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April 1, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The 38th-ranked South Carolina women’s tennis team dropped a 4-3 decision at No. 20 Vanderbilt on Friday in Nashville, Tenn., to fall to 11-6 overall and 3-4 in the SEC. Vanderbilt improved to 10-6 and 4-3 in the conference.

The Gamecocks dropped a crucial doubles point that proved to be the difference in the match. At one, Rachael Dillon and Alex Leatu defeated Dominika Kanakova and Dijana Stojic 8-3. Jackie Wu and Lauren Mira provided the clinching point at No. 2 doubles with an 8-3 triumph over Miljana Jocic and Anya Morgina.

South Carolina did manage to snag a win at the No. 3 position. Katerina Popova and Madeleine Saari-Byström led 2-1 after three games, but Keilly Ulery and Chelsea Preeg recovered to go ahead 5-2. Saari-Byström and Popova then cut the deficit to 5-4 and after surrendering the 10th game to Vandy, the Gamecock duo ran off four straight games for the 8-6 victory.

Vanderbilt quickly took a 3-0 lead in singles, first picking up a win from Mira at the No. 4 slot with a 6-1, 6-2 win versus Saari-Byström. Wu piled on another win for the Commodores by defeating Popova 6-2, 6-2 on court three.

The Gamecocks answered back with Morgina winning her seventh match in a row at the No. 1 singles position. The junior from Russia won handily over No. 68 Leatu 6-2, 6-2 to improve to 21-9 on the season and 11-6 in dual matches. Morgina, who is ranked 39th, is also 6-1 in SEC matches this season.

Stojic gave Carolina its second point at the No. 2 spot. With a 5-2 lead in the first over No. 76 Preeg, Stojic lost a couple games before closing the set out at 6-4. In the second, it was a near repeat with Stojic having a 5-2 lead and two match points, but Preeg was able to win two games again before Stojic held on to win 6-4. The junior improved to 5-1 in SEC play and 12-4 at No. 2 singles.

Ulery earned Vanderbilt’s fourth and final point of the day at No. 6 singles over Adriana Pereira. Pereira had a 5-3 lead in the first set, but Ulery fought her way to a 7-5 win. In the second, Pereira dominated and took the set 6-1 to force a third. Ulery, however, countered by winning 6-1 in the third set to hand Pereira her first loss in SEC match play.

The Gamecocks took the final match on court between Kanakova and No. 118-ranked Dillon at No. 5 singles. Kanakova won the first 6-2 and then dropped the second 6-3. Dillon grabbed a 4-2 lead in the third, but the freshman stayed strong and won the next four games to take the match 6-4. Kanakova upped her record on the season to 19-6 and is 12-3 in duals. Dillon represents the first ranked player Kanakova has beaten in her career.

South Carolina will next face Kentucky on Sunday at noon in Lexington, Ky.

1. #39 Anya Morgina, USC, def. #68 Alex Leatu, VU, 6-2, 6-2
2. #123 Dijana Stojic, USC, def. #76 Chelsea Preeg, VU, 6-4, 6-4
3. Jackie Wu, VU, def. Katerina Popova, USC, 6-2, 6-2
4. Lauren Mira, VU, def. Madeleine Saari-Byström, USC, 6-1, 6-2
5. Dominika Kanakova, USC, def. #118 Rachael Dillon, VU, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4
6. Keilly Ulery, VU, def. Adriana Pereira, USC, 7-5, 1-6, 6-1

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

1. #58 Dillon/Leatu, VU, def. #61 Kanakova/Stojic, USC, 8-3
2. Wu/Mira, VU, def. Miljana Jocic/Morgina, USC, 8-3
3. Popova/Saari-Bystrom, USC, def. Ulery/Preeg, VU, 8-6

Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2