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April 5, 2012

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina men’s tennis moved up two spots in the rankings this week, carrying the No. 38 into this weekend’s road matches. The Gamecocks (14-8, 1-7 SEC) travel first to No. 27 LSU for a 3 p.m. (ET) match on Fri., April 6, before heading to No. 41 Arkansas for a Sunday match that starts at 2 p.m. (ET).

South Carolina closed out the home portion of its season by splitting its matches last weekend, both by 4-3 scores. The Gamecocks edged out No. 66 Alabama on Friday evening before falling just short against No. 15 Auburn on Sunday. It was the Gamecocks’ doubles teams that set a positive tone early in both matches. In fact, South Carolina has won the doubles point in five of its last six outings, including three of four SEC contests. The Gamecocks’ No. 3 tandem of Kyle Koch and Carl Eguez has been the most potent part of the lineup as the duo is undefeated in league outings with a 9-1 overall record. At the top of the order, sophomores Nick Jones and Chip Cox are ranked 47th in the nation and capped their efforts last weekend by upending Auburn’s 16th-ranked pair in a tiebreak to complete the Gamecocks’ sweep of the doubles matches. South Carolina’s top duo is 5-4 in dual matches, including a 4-2 mark in SEC play and a 3-0 record against top-30 foes.

LSU faces the home stretch of SEC action having dropped its last five matches, four of which were against teams ranked among the nation’s top 15. The Tigers’ four straight league defeats leave them with a 2-6 SEC record with three matches remaining on the schedule. Three Tigers are ranked among the nation’s top 100 singles performers, led by No. 55 Olivier Borsos. The junior is coming off a win over the nation’s 19th-ranked player, which boosted his season record to 15-14 overall with an 8-9 mark at the top of LSU’s singles lineup. Senior Neal Skupski is ranked 73rd in the nation behind an 18-11 record, which includes a 10-6 mark in the No. 2 singles position. Freshman Chris Simpson rounds out the ranked trio, holding onto the No. 98 spot. He is 18-8 in his first collegiate season, boasting a 9-5 record in the No. 3 spot, including a 5-2 mark in SEC action.

Arkansas is set to host Florida on Friday before the Gamecocks arrive in Fayetteville for Sunday’s match. The Razorbacks enter the weekend with a 14-9 overall record, including a 1-7 mark in SEC action. Senior Nikolas Zogaj leads Arkansas with a No. 108 national rank and a 16-13 overall record. The Belgian is 4-4 in league play, but is just 1-3 against the SEC playing at the top of the singles lineup, where he is expected to compete this weekend. The Razorbacks boast the nation’s 48th-ranked doubles team at the top of their lineup in Matt Walters and Hall Fess. The veteran duo has piled up a 20-5 overall record, including a 12-4 slate in the No. 1 doubles position.

The Gamecocks have one match left on the schedule after this weekend. South Carolina heads to No. 9 Florida for a 1 p.m. contest on Sat., April 14, as its final tune-up before the SEC Tournament in Starkville, Miss. The league event begins on Thu., April 19.