of the victory.

Morgina answered for Carolina by scoring the top win of her collegiate career at No. 1 singles, beating No. 23-ranked Tigu in straight sets 6-3, 7-5. Tigu, who has been ranked as high as No. 16 this season, marks the highest ranked player Morgina has defeated in her career. Morgina trailed in the second set 4-1 before winning six of the next seven games to improve to 14-8 overall and 4-5 at the top position.

Andersson looked to keep South Carolina’s chances alive on court six. After losing the first set to Frampton 6-4, she fought back to take the second 6-4. In the third, Andersson fell behind 4-1 when Frampton called for an injury timeout when Andersson was a point away from winning the sixth game. When play resumed, Andersson won the game to make it 4-2, but Frampton stayed strong and won the next two games to lift her team to victory.

With the team outcome decided, the Gamecocks did end on a positive note by winning the final two matches on court. At two, Stojic came back to defeat Lukomskaya in three sets 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Stojic fell behind 4-1 in the second set before mounting her comeback and improved to 6-3 this spring at No. 2 singles with the win.

The final match on court between Kanakova and Carbone at No. 5 singles was decided in a third-set super tiebreaker. Kanakova took the first set 6-4 and held a 5-1 advantage in the second, but Carbone fought off multiple match points in getting the match back to 5-all. Kanakova then took a 6-5 lead before Carbone forced a tiebreaker, which she won 7-3.

In the super tiebreaker, Kanakova had a 7-5 advantage after the second changeover and then earned two match point opportunities at 9-7. Carbone fought off the first, but Kanakova capitalized on the second to earn her team-leading 15th singles triumph. Kanakova is 15-4 for the season and 8-1 in dual matches.

Friday’s contest was played inside due to excessive wind. By ITA rule, matches must be played indoors when the forecast one hour prior to the start of the match shows at least two consecutive hours of wind exceeding 20 mph.

The Gamecocks will take on LSU in their next match in Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

1. #65 Anya Morgina, USC, def. #23 Anouk Tigu, UA, 6-3, 7-5
2. Dijana Stojic, USC, def. Kate Lukomskaya, UA, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
3. Stephanie Roy, UA, def. Madeleine Saari-Byström, USC, 6-2, 6-3
4. Claudine Paulson, UA, def. Katerina Popova, USC, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3)
5. Dominika Kanakova, USC, def. Emily Carbone, UA, 6-4, 6-7 (7-3), (10-8)
6. Jade Frampton, UA, def. Josefin Andersson, USC, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2

Order of Finish: 3, 4, 1, 6, 2, 5

1. #34 Tigu/Paulson, UA, def. #54 Kanakova/Stojic, USC, 8-4
2. Roy/Lukomskaya, UA, def. Andersson/Saari-Bystrom, USC, 8-4
3. Frampton/Carbone, UA, def. Morgina/Popova, USC, 8-4

Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1