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Feb. 8, 2013

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 49 South Carolina dropped a 5-2 decision to No. 36 Wake Forest in men’s tennis action at Carolina Tennis Center Friday evening. The Gamecocks (6-3) got off to a strong start in doubles, but the Demon Deacons rallied to win the doubles point and carried that momentum into singles play. Junior Tsvetan Mihov posted the first point for South Carolina with a pair of tiebreakers in the No. 1 match, while Thiago Pinheiro was the last Gamecock on court and delivered the victory in a third-set super-tiebreak.

“I give credit to Wake Forest,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “They withstood the storm early in doubles, and we didn’t take care of business in closing out those matches. We were up two breaks in the No. 2 match and had match point in the No. 1 match, in complete control of the point and didn’t shut the door. Wake took the momentum into singles and got early leads in most. Overall, it was a level match, but the fact that we missed the opportunity in doubles affected singles play. Wake gets credit for taking advantage of that.”

Tiebreaks were the order of the day as the teams combined to play nine of them over the nine matches that started. South Carolina was in command of doubles, looking as if the Gamecocks would keep their streak of doubles victories alive. Kyle Koch and Harry Menzies leapt out to a 4-0 lead over Danny Kreyman and Adam Lee in the No. 2 match, but the Demon Deacon tandem clawed its way back, winning four of the next five games to get back on serve at 5-4. Tied at 6-6, Wake pressed the Gamecocks on their serve, eventually breaking through and consolidating with a hold to win the match 8-6. Meanwhile, in the No. 1 match, Mihov and Chip Cox got a break on David Hopkins and Amogh Prabhakar midway through and were solid down the stretch. Serving with a 7-5 lead, Mihov’s service winner up the line set up match point, which would have left the team point to the No. 3 match, which was on serve late. Wake drove a forehand up the line for a winner to get to deuce and took the game on a great return that left Mihov to volley from his shoestrings and into the net. After the Demon Deacons held serve, the tiebreak was equally back-and-forth. Again, it was a service return that made the difference for a 5-3 Wake Forest lead, and the Demon Deacons closed out the win with an ace to go up 1-0.

The Gamecocks looked to regroup in singles, but Wake Forest kept the pressure up, going up a service break early in three of the six matches. Sam Bloom tallied the Demon Deacons’ second point of the match with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Harry Menzies in the No. 6 match, capitalizing on breaks in Menzies’ first service game of each set to post the victory. Cox battled with No. 59 Prabhakar in the No. 2 match, but could not overcome an opening-game service break to drop the first set 6-2. In the second set, Cox struck first with a break for a 3-1 lead, but Prabhakar answered by winning the next four games and holding on for a 6-4 win to make it a 3-0 Wake Forest lead.

Andrew Adams leapt out to a 4-1 lead in the No. 3 match against Kreyman, but the nation’s 90th-ranked player got back on serve at 4-3 and sent the set to a tiebreak. Adams fought off three set points in the tiebreak before falling 7-6 (4). In the second set, the two traded service breaks midway through, and Kreyman pounced as Adams served to stay in the match, closing out the set to seal the team victory for Wake Forest.

On Court 1, Mihov and Hopkins were locked in the tightest match of the six with both sets ending in a tiebreak. Mihov fell behind at 2-3 in the first set, but continued his steady movement of Hopkins to level the set at 4-4. In the tiebreak, Mihov sprinted out to a 5-2 lead and claimed a 7-6 (3) victory. The setback had Hopkins on his heels, and Mihov opened the second set with a pair of service breaks to go up 3-0. Hopkins quickly got one back, but Mihov kept him at bay in a lengthy eighth game to stay up 5-3. Two games later, Hopkins broke through to even the set at 5-5. The second-set tiebreak was, again, all Mihov early, staking out a 5-2 lead, but with three match points in his pocket, the Gamecock junior put a pair of backhands into the net. In the end, Hopkins committed a pair of errors that cost him the match as his forehand sailed wide to give Mihov an 8-7 advantage, and Hopkins double-faulted on match point.

Koch shook off a slow start against Lee in the No. 5 match, dropping the first set 6-4 and falling behind 3-0 in the second before forcing a second-set tiebreak. The Gamecock sophomore got back on serve with a great return that handcuffed Lee into sending a forehand long to level the set at 4-4. The two traded service breaks and holds before opening the tiebreak. Koch jumped out to a 6-2 lead and Lee held off a pair of match points before a forehand in the net delivered the set to Koch 7-6 (4). The Demon Deacon turned the page quickly in the third-set super-tiebreak, grinding out a 10-6 win by erasing a 4-6 deficit midway through.

For the second time in as many matches against Wake Forest, Pinheiro was the last Gamecock on the court. He opened the first set against Ho in the No. 4 match with a service break, only to see Ho stick with it and level the set at 4-4. Pinheiro got the break back at 6-5 and scorched an unreturnable serve on set point to collect the 7-5 victory. The two players held serve throughout the second set and the tiebreak was just as even until a double fault cost Pinheiro the set 7-6 (8). The Brazilian burst through the first seven points of the third-set super-tiebreak for a 6-1 lead, capped by a great return of serve. But, Ho would not relent, battling his way back to a 9-8 advantage behind a series of crisp forehands. Pinheiro tied it a 9-9 with a well crafted point that yielded an easy overhead, but a long return on Ho’s next serve again set up match point for the Demon Deacon. Tied again at 10-10, Pinheiro showed solid defense to earn match point when Ho’s cross-court forehand sailed long. With the match on his racket, Ho double faulted to give Pinheiro the 12-10 victory.

The Gamecocks are back in action at Carolina Tennis Center on Sun., Feb. 10, against No. 34 NC State. Parking in the Athletics Village Garage on Heyward Street and admission to the tennis match are free.

#36 Wake Forest 5, #49 South Carolina 2

Doubles (Order of Finish: 2, 1)
1. David Hopkins/Amogh Prabhakar (WF) def. Chip Cox / Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 8-7 (4)
2. Danny Kreyman/Adam Lee (WF) def. Kyle Koch/Harry Menzies (SC) 8-6
3. Sam Bloom/Jon Ho (WF) led Ben Barnette/Thiago Pinheiro (SC) 7-7 (4-3)

Singles (Order of Finish: (6, 2, 3*, 1, 5, 4)
1. Tsvetan Mihov (SC) def. David Hopkins (WF) 7-6 (3), 7-6 (7)
2. (59) Amogh Prabhakar (WF) def. Chip Cox (SC) 6-2, 6-4
3. (90) Danny Kreyman (WF) def. Andrew Adams (SC) 7-6 (4), 6-4
4. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) def. Jon Ho (WF) 7-5, 6-7 (8), 1-0 (10)
5. Adam Lee (WF) def. Kyle Koch (SC) 6-4, 6-7 (4), 1-0 (6)
6. Sam Bloom (WF) def. Harry Menzies (SC) 6-3, 6-2