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Feb. 10, 2013

COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 49 South Carolina had to battle back all afternoon, but was rewarded with a 4-3 win over No. 34 NC State at Carolina Tennis Center on Sunday. The Gamecocks (7-3) dropped the doubles point, but got a pair of comeback three-set victories from Andrew Adams and Thiago Pinheiro to earn their seventh win of the season and their first over a team ranked higher than them.

“We needed that,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “It’s an understatement, but we needed it most importantly for our team to understand that they’re tough and it’s okay to still win when you don’t play well. After playing so well against Georgia Tech last week, we struggled on Friday against Wake Forest, and it seemed we weren’t comfortable leading against a pretty good team. So today was a great step in our team’s growth process. We came out a little sluggish and had some pressure on us, but I told them between doubles and singles that if they want to be a good team, the time is now. They need to feel that pressure, and they grew up a lot today. It was important to see that even when we’re down, which we were in every match, we can come back to get a win.”

In doubles action, the Wolfpack took advantage of early service breaks in the Nos. 1 and 3 matches to earn the first team point of the match.

The Gamecocks turned things around in singles play and took a 2-1 lead with wins from Tsvetan Mihov and Kyle Koch. Mihov dominated his first set against Robbie Mudge in the top spot in the lineup and stayed strong to finish with a 6-1, 6-3 victory. In the No. 5 spot, Koch played steady and defeated Sean Weber 6-2, 6-2. NC State came back and tied the score at 2-2 with a win at No. 2 singles. Chip Cox fought hard in the first set, but dropped the tiebreak to Austin Powell 7-6 (5) and was not able to regain the momentum in the second set, falling 6-0.

In the three remaining matches, the Gamecocks had a lead in just one as Harry Menzies claimed the first set 6-3 from Beck Bond in the No. 6 contest. Adams and Pinheiro had each ceded their first sets, leaving the Wolfpack in the driver’s seat for the team decision. But, the tables turned in all three matches with Bond rallying to win his second set 7-5. Likewise, Adams pushed past Simone Norenius in the No. 3 match with a late service break to claim this second set 7-5. Pinheiro also mounted a comeback to level his No. 4 match at a set each, topping Dave Thomson 6-4 in the second after trailing 0-3 at the start.

Menzies fell behind early in the third set, and Bond put the Wolfpack up 3-2 with a 6-4 win. Adams answered with an efficient, dominating 6-1 third-set win over Norenius to knot the match at 3-3.

For the second time in as many matches, Pinheiro was the last on the court, only this time the team outcome was in the balance. The Gamecock sophomore struck first with a service break to go up 3-2 and held off Thomson down the stretch to claim the 6-4 victory for himself and the Garnet and Black.

“Playing for this team, playing for this family, playing for this program is everything for me,” Pinheiro said. “I fought through it, and I found a way to get back into the match. I came back to win the second set with a lot of pride, a lot of heart, and the third set was the same thing. It was my pride of playing for this school that kept me alive in that match and made me win.”

The Gamecocks will be back in action Wed., Feb. 20, when they host No. 39 UNC Wilmington.

#49 South Carolina 4, #34 NC State 3

Doubles (Order of Finish: 1, 3)
1. Dave Thomson/Sean Weber (NCST) def. Chip Cox/Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 8-2
2. Kyle Koch / Harry Menzies (SC) tied Beck Bond/Austin Powell (NCST) 7-7 suspended
3. Robbie Mudge/Simon Norenius (NCST) def. Ben Barnette/Thiago Pinheiro 8-5

Singles (Order of Finish: 1, 5, 2, 6, 3, 4)
1. Tsvetan Mihov (SC) def. Robbie Mudge (NCST) 6-1, 6-3
2. Austin Powell (NCST) def. Chip Cox (SC) 7-6 (5), 6-0
3. Andrew Adams (SC) def. Simon Norenius (NCST) 2-6, 7-5, 6-1
4. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) def. Dave Thomson (NCST) 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4
5. Kyle Koch (SC) def. Sean Weber (NCST) 6-2, 6-2
6. Beck Bond (NCST) def. Harry Menzies (SC) 3-6, 7-5, 6-4