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Feb. 17, 2012

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 48 South Carolina ends a stretch of four road matches on Sat., Feb. 18, at No. 46 UNC Wilmington. Facing their fourth-straight ranked opponent, the Gamecocks (7-1) are 3-1 this season against other teams in the top 70. South Carolina is looking to bounce back from its lone loss of the season, but have had a week to recover from the setback.

“The guys weren’t pleased with the loss at all,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “They’re not happy that we’re 7-1, which is awesome to see. They know we’re playing a good team this weekend in UNC Wilmington. The coaches there know what they’re doing, and their team comes to play every single time. But, we’re ready. We’ve seen a little bit of stress and anxiety in our guys this week with the realization that they don’t want to see the season start sliding. We’re getting into the meat of it with good teams coming up. So, there’s an urgency from them that is relaxing for us as coaches.”

South Carolina looks for the most productive parts of its lineup to return to form this weekend. The Gamecocks entered the NC State match 19-2 in doubles, having not lost the match’s opening point all season, but the Wolfpack swept the three matches to put South Carolina on its heels. In singles action, the second half of the lineup had not lost a match in its previous three outings before dropping two of three to the Wolfpack.

Still, as veterans Nick Jones and Ivan Machado battle the challenges at the top of the order, South Carolina has generated a majority of its points from the Nos. 4-6 spots. On the season, the Gamecocks manning those positions have lost just three times in 15 matches. Freshman Kyle Koch has led the charge with a perfect 7-0 mark in dual-match play, including four wins in the No. 5 spot. Sophomore Chip Cox is 6-1 in dual matches this season, paced by his 4-1 record in the No. 4 position. Four different Gamecocks have played in the No. 6 position with freshman Carl Eguez and Koch each going 2-0 at the position. Fellow freshman Andrew Adams is playing in the highest spot among the newcomers, manning either the No. 2 or 3 spot this season. With a 7-1 record in dual-match play, the Laurel, Md., product has clinched four of the Gamecocks’ seven wins this season and picked up one of the Gamecocks’ two singles victories at NC State last week.

With a 5-1 record, UNC Wilmington provides yet another challenge for the Gamecocks as they wrap up their road swing. Sophomore Raphael Aita leads the way with a No. 68 ranking this week behind his perfect 6-0 record this spring, playing mostly in the No. 2 position. Kaue Pereira is currently headlining the second half of the order for UNCW, riding a three-match win streak. Juniors Chris Cooprider and Kosta Blank form the Seahawks’ top doubles tandem this season with a 4-2 record.

After this weekend’s trip, the Gamecocks host two more non-conference contests before turning their attention to SEC play. Weather permitting, South Carolina will play in the new Carolina Tennis Center for the first time in doubleheader action against Furman and Charlotte on Sat., Feb. 25. The Furman match starts at 10 a.m., and the 49ers arrive for a 4 p.m. contest.