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March 31, 2011

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina men’s tennis plays a pair of home matches this weekend, hosting No. 30 Vanderbilt and No. 14 Kentucky on Friday and Sunday, respectively. Both matches are planned for Maxcy Gregg Tennis Center, weather permitting.

With a pair of top-30 teams on the docket, South Carolina is looking to shake off a slump that has them at 6-10 overall and 1-5 in the SEC. First-year head coach Josh Goffi has seen production from all courts at various times throughout the stretch, but the Gamecocks have struggled to find the consistency needed to pick up team victories in the challenging SEC. South Carolina’s doubles tandem of Chip Cox and Alexander Kostanov has been a bright spot as the duo is currently 5-3 overall and 3-2 in SEC action. Playing in the No. 2 spot in the lineup, the duo has won three of its last four matches, including a pair of SEC matchups.

Ranked No. 30 in the nation, Vanderbilt enters Friday’s 2 p.m. matchup with a 10-7 record but is looking to improve on a 1-5 SEC slate that has them tied with the Gamecocks in the East Division standings. The Commodores are led by singles ace Ryan Lipman, who is ranked No. 27 in the nation. He holds the No. 1 spot in the Vanderbilt lineup and is 12-5 on the year in dual matches, winning four out of his last five contests. Playing in the Commodores’ No. 4 spot, Bryant Salcedo also sports a double-digit win total in dual matches with an 11-5 record that is spread across three different spots in the lineup. In doubles, Lipman and Adam Baker form the 48th-ranked tandem in the country. Vandy’s top duo is 10-7 on the year in dual matches but looks to improve on a 2-4 record in the No. 1 slot.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s 1 p.m. match, Kentucky enters the weekend with an 18-6 record and a 3-3 mark in the SEC. The Wildcats take on No. 15 Florida Friday afternoon before traveling to Columbia. The Wildcats saw their five-match win streak end in a tough road loss at then-No. 18 Auburn last week. Kentucky is led by the No. 7 singles player in the nation, Eric Quigley, who sports a 15-5 (3-3 SEC) record at No. 1 singles this year. Three other ranked Wildcat singles players hold a combined 14-6 record in SEC play this season. In doubles, the Cats’ tandem of Alberto Gonzalez and Tom Jomby currently holds the No. 51 spot in the latest ITA rankings. Gonzalez and Jomby are 9-6 on the year and 3-2 so far in SEC play.

South Carolina is 13-9 all-time against Vanderbilt. The Commodores won on their home courts last season, avenging the Gamecocks’ 5-2 win in Columbia in 2009. Kentucky holds a 22-10 all-time edge over the Gamecocks. The teams split the last two meetings, each winning on its home courts. The Gamecocks posted a 5-2 win over then-No. 11 UK on March 8, 2009, in Columbia, which the Wildcats answered with a 4-3 win in Lexington on April 2, 2010.