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March 11, 2012

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March 11, 2012
Team S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 D1 D2 D3 F
Vanderbilt W W L L W W W W L 5
S. Carolina L L W W L L L L W 2

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina women’s tennis team (8-4, 1-3 SEC) fell to No. 22 Vanderbilt (11-5, 3-1 SEC) on Sunday by a 5-2 score at Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C.

Vanderbilt narrowly escaped with the doubles point, winning courts one and two. The Commodores won the No. 2 position easily with an 8-3 victory from Alex Leatu and Jackie Wu against Anya Morgina and Adriana Pereira.

At No. 3 doubles, the Gamecocks’ Josefin Andersson and Katerina Popova trailed Marie Casares and Nelly Radeva by a 7-5 score. Andersson and Popova fought back to win the next three games to take an 8-7 lead, but Vandy held serve to force a tiebreaker. After the score was tied 3-all heading to the changeover, Andersson and Popova won four of the next five rallies to snag the victory.

On court one, Carolina’s Jaklin Alawi and Dominika Kanakova had a 5-3 lead against Ashleigh Antal and Lauren Mira, but Vanderbilt came back to take a 6-5 advantage. South Carolina then pulled ahead 7-6, but Vandy countered to win the next two games before Carolina sent the match to a tiebreaker. The two teams were tied at six heading to the second changeover. Vandy then got an unforced error from the Gamecocks and Mira hit a forehand volley winner at the net on the next point to put her team ahead 1-0 heading to singles play.

“I was very pleased with the effort on courts one and three in doubles,” interim head coach Katarina Petrovic said. “They fought well. I thought we had energy today. But, what I minded in doubles is that I need all six girls to be on the same page; that means all three doubles. When that happens, we can probably get the doubles point.”

South Carolina quickly tied the score at 1-all thanks to a 6-2, 6-1 victory from Kanakova over Leatu at No. 3 singles, but Vanderbilt fired back with Wu’s 6-4, 6-1 triumph over Morgina at the No. 1 slot. The Commodores then went ahead 3-1 after Antal defeated Pereira in three sets 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 on court five. It marked the first SEC loss this season for Pereira.

“Leatu played No. 1 for Vanderbilt last year, and Anya won (against her), but it was not as easy as how Dominika won today,” Petrovic said. “She stuck with the game plan and knew exactly what she wanted to do. I was really pleased with her win because the last few singles matches she came up short. This was a great win and a great emotional win for her because she’s working really hard right now.”

The remaining three matches on courts two, four and six were very tight when Antal gave Vanderbilt a 3-1 upper hand. At two, Alawi and Mira split sets and Alawi led 1-0 in the third. Popova was up a set and the second was tied 3-all versus Casares. The No. 6 spot between Andersson and Radeva was in the third with Radeva leading 2-1.

The No. 6 match ended up being the clincher for Vanderbilt with Radeva beating Andersson 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. Popova scored her third victory in a row in SEC play to make the score 4-2 after she outlasted Casares 6-4, 7-5, and Mira edged Alawi in the third set to win 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to give Vandy’s its fifth point.

“This was definitely one of the most emotional matches Katerina has ever played in college tennis,” Petrovic said. “She was very loud and that’s a huge advantage for us in the future.”

South Carolina will be back in action with consecutive home matches Saturday and Sunday at Carolina Tennis Center. The Gamecocks take on Georgia State at 1 p.m. on Saturday and then Old Dominion on Sunday at 11 a.m.

1. #29 Jackie Wu, VU, def. #34 Anya Morgina, USC, 6-4, 6-1
2. #98 Lauren Mira, VU, def. #64 Jaklin Alawi, USC, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
3. Dominika Kanakova, USC, def. Alex Leatu, VU, 6-2, 6-1
4. Katerina Popova, USC, def. Marie Casares, VU, 6-4, 7-5
5. Ashleigh Antal, VU, def. Adriana Pereira, USC, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
6. Nelly Radeva, VU, def. Josefin Andersson, USC, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3

Order of Finish: 3, 1, 5, 6, 4, 2

1. Antal/Mira, VU, def. Alawi/Kanakova, USC, 9-8 (8-6)
2. #50 Leatu/Wu, VU, def. Morgina/Pereira, USC, 8-3
3. Andersson/Popova, USC, def. Casares/Radeva, VU, 9-8 (7-4)

Order of Finish: 2, 3, 1