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April 7, 2011

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina men’s tennis makes its final road trip of the regular season this weekend, taking on a pair of top-10 SEC foes. The Gamecocks first travel to No. 4 Tennessee for a 2 p.m. contest on Fri., April 8, before heading to No. 7 Georgia for a 1 p.m. matchup on Sun., April 10.

South Carolina heads into its final three matches of the regular season hoping to build on the character the Gamecocks showed head coach Josh Goffi in a 5-2 loss to then-No. 14 Kentucky last weekend. The Gamecocks recovered from losing all six first sets in singles to win three second sets against the highly-touted Wildcats. Alexander Kostanov and Chip Cox went on to win their matches in three sets. Goffi was pleased with the grit and determination of his players in that situation, and will need to see more of it as they face three top 20 teams in the next two weeks leading up to the SEC Tournament in Gainesville, Fla., the following week.

The fourth-ranked Vols, who are 17-3 on the season and 7-1 in SEC action, boast five nationally-ranked players, including three in the top 50. Sophomore Rhyne Williams leads the way as his 30-8 overall record has him ranked No. 4 in the nation. Williams plays in the No. 2 singles slot for Tennessee, where he has a 9-1 record. Ranked No. 12 in the nation, senior John-Patrick Smith leads the Vols’ singles lineup. He is 9-1 in the top spot and 34-10 overall on the season. Tennys Sandgren rounds out the trio of top-50 players at No. 48 behind a 28-4 overall record that includes a perfect 15-0 slate in the No. 3 spot in the singles order for UT. Smith and Boris Conkic team up to form the country’s top doubles team. The duo is undefeated in 15 dual-match outings and 19-1 on the season. Williams and Sandgren play in the No. 2 spot in the Vols’ order and are ranked No. 61 in the nation with a 13-4 overall record.

Georgia brings a perfect 8-0 SEC slate into the weekend. The Bulldogs’ 17-3 overall record includes nine shutouts and has them ranked No. 7 in the nation. Upperclassmen are leading the way for Georgia, headlined by junior Will Spencer. The transfer from Texas A&M is ranked No. 14 in the nation with a 29-10 record that includes a 5-5 mark in Georgia’s top spot in the singles lineup. Senior Javier Garrapiz is 28-10 this season and ranked No. 29 in the country after earning All-America honors as a junior. In the No. 3 spot, Sadio Doumbia is 12-3 in dual matches en route to a 30-8 overall slate, which has him ranked No. 54 in the country. The Bulldogs also boast a pair of ranked doubles teams. Garrapiz and freshman Hernus Pieters are No. 11 with a 22-5 record that includes a 12-5 mark in the top spot in the doubles lineup. Doumbia and junior Ignacio Taboada are 21-7 this season and ranked No. 37 in the country.

The Gamecocks are 18-28 all-time against Tennessee with their last victory over the Vols coming in a 4-3 decision in the 2006 SEC Tournament. Georgia is 30-6 all-time against South Carolina. The Gamecocks’ last win over the Bulldogs was a 4-3 outcome at home on April 3, 2005, when Georgia was ranked No. 8 in the nation.

South Carolina closes the regular season on Sat., April 16, hosting No. 16 Florida at 1 p.m. at Maxcy Gregg Tennis Center. The Gamecocks will recognize their senior captains, Johannes Pulsfort and Chris Sheehan, prior to the match.