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March 18, 2011

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina men’s tennis returns to SEC action this weekend, hosting No. 33 Mississippi State at Maxcy Gregg Tennis Center on Sat., March 19, at 1 p.m. The Gamecocks are in the midst of a three-match home stand, looking to snap a three-match skid.

South Carolina has won eight of its last nine meetings against Mississippi State to lift its series record to 9-12 overall. The Gamecocks are 5-4 against the Bulldogs in matches played in Columbia, including wins in the last four. South Carolina won last year’s match in Starkville, Miss., 4-2, and the Bulldogs’ last win over the Gamecocks was a 4-2 decision at home on March 21, 2008.

The Gamecocks opened their home stand with a loss to No. 56 VCU Thursday afternoon as the Rams rallied for late victories in the match, including a tiebreaker to decide the doubles point. Sophomore Harry Menzies lifted his singles dual-match record to 5-5 with a win in the No. 6 spot in the order. With eight wins so far this season, he has already surpassed his total from last season. Menzies has won four of his last seven matches, the best of any Gamecock during that stretch.

Mississippi State is 3-1 in SEC action so far this season, adding to its 7-5 overall record. A trio of juniors leads the Bulldogs in the national rankings. Artem Ilyushin headlines the group with a No. 84 ranking and a 14-7 record this season. He is 6-5 in dual matches having moved up to the No. 1 spot in the order recently after opening the season at 5-3 in the No. 2 slot. Ranked No. 85 in the nation, George Coupland is 11-8 overall this season, including a 2-1 mark since switching to the No. 2 spot in the order. Louis Cant rounds out the trio, ranked No. 92 after winning three of his last four matches. He is 12-6 overall and 6-2 in the No. 5 spot. Cant teams with freshman Malte Stropp to form the nation’s No. 69 doubles tandem. Stropp has been solid in singles action as well, toting a team-best 15 wins, including a 7-2 dual-match record as he has vacillated between the Nos. 3 and 5 spots in the lineup en route to three SEC Freshman of the Week awards.

South Carolina wraps up its three-match home stand with a 2 p.m. contest with Clemson on Wed., March 23.