March 9, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The No. 38 South Carolina women’s tennis team snagged its first SEC win Friday with a 6-1 triumph over Kentucky at Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. South Carolina improved to 8-3 on the year and 1-2 in league play, while Kentucky dropped to 8-6 and 0-3 in the SEC.
The Gamecocks picked up wins on courts one and three to claim the doubles point over Kentucky. At three, South Carolina’s Josefin Andersson and Katerina Popova made short work of Marni Venter and CeCe Witten by an 8-1 score. The Wildcats countered with a win on court two from Caitlin McGraw and Edmee Morin-Kougoucheff over Anya Morgina and Adriana Pereira. South Carolina had a 5-2 lead at the No. 2 position before UK came back to win the match 8-6.
“Both me and Katerina, we were saying before the match that today we were going to play that match with what we’ve been working on in practice,” Andersson said. “No matter if we’re winning or losing, we’re going to keep working on what we’ve been working on in practice the previous week. It really paid off and we can see improvement. I think all of our doubles are playing better now.”
At No. 1 doubles, South Carolina’s Jaklin Alawi and Dominika Kanakova trailed Khristina Blajkevitch and Jessica Stiles 4-1 after five games, but the Gamecock duo fought back to the tie the score at 4-all. After the score went to 5-all, the Gamecocks snagged two straight games for a 7-5 advantage. Kentucky held serve in the 13th game to set up Alawi with a chance to serve out the match. The Wildcats missed the first two service returns and Alawi nailed two aces on the ensuing serves to pick up an 8-6 triumph.
The Gamecocks had no trouble getting to the fourth and clinching point to take the match. Alawi rebounded from a tough loss against Tennessee with a straight set finish over McGraw 6-0, 6-2 at No. 2 singles, and Andersson finished soon afterward with a 6-3, 6-1 victory against Witten on court six. Pereira, who ran her SEC record to 3-0 this season, defeated Stephanie Fox 6-2, 6-2 at No. 5 singles to secure the victory for South Carolina.
“It was really important for Jaklin to get that win today,” interim head coach Katarina Petrovic said. “She told me one thing after the match, which was she took care of business. Jaklin definitely did that today.”
Following Pereira’s win, Popova earned a 7-5, 6-3 win against Morin-Kougoucheff at No. 4 singles to improve to 2-1 in SEC play. Morgina then completed a come-from-behind win at the top position to defeat Stiles in three sets 1-6, 6-1, 6-3. The last match on court saw Blajkevitch snag a 3-6, 6-3, (10-8) win over Kanakova at No. 3 singles for the Wildcats’ lone point of the day.
South Carolina will be back in action Sunday hosting No. 22 Vanderbilt at 1 p.m. at Carolina Tennis Center.
1. #34 Anya Morgina, USC, def. Jessica Stiles, UK, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3
2. #64 Jaklin Alawi, USC, def. Caitlin McGraw, UK, 6-0, 6-2
3. Khristina Blajkevitch, UK, def. Dominika Kanakova, USC, 3-6, 6-3, (10-8)
4. Katerina Popova, USC, def. Edmee Morin-Kougoucheff, UK, 7-5, 6-3
5. Adriana Pereira, USC, def. Stephanie Fox, UK, 6-2, 6-2
6. Josefin Andersson, USC, def. CeCe Witten, UK, 6-3, 6-1
Order of Finish: 2, 6, 5, 4, 1, 3
1. Alawi/Kanakova, USC, def. #55 Blajkevitch/Stiles, UK, 8-6
2. McGraw/Morin-Kougoucheff, UK, def. Morgina/Pereira, USC, 8-6
3. Andersson/Popova, USC, def. Marni Venter/Witten, UK, 8-1
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1