April 13, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 35 South Carolina men’s tennis travels to No. 10 Florida for the regular-season finale for both teams on Sat., April 14, at 1 p.m. The Gamecocks are 15-9 this season and have won two of their last four SEC outings for a 2-8 league record.
A young South Carolina team has turned up the pressure on its SEC foes down the stretch this season, coming within one point in each of its last two losses, which were against the No. 15 and No. 27 ranked teams in the nation. The Gamecocks picked up their first league win with a 4-3 win over No. 66 Alabama on March 30 and earned their first road SEC win in two seasons with a 4-1 win over No. 41 Arkansas last Sunday.
Stronger doubles play has helped South Carolina turn the tide as each of the three current doubles teams has at least four SEC wins in the eight outings they have been together. The sophomore duo of Nick Jones and Chip Cox is ranked No. 32 in the nation behind a 6-7 overall record, which includes a 5-3 mark at the top of the Gamecock lineup in SEC action. The team is 3-1 against opponents ranked in the top 50 in the nation. In the No. 3 spot, the freshman tandem of Kyle Koch and Carl Eguez are 5-2 in conference play and 9-3 overall this season. The duo will be looking to get back on track after having its eight-match win streak snapped at No. 27 LSU last weekend.
Head coach Josh Goffi has been pleased with the complete effort his team has shown in all six singles positions over the last two weeks, which has yielded wins in half the matches completed. Freshman Andrew Adams has thrived since his move to the No. 3 spot, posting a 5-1 SEC record from that position. Overall Adams has amassed 27 singles victories this season, which ranks him among the program’s all-time top-10 freshmen in that category. Senior Ivan Machado picked up his first SEC win from the top spot in the singles lineup last Sunday and will look to build on that momentum in his final regular-season match and into the last SEC Tournament of his career. Sophomore Chip Cox has a pair of singles wins in SEC action, both of which came in his last three matches. Koch has also won two of his last three league outings, including providing the clinching point last Sunday at No. 41 Arkansas.
Ranked No. 10 in the nation, Florida has a roster stacked with nationally ranked players. Four Gators are ranked among the nation’s top 65 in singles, and a pair of doubles tandems are in the top 45 in the country. Florida is 13-8 overall this season, including a 6-4 mark in SEC play, but the Gators saw their four-match win streak snapped at No. 27 LSU on Sunday. Florida’s doubles lineup starts with the nation’s ninth-ranked duo of Nassim Slilam and Billy Federhofer, which boasts a 12-8 overall record, including a 6-3 mark in SEC action. In singles, Bob van Overbeek sits atop the lineup with a No. 37 national ranking and a 19-14 overall record. Tripper Carleton is ranked No. 53 behind a 22-10 record highlighted by a 3-1 slate at the No. 2 spot in the order in SEC matches, where he is expected to play Saturday. Slilam holds down the No. 3 spot in the Gator lineup with a 20-12 overall record, including a 6-1 mark in league play, to rank No. 59 in the country. Spencer Newman rounds out the ranked quartet at No. 63. The sophomore is 30-8 on the season with a 6-2 record in SEC play.
The Gamecocks will travel to Starkville, Miss., for the 2012 SEC Tournament. The event begins on Thu., April 19, at A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.