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Jan. 20, 2012

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina men’s tennis opens its spring season Sat., Jan. 21, with a doubleheader against two Southern Conference opponents. The Gamecocks will host Appalachian State at 10 a.m. and Wofford at 4 p.m., with both matches taking place at the USC Indoor Facility. South Carolina comes into its 2012 campaign returning five players from last year’s squad and an impressive group of five freshmen.

“Coach [Matt] Lucas and I are anxious to get going with our dual match schedule this weekend,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “It’s completely different from playing in tournaments because it’s no longer an individual sport with an individual mentality. Our players understand that and are ready to sacrifice everything they have for the team. We’re also excited to see how all the hard work the guys have put in will pay off for them. They have embraced our team-first philosophy and have put in an incredible amount of work this season, building on what most of them started last season. We’re ready to bring that to our competitions this weekend.

Senior Ivan Machado will lead the way for the Gamecocks, coming off of a solid fall season of play. Machado posted a 4-3 record in singles matches, and also went 3-2 in doubles contests. Machado advanced to the round of 16 at the ITA Carolinas Regional in Chapel Hill, N.C., last fall, including a win over Appalachian St.’s Sebastien King.

Sophomore Welshman Nick Jones also had an impressive fall season, logging an 8-4 record in singles play, including two wins over ranked opponents. Jones advanced to the round of 16 at both the ITA Regional last October and in the SEC Indoor Championships held last week in Lexington, Ky.

Newcomer Andrew Adams has impressed thus far with an 8-4 tournament record to his name. The Laurel, Md., native finished in third place at the Duke Fab Four Invite last September. Fellow freshmen Ben Barnette and Kyle Koch teamed up for a 3-1 doubles record in the fall and combined for seven wins in singles play.

“It has been impressive to see how the guys have improved their games through the work they’ve done in practice and what they’ve done individually,” assistant coach Matt Lucas said. “Every player has showed marked improvement because of his commitment to working hard. When the guys came back this semester, it was clear how much they did on their own over the break. Them holding themselves accountable made a big difference in them coming back ready to play. That should show up in early-season success.”

Appalachian State heads into Columbia coming off of a solid 15-6 season in 2011 and returning eight players from that squad. The Mountaineers are led by senior Alex Markov, who earned first-team All-SoCon honors last year at the top singles spot. Sophomore Sebastien King is coming off of an impressive 2011 where he posted a 15-7 record and earned a spot on the SoCon All-Freshman Team. In doubles, seniors Alain Humblet and Philip Kloc form the Mountaineers’ top duo, logging a 17-5 record in 2011.

Wofford is led by a pair of seniors playing in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots. Tinus Van Wyk and Stuart Robinson went a combined 13-25 in Wofford’s 2011 campaign, and they also teamed up to form the Terriers’ top doubles duo. Wofford went 8-13 last season and return’s ten players from last year’s team.