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March 15, 2013

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – No. 32 South Carolina put up a fight that belied a 4-1 score, but No. 6 Tennessee closed Friday’s match with a victory. Sophomore Kyle Koch posted the Gamecocks’ point with a commanding win in the No. 5 match after he teamed with senior Harry Menzies to knock off the nation’s 61st-ranked doubles team to open the match.

Koch and Menzies scored the lone win in doubles for the Gamecocks, and did so with a strong close to the match. With both the Nos. 1 and 3 matches going in the Vols’ favor, South Carolina’s No. 2 tandem was on serve through 4-3 against No. 61 John Collins and Edward Jones. The Gamecocks won the next four games to deliver the first doubles blow. It was not enough to yield the point, however, as the Vols held on for the other two wins for a 1-0 lead heading into singles play.

The Gamecocks burst out of the gate in singles, taking leads on three of the six courts while on-serve on two others. Koch and Thiago Pinheiro, playing in the Nos. 5 and 3 matches, respectively, finished out their leads to set the tone early. Koch pushed past Jones 6-1 in the first set, while Pinheiro, playing up a spot in the order at No. 3, closed out No. 115 Brandon Fickey 6-3.

At the same time, the Vols claimed the first sets in the Nos. 4 and 6 matches. No. 6 Mikelis Libietis had shaken off his early 3-0 deficit to No. 106 Tsvetan Mihov in the No. 1 match to get back on serve at 4-3, and No. 29 Hunter Reese was up a break on Andrew Adams at 5-4 in the No. 2 contest. Reese closed with a 6-4 first-set win to put the Vols up a set on three of the six courts, but Mihov was in the process of taking Libietis to a tiebreak to setting their first set.

Cox and Koch were on-serve in their matches, but Adams was down an early break when Libietis took the tiebreak over Mihov 7-6 (2). Collins made it a 2-0 Tennessee advantage with his win in the No. 6 match around that time, making each point more crucial for the Gamecocks. Cox and Jarryd Chaplin were locked into a second set that would eventually get to a tiebreak as well, which Chaplin won just as Koch began a two-game streak that would deliver his second set, 6-4, over Jones to make it a 3-1 match.

With Mihov and Libietis matching service games early in the second set, Adams struggled to shake off the slow start to his second set, falling to Reese 6-1 to clinch the match for the Vols. The remaining matches – Mihov and Pinheiro – were suspended with the team decision decided.

South Carolina continues its tough road weekend, traveling to No. 5 Georgia for a 1 p.m. match on Sun., March 17.

#6 Tennessee 4, #32 South Carolina 1

Doubles (Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3)
1. (17) Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) def. (50) Chip Cox/Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 8-4
2. Kyle Koch / Harry Menzies (SC) def. (61) John Collins/Edwards Jones (UT) 8-3
3. Jarryd Chaplin/Brandon Fickey (UT) def. Ben Barnette/Thiago Pinheiro (SC) 8-4

Singles (Order of Finish: 6, 4, 5, 2*)
1. (6) Mikelis Libietis (UT) led (106) Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 7-6 (2), 2-2 suspended
2. (29) Hunter Reese (UT) def. Andrew Adams (SC) 6-4, 6-1
3. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) led (115) Brandon Fickey (UT) 6-3, 3-5 suspended
4. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) def. Chip Cox (SC) 6-1, 7-6
5. Kyle Koch (SC) def. Edward Jones (UT) 6-1, 6-4
6. John Collins (UT) def. Harry Menzies (SC) 6-2, 6-2

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