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Feb. 25, 2012

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 46 South Carolina completed its doubleheader sweep with a 6-1 win over Charlotte Saturday afternoon. The Gamecocks (10-1) won all three doubles matches and got a win from freshman Kyle Koch in the No. 4 singles match to clinch the victory. Koch’s effort capped an afternoon that saw all four freshmen in the singles lineup collect wins along with senior Ivan Machado. The win give the Gamecocks their best start to a season since the 2009 team opened 12-1.

“One of our goals was to be 10-1 going into SEC play, so our team is confident getting ready for the tough schedule ahead,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “This young team is still learning how to compete the way we’ll need to in order to be successful against SEC opponents. The maturity of four freshmen is growing exponentially with each match. Today we had two matches where that group definitely got better. It was also great to see Ivan [Machado] bounce back after a tough loss in the first match today. He competed extremely well against a good player, and we look forward to seeing what he can bring next week.”

Much like the first match today, the Gamecocks swept the three doubles matches. Koch and Carl Eguez sealed the match’s first point with an 8-2 win over Charlotte’s Paul Cisti and Anthony Davison in the No. 3 match. The two teams traded service breaks for four straight games late in the match, but the Gamecock duo had the cushion of a break in the fourth game and went on to win the match.

In singles action, the Gamecocks were in a battle early with four matches on serve midway through the first sets. South Carolina led by two breaks each in Machado and Andrew Adams’ matches in the Nos. 1 and 2 spots, respectively. While Adams cruised to a 6-1 first-set win over Charlotte’s Alex Callot, Machado saw Jack Williams battle back to pull within 4-3 before succumbing to the Gamecock senior, 6-4.

On Court 6, Carl Eguez dropped his last two service games to fall in the first set 3-6 to Nate Shanok. Chip Cox also fell behind late to drop his first set to Kamil Kahlil, 4-6. South Carolina reclaimed its advantage with Koch holding onto his final break for a 6-4 win over Cisti in the No. 4 match. The last Gamecock to wrap up his first set was Thiago Pinheiro in the No. 5 matchup with Anthony Davison. The Gamecock freshman rallied from 1-3 down to win the next five games, including a break in the final game to win the set 6-3.

Adams put South Carolina up 2-0 with a 6-1 second set over Calott. Match point came on a great backhand volley that had Adams reached back to pull out the winner. Charlotte halved its deficit with Kahlil’s 6-0 second-set win over Cox.

Machado went up a break in his second set when Williams’ backhand passing shot went wide for a 3-2 advantage. The two continued to battle, but Machado closed the match with a strong serve-volley effort in the final game of the 6-4 victory, bringing the Gamecocks to the edge of victory.

On Court 4, Cisti broke Koch in his first service game, but the Irmo, S.C., native got back on serve with a break for 2-3. He surged ahead 4-3 with another break, and rallied back from 40-Love on Cisti’s last service game. Koch built three match points, but the 49er would not relinquish another break. Koch closed out his match and the Gamecocks’ 10th win of the season with a strong hold in his final game for a 6-4 set.

Pinheiro wrapped up his win in the No. 5 match with a 6-0 second set. While the final stanza was filled with long, hard-fought games, when it came time to close the win, Pinheiro delivered. Eguez was the final match on court after he won his second set 6-2 with a drop volley. He carried that momentum into the third with a break in the first game. He added another, but Shanok answered it immediately to stay within reach at 4-2. Eguez kept up the pressure, though, and closed the set 6-3 for the Gamecocks’ final margin of victory.

South Carolina opens SEC play next weekend at Carolina Tennis Center. Friday’s match against No. 4 Georgia begins at 2:30 p.m., and the Gamecocks host No. 21 Tennessee on Sunday at 1 p.m.

No. 46 South Carolina 6, Charlotte 1

Doubles (Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2)
1. Ivan Machado / Chip Cox (SC) def. Jack Williams/Alex Calott (CHA) 8-5
2. Andrew Adams / Thiago Pinheiro (SC) def. Kamil Kahlil/Alex Weber (CHA) 8-4
3. Kyle Koch / Carl Eguez (SC) def. Paul Cisti/Anthony Davison (CHA) 8-2

Singles (Order of Finish: 2, 3, 1, 4, 5, 6)
1. Ivan Machado (SC) def. Jack Williams (CHA) 6-4, 6-4
2. Andrew Adams (SC) def. Alex Calott (CHA) 6-1, 6-1
3. Kamil Kahlil (CHA) def. Chip Cox (SC) 6-4, 6-0
4. Kyle Koch (SC) def. Paul Cisti (CHA) 6-4, 6-4
5. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) def. Anthony Davison (CHA) 6-3, 6-0
6. Carl Eguez (SC) def. Nate Shanok (CHA) 3-6, 6-2, 6-3