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Sept. 15, 2011

Men’s Tennis Weekend Preview

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina men’s tennis kicks off its 2011-12 season this weekend as the squad splits between two tournaments. Head coach Josh Goffi will take four Gamecocks to the Duke Fab 4 in Durham, N.C., while assistant coach Matt Lucas will travel with three student-athletes to the UNCW Collegiate Tennis Invitational in Wilmington, N.C. Of the seven Gamecocks slated to play this weekend, five are competing in their first collegiate events as Goffi integrates the nation’s No. 3 recruiting class into his program.

“Our players are excited and ready to work,” Goffi said. “This team has a very high end as we grow and mature together. We’re looking forward to this weekend and our first fall tournaments. Great teams will be playing at both sites. It’s great for our young guys. It’s a unique experience, and they’ll have an opportunity to see the highest level of tennis in college over this weekend.”

Traveling with Goffi to Duke are sophomores Chip Cox and Nick Jones and freshmen Andrew Adams and Carl Eguez. Jones is the veteran of the group, although injuries prevented him from competing last fall. He has improved all aspects of his game over the summer and looks to be on track for a successful second season. Cox exploded onto the scene in January to lead the team with 10 dual-match wins. He is making his fall debut for the Gamecocks but is no stranger to elite competition as five of his wins last season came in the No. 3 singles spot. Cox and Jones will team up in doubles as well. Adams and Eguez, both blue-chip recruits who will also pair in doubles at this event, will start their college careers against a challenging field that includes fellow SEC members Alabama and Kentucky as well as ACC foes Duke, North Carolina, NC State and Virginia Tech. The event will be played in three singles brackets and three doubles brackets, which will be announced by Friday morning.

Senior Henry Walker and freshmen Ben Barnette and Kyle Koch will kick of their seasons at UNC Wilmington’s event under Lucas’ direction. Walker has seen limited action for the Gamecocks, but is looking to develop his game in the fall and make an impact during the spring. South Carolinians Barnette and Koch will play both singles and doubles, turning former high school rivals into teammates. The tandem is extremely familiar with each other’s game as the two met in each of the last two South Carolina High School State Championship finals, with Koch coming out on top both times. The tournament field includes players from Campbell, Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, Old Dominion, Tulane, VCU and William & Mary.