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March 7, 2013

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 34 South Carolina continues conference play, hosting No. 29 Florida on Fri., March 8, at 5 p.m. at Carolina Tennis Center. The Gators are the sixth-straight top-40 opponent of the season, but the Gamecocks are riding the momentum of last weekend’s first top-20 victory since 2009. Parking in the Athletics Village Garage on Heyward Street and admission to the tennis match are free.

South Carolina (10-5, 0-1 SEC) split a pair of matches last weekend upsetting in-state rival then-No. 18 Clemson 4-3 on Sunday after falling to then-No. 11 Texas A&M 4-1. The duo of Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov are still nationally ranked at No. 33 and improved to 7-3 on the season after clinching the doubles point for the Gamecocks in a hard-fought match against the Tigers. Mihov also remains No. 105 in singles and picked up the point for the Gamecocks against the Aggies, defeating his opponent 6-4, 6-3. Kyle Koch and Harry Menzies are now 8-3 on the season after a powerful performance at No. 2 doubles, taking down their Tiger opponent 8-1. Koch also clinched the victory for South Carolina with a 6-3, 7-5 victory at No. 5 singles.

“I’m feeling good with where we are right now,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “I think coming off the Clemson win, we’re not trying to look at it like it was Clemson but that it was a top-20 team and that’s a good win for this program. Moving forward to the Florida match, Florida has always been top 10 and they’ve been top five most years, so it’s a big match for us. I think they’re a little under ranked at 29. It’s going to a tricky match for us, but we’ve got them at home and I think that this team thinks that they’re good enough now. It’s another proving ground to see how good we are. I think Florida is around a top 10-15 team this year, so that’s kind of what we’re looking at it as, more of a mirror to see where we are as a team right now.”

Florida is 7-4 on the season and 1-0 in the SEC after defeating then-No.11 Texas A&M 4-3 last week. The win snapped a four-match skid for the Gators, who advanced to the ITA National Indoors with a pair of wins in their ITA Kickoff Weekend event. In his first season, head coach Bryan Shelton has a veteran squad with five upperclassmen among the seven returners from last year’s team that finished the season ranked 12th in the nation after advancing into the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Two of those experienced Gators play at the top of the singles order and have earned national rankings. Senior Bob van Overbeek is No. 104 in the nation with a 14-12 overall record this season. He has struggled at the top of the singles lineup, going just 1-6 in the position. Junior Florent Diep holds down the second spot in the lineup with a No. 62 national ranking and a 21-11 overall record, including a 5-5 mark in dual-match action. Florida has gotten a bulk of their point production from the bottom of the lineup as the Nos. 4-6 spots have a combined 22-6 record, including 3-0 in SEC action.

After Friday’s outing, the Gamecocks face their first SEC road matches of the season, taking on a pair of top-10 opponents to open a four-match road swing. Next weekend’s trip starts at No. 10 Tennessee on Fri., March 15, at 2 p.m. before continuing at No. 7 Georgia on Sun., March 17, at 1 p.m.