Oct. 12, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina men’s tennis closes out its fall schedule at the ITA Carolinas Regional this weekend. Doubles action begins Thursday afternoon with the finals of both singles and doubles set to take place on Monday. Student-athletes from 22 other schools in North and South Carolina are slated to compete at the event, which will schedule matches at both the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center in Chapel Hill, N.C., and at the Sheffield Tennis Center in Durham, N.C.
“We have this last event to culminate the fall, and our guys are fired up for it,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “It’s a big tournament with qualifying for the NCAA indoor championship on the line, so they understand what’s at stake. But, they also see it as an opportunity to go out and see what they’ve done in practice and put it to the true test. As coaches, we’re excited to see how the players go out there and what kind of mentality they’ll have on the court.”
Seven Gamecocks are entered in the event, including senior Ivan Machado, who was sidelined in the season’s first two tournament. He will look to shake off the rust early, teaming with freshman Carl Eguez in doubles at 4:30 p.m. Thursday against Winthrop’s Guy Kubi and Nadav Ruppin. Sophomore Chip Cox and freshman Kyle Koch put their 1-1 doubles record on the line at 3:30 p.m. Thursday against Yuta Hirokawa and Rich Meade of Winthrop. The doubles tandem of sophomore Nick Jones and freshman Andrew Adams drew the tournament’s ninth seed and will not play until the second round of doubles Thursday evening. Freshman Ben Barnette will compete in singles at the tournament.
In singles action, Jones and Adams have been the most successful Gamecocks so far this fall. Jones has reaped the rewards of his offseason training with a 4-2 record that includes a fifth-place finish at the Duke Fab Four and a second-round showing at the Southern Intercollegiates. Adams has exploded into his college career, finishing third in his bracket of the Duke Fav Four and picking up a pair of wins in the consolation round of the Southern Intercollegiates to bring a 5-2 record into this weekend’s action.
Cox and Eguez are next in line for the Gamecocks with three singles wins each so far this fall. Cox is battling this fall but has shown his willingness to compete for every point, as two of his three wins have come in third-set super tiebreakers. Eguez was briefly slowed by an injury but shook it off to advance to the round of 16 in the top bracket of the Southern Intercollegiates before falling to a top-40 opponent.
“We purposely scheduled only three fall events this year so that we could get a look at our young players in the first two events then have time to work with them leading up to this week’s event,” Goffi said. “It could be a coming out party for our team, but that’s not necessarily what we’re looking for. The most important thing for our team is to build confidence. Our guys have been working really hard, and they are playing very good tennis right now. I’d love to see a few go deep in this tournament for their own person belief and for the rest of our team to see that the guys they battle in practice every day are going out there and beating some of the best players in the region and possibly the nation. It will do a lot for their perspective on how good we are as a team.”