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March 22, 2012

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 40 South Carolina gets back into SEC play this weekend against a pair of top-15 teams. The Gamecocks (13-5, 0-4 SEC) will take on No. 14 Ole Miss on Fri., March 23, at 1 p.m. at the Carolina Tennis Center. South Carolina then heads to Starkville to take on No. 12 Mississippi State at 2 p.m. (ET) on Sun., March 25.

“It was extremely important to get the wins (last week),” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “After we battled through a tough rivalry and consolidated that win with pretty convincing wins over the weekend. It was definitely a confidence builder coming back into the SEC schedule for the rest of the season. In terms of tennis and talent, we are right there, and we take pride in how hard we work and how hard we train. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of a match, though, it comes down to the belief that you should win rather than your opponent. You don’t get that just by ripping forehands or backhands. You get that through experience, and that takes time. Ole Miss and Mississippi State are two of the best teams in the conference, so it will be interesting to see the way we come out this weekend. With a little confidence and the experience of a few SEC matches, our young team should have a good showing this weekend.”

Senior Ivan Machado, currently ranked No. 104, clinched the match over archrival Clemson with a 5-7, 7-6 (0), 7-6 (2) win. Machado did not play over the weekend due to sickness, but will look to keep his three-match win streak in tact as the Gamecocks face a pair of talented teams. Andrew Adams was named SEC Freshman of the Week for the second time this season after winning every match he played last week. He leads the club with 14 dual-match wins in the 2012 campaign. Carl Eguez and (117) Thiago Pinheiro will also look to stay hot in SEC play this weekend after going a combined 4-1 last week in non-conference action.

Mississippi comes into the weekend at the top of its division with a 3-1 SEC record and a 7-4 mark overall this season. Heading the singles lineup is No. 13 Nik Scholtz. The freshman from South Africa has compiled a 9-1 record at the top singles spot this season and is 7-1 against ranked opponents. Scholtz is riding an eight-match win streak coming into the weekend. Junior Jonas Lutjen has seen most of his work at the No. 3 spot, logging six wins in 10 tries. The junior is currently ranked 35th in the nation and has won five of his last seven matches. Marcel Theimann teams up with his twin brother Chris to form the No. 12 doubles tandem in the nation. The twins are 7-2 in 2012 dual matches and are 3-1 against ranked opponents. Lutjen and Scholtz pair up in the No. 2 spot to form the 33rd ranked tandem in the country. The duo has gone 7-1 on the season at No. 2.

The Bulldogs of No. 12 Mississippi State start the weekend off hosting No. 11 Florida. MSU sits in a tie on top of the Western Division with its rival, Ole Miss, owning a 12-4, 3-1 SEC record and playing only two non-ranked teams thus far. The Bulldogs boast a lineup of four ranked singles players and the No. 24 ranked doubles tandem in the nation. Senior Artem Ilyushin, ranked 14th in the nation, mans the No. 1 singles spot for MSU with a 10-3 dual-match record for the season. No. 36 George Coupland is 12-2 at the No. 5 spot this year, and senior Louis Cant has gone 12-2 ranging between the No. 3 and 4 spots. Cant teams up with sophomore Malte Stropp to form the No. 24 doubles duo. The pairing are 6-5 for the year, with three wins coming in SEC play.

After this weekend, South Carolina will close out its home schedule next weekend with Friday and Sunday matches against No. 61 Alabama and No. 19 Auburn, respectively.