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March 4, 2012

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 22 South Carolina dropped a 5-2 to decision to No. 19 Tennessee Sunday afternoon to close out its first weekend of SEC action at Carolina Tennis Center. Freshmen Andrew Adams and Thiago Pinheiro picked up the points for the Gamecocks (10-4, 0-2 SEC), but only Adams’ came before the Vols clinched the victory.

“We saw some good things today, but we also had some disappointments,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “Overall, our doubles lineup is struggling, and we need to look at how to fix that immediately. Individually, I’m proud of Thiago [Pinheiro] and Andrew [Adams] for getting their wins today. I’m also extremely proud of Nick [Jones] and Chip [Cox] for the way they fought and showed resilience in their matches today. I’m disappointed in the way that Ivan [Machado] competed in the last Georgia-Tennessee weekend of his career. He is a senior, and we expected him to carry the flag for our program during our more competitive matches. If we’re going to be a great team, he has to do that for us. That said, it’s a long SEC season ahead of us, although it doesn’t get any easier. We’re going to get back to work this week to prepare for our next set of matches.”

The Gamecocks dropped the doubles point when a rally by their No. 2 tandem of Chip Cox and Ivan Machado fell just short of the mark. The Vols went up 2-0 with a 6-1, 6-1 win by No. 95 Hunter Reese over Machado in the No. 3 singles match. Adams was quick to cut that lead in half, though, with his win in the No. 2 singles matchup. After being broken twice to start the match, the Gamecock freshman continued to grind away at Brandon Fickey, getting the second break back when Fickey double faulted. Adams went on to hold at Love in his next game, capping a 4-0 surge that put him back on serve at 4-3. With Fickey serving to keep the set going, Adams got up break point and crushed a cross-court forehand to win the game and the set 6-4. He carried that momentum into the second set, not allowing Fickey to get on the board at 6-0.

In the No. 5 match, Kyle Koch was having a difficult time controlling his serve in the blustery conditions, suffering a pair of breaks in the first set, dropping it to Tennessee’s Edward Jones 6-3. He appeared to be in better control early in the second set, but Jones managed to pull away for a 6-2 second-set victory, bringing the Vols within a point of the match at 3-1.

The No. 4 contest between Cox and Jarryd Chaplin, Cox got behind 1-2 before finding his rhythm. He could not get the break back, however, and lost the first set 6-4. In the second set, he also found himself trailing 1-2, but got back on serve in the next game. Chaplin was serving to stay in the set when Cox battled for the break to win it 6-4. After holding serve to open the third set, the Gamecock sophomore once again dropped the set’s third game and could not recover the break, falling to Chaplin 6-3 as the Vols clinched the team victory.

The top and bottom of the singles lineup were still on court and heading for third sets. At the No. 6 spot, Pinheiro won his first set 6-3 with a break midway through and a service winner on set point. He and Tennessee’s Taylor Patrick ground out the second set, staying on serve until the final game. Tied at 5-5, Pinheiro had three break points to get ahead, but Patrick managed to hold him off before going on to win the set 7-5. With the team outcome decided, the match went to a super-tiebreaker. Undaunted by dropping the second set, Pinheiro dominated the super-tiebreaker, jumping out to a 6-0 lead before an explosive passing shot sealed the 10-3 victory.

No. 92 Nick Jones and No. 36 Mikelis Libietis provided the most dramatic match of the day, fitting for the players at the top of their teams’ lineups. Early in the first set, both players had to stave off break points, and Jones was the first to crack surge ahead, breaking Libietis at Love to take a 3-2 lead. The two traded service breaks over the next four games before Jones was able to hold his to win the set 6-4 when Libietis netted a backhand to end a long rally. Jones kept the pressure on, breaking his opponent in the first game of the second set. He consolidated the break by holding his serve for a 2-0 lead, but Libietis stormed through the next six games to win the set 6-2. The two were even through four games of the second set when Jones surged ahead 3-2 with powerful passing shots. Libietis continued to pressure the Gamecock sophomore in each service game, though, and Jones was clinging to the break at 5-4 and serving for the match. Jones fought off a break point but got back to deuce. He proceeded to set up four match points, but could not finish off Libietis, who eventually got a pair of forehand errors from Jones to win the game. Two games later, the match was decided in a tiebreaker, which Libietis capped with back-to-back service winners for a 7-2 victory.

South Carolina is on the road for next weekend’s matches, beginning on Fri., March 9, at No. 9 Kentucky.

No. 19 Tennessee 5, No. 22 South Carolina 2

Doubles (Order of Finish: 1, 2)
1. (17) Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) def. Nick Jones/Kyle Koch (SC) 8-2
2. Brandon Fickey/Jarryd Chaplin (UT) def. Chip Cox/Ivan Machado (SC) 8-6
3. Edward Jones/Bryan Swartz (UT) led Andrew Adams/Thiago Pinheiro (SC) 6-5 DNF

Singles (Order of Finish: 3, 2, 5, 4, 6, 1)
1. (36) Mikelis Libietis (UT) def. (92) Nick Jones (SC) 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (2)
2. Andrew Adams (SC) def. Brandon Fickey (UT) 6-4, 6-0
3. (95) Hunter Reese (UT) def. Ivan Machado (SC) 6-1, 6-1
4. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) def. Chip Cox (SC) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
5. Edward Jones (UT) def. Kyle Koch (SC) 6-3, 6-2
6. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) def. Taylor Patrick (UT) 6-3, 5-7, 1-0 (3