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April 1, 2011

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina suffered a 7-0 loss to No. 30 Vanderbilt in SEC men’s tennis action at Maxcy Gregg Tennis Center Friday afternoon. The Gamecocks’ forced three tiebreakers across the nine matches, but could not break through against the highly-ranked Commodores. Freshman Nick Jones was the lone Gamecock to win a set as he opened his No. 5 match with a 6-3 victory.

Doubles kicked off slowly for both teams with early service breaks in all three matches. The Gamecocks rallied back in the Nos. 1 and 2 matches, though. After Vanderbilt won the No. 3 match, Jones and Ivan Machado were looking to push back from down a break at 4-6. The Commodores’ top duo of Adam Baker and Charlie Jones held off the Gamecock duo 8-6 to clinch the doubles point. In the No. 2 match, both teams had steadied themselves after dropping their first service games and stayed on serve through 7-7, sending the match to a tiebreaker. Vanderbilt’s tandem of Ryan Lipman and Bryant Salcedo served to open the tiebreaker, but Alexander Kostanov cracked a return to give the Gamecocks the early lead. After Lipman hit a pair of winners to go up 3-1, Kostanov placed another winner off a return of serve then leveled the tiebreaker at 3-3 with a service winner of his own. The teams traded points in three-point increments as the Gamecocks erased Vanderbilt’s 6-4 margin to surge ahead 7-6 as the Commodores netted a pair of volleys. The match continued to seesaw back and forth point-by-point through a 10-9 South Carolina lead. Vandy knotted the score at 10-10 on Lipman’s volley that split Kotanov and Chip Cox. A Salcedo angle volley put the Commodores up, and he sealed the 12-10 win with a backhand, cross-court winner.

The Commodores carried that momentum through to singles where they scored the first service break in each of the six matches. Jones was the first to rally back from the early deficit. Trailing Vandy’s Alex Zotov 1-3 in the No. 5 match, Jones used his big ground strokes to roll through the next five games to claim the first set 6-3. In the No. 1 match, Machado was also making a run against Lipman. A backhand winner up the line got the match back on serve at 3-4, but Lipman got the break right back in the next contest to hold a 3-5 edge. Machado won the ensuing game at love to once again get back on terms with his opponent. After Machado held serve to level the match at 5-5, he had Lipman on the ropes in the next game. The nation’s 27th-ranked player survived the extended game, and the set went to a tiebreaker. Machado fell behind 0-2 before a drop volley and a pair of miscues from Lipman gave the Gamecocks’ junior a 3-2 edge. Lipman surged ahead 6-3 behind solid net play, but Machado answered with a service winner, a drop volley and a deep return of serve for a winner to even things at 6-6. Again, Lipman stepped up a crunch time, taking a 7-6 lead on a service winner and winning the tiebreaker when Machado’s tough backhand found the net.

Vanderbilt took a 2-0 lead when Blake Bazarnik topped Harry Menzies 6-3, 6-2 in the No. 6 match, and Salcedo made it a 3-0 Commodore lead moments later when he wrapped up his No. 4 match against Johannes Pulsfort 6-1, 6-3.

Back in the No. 5 match, Zotov rallied to win the second set from Jones 6-3, but the Gamecock freshman stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the third. Zotov flipped the script from the match’s first set, however, as he won the next six games to complete his come back victory shortly after Charlie Jones had clinched the decisive fourth point for Vanderbilt with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Cox in the No. 3 contest.

After his valiant comeback in the first set, Machado struggled in the second. Lipman scored an early break to go up 3-1, and he finished out the match with a 6-2 second-set win. The final match on court was the No. 2 matchup between Kostanov and Baker. Baker had won the first set 6-1, but the Gamecock junior was up 3-1 in the second set. Both players had trouble holding serve late in the set, and Kostanov sent the set to a tiebreaker with a service break in the final game. Baker used well-placed ground strokes to wrap up the sweep for Vanderbilt with a 7-3 win in the tiebreaker.

South Carolina returns to action on Sun., April 3, for a 1 p.m. match against No. 14 Kentucky at Maxcy Gregg Tennis Center.

No. 30 Vanderbilt 7, South Carolina 0

Doubles (Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2)
1. Adam Baker/Charlie Jones (VU) def. Ivan Machado / Nick Jones (SC) 8-6
2. Ryan Lipman/Bryant Salcedo (VU) def. Alexander Kostanov / Chip Cox (SC) 8-7 (10)
3. Alex Zotov/Blake Bazarnik (VU) def. Harry Menzies / Chris Sheehan (SC) 8-5

Singles (Order of Finish: (6, 4, 3, 5, 1, 2)
1. (27) Ryan Lipman (VU) def. Ivan Machado (SC) 7-6 (6), 6-2
2. Adam Baker (VU) def. Alexander Kostanov (SC) 6-1, 7-6 (3)
3. Charlie Jones (VU) def. Chip Cox (SC) 6-2, 6-4
4. Bryant Salcedo (VU) def. Johannes Pulsfort (SC) 6-1, 6-3
5. Alex Zotov (VU) def. Nick Jones (SC) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
6. Blake Bazarnik (VU) def. Harry Menzies (SC) 6-3, 6-2