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Feb. 18, 2012

WILMINGTON, N.C. – No. 48 South Carolina stormed through the first four singles matches to score a 4-3 win at No. 46 UNC Wilmington Saturday afternoon at the UNCW Tennis Complex. The Gamecocks (8-1) shook off a slow start singles play after the Seahawks (5-2) swept the doubles matches. Freshman Kyle Koch sealed the win in the No. 5 spot with a straight-set victory.

“Our team showed great character today against a very good UNC Wilmington team, especially after the NC State loss last week,” said South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi. “We lost the doubles point today and were down early on five of the six singles matches. It was an absolute battle, but the players refused to lose. We started four freshmen in singles, and three of them came through with big points today. I am so proud of the way those young guys, especially, have been stepping up this year.”

The Gamecocks shuffled their doubles lineup for the first time in several weeks, but the Seahawks were unfazed by the changes and swept all three matches to take an early lead. In singles play, four of the six first sets were decided by late service breaks with each team winning two. Only Gamecock sophomore Chip Cox and freshman Thiago Pinheiro secured their first sets more easily in the Nos. 3 and 6 spots, respectively. Pinheiro went on to level the team score with his 6-4, 6-3 win over Kaue Pereira.

Freshman Andrew Adams was one of the Gamecocks to win his first set 7-5, drawing a service break in his final opportunity against Chris Cooprider in the No. 2 match. He carried that momentum into the second set, in which he dominated Cooprider 6-0 for a 2-1 South Carolina lead. Cox closed out his win over Pedro Mol in the No. 3 contest, but had to gut out a tiebreaker, winning it 8-6, to get the Gamecocks within a point of their eighth win of the season.

Like Adams, Koch won his first set 7-5, breaking Sam Williams’ serve late in the set. The Gamecock freshman rode the emotion of the win to a 6-3 second set, clinching the win for South Carolina.

UNC Wilmington went on to win the final two matches on court. Kosta Blank turned his 7-5 first set win into a 6-4 second set over Carl Eguez in the No. 4 matchup. Senior Ivan Machado dropped his first set to No. 68 Rafael Aita 7-5 at the top of the lineup, but the Gamecocks’ leader battled for a second-set tiebreaker 7-6 (2), eyeing his first win over a ranked opponent this season. The Seahawks’ sophomore was fighting to maintain his undefeated record this season, and collected a 6-3 third set victory.

South Carolina looks ahead to its debut at the Carolina Tennis Center on Sat., Feb. 25. The Gamecocks play Furman at 10 a.m. and Charlotte at 4 p.m. in their final tune-ups before kicking off SEC action at home against No. 4 Georgia (March 2) and No. 20 Tennessee (March 4).

No. 48 South Carolina 4, No. 46 UNC Wilmington 3

Doubles (Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1)
1. Kosta Blank/Chris Cooprider (UNCW) def. Ivan Machado / Thiago Pinheiro (SC) 8-2
2. Sam Williams/Michael Reilly (UNCW) def. Andrew Adams / Chip Cox (SC) 8-6
3. Rafael Aita/Pedro Mol (UNCW) def. Kyle Koch / Carl Eguez (SC) 8-4

Singles (Order of Finish: 6, 2, 3, 5, 4, 1)
1. (68) Rafael Aita (UNCW) def. Ivan Machado (SC) 7-5, 6-7 (2), 6-3
2. Andrew Adams (SC) def. Chris Cooprider (UNCW) 7-5, 6-0
3. Chip Cox (SC) def. Pedro Mol (UNCW) 6-3, 7-6 (6)
4. Kosta Blank (UNCW) def. Carl Eguez (SC) 7-5, 6-4
5. Kyle Koch (SC) def. Sam Williams (UNCW) 7-5, 6-3
6. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) def. Kaue Pereira (UNCW) 6-4, 6-3