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March 17, 2013

ATHENS, Ga. – No. 32 South Carolina played tough doubles but struggled to find footing in singles in a 5-2 loss at No. 5 Georgia Sunday afternoon at Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The Gamecocks’ No. 2 tandem of Kyle Koch and Harry Menzies scored its second-straight win over a ranked opponent by winning the last three games of the match. Koch and Andrew Adams scored the singles points for South Carolina, both coming back to win in super-tiebreaks for third sets.

For South Carolina, doubles began well with early breaks in the Nos. 2 and 3 matches, while Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov, ranked 50th in the nation, were on serve against the nation’s fifth-ranked duo in the No. 1 match. While the No. 3 match swing back in the Bulldogs’ favor with KU Singh and Austin Smith closing out an 8-4 win over Ben Barnette and Thiago Pinheiro, Koch and Menzies were seemingly trading service breaks with 39th-ranked Nathan Pasha and Garrett Brasseauz throughout. The Gamecock tandem went ahead 5-4, converting the second of their break points in the game, but, three games later the Bulldogs leveled the match at 6-6. Pasha held his serve for a 6-7 Georgia lead, but after holding serve for a 7-7 tie, the Gamecocks got into Brasseaux’s service game to take an 8-7 lead that they consolidated with a hold to win the match 9-7.

With the doubles now split a 1-1, the point came down to Court 1, where the Bulldogs were up a break, serving at 6-5. Cox/Mihov were fighting to get the break back in that game, going to deuce three times, but Pietrus/Wagland managed to fight off two break points to take a 7-5 lead. The Bulldogs were aggressive in the Gamecocks’ next service game and came up with an 8-5 victory to give Georgia a 1-0 lead heading into singles play.

Georgia stormed out to early leads in all six singles matches, including multiple-break leads in two contests. Mihov battled No. 7 Singh at the top of the order, but could not overcome an early break, losing his first set 6-4 to make it a clean sweep of first sets for the Bulldogs. After wins in the Nos. 6 and 3 matches, Georgia closed out the team victory with a win on Court 4.

The teams agreed to play out the matches beyond the team outcome, opening the door for the comebacks from Adams and Koch. After dropping the first set to 39th-ranked Pasha in the No. 2 match, Adams got a service break in the final game of the second to force the super-tiebreak to decide the match. A miscue from Pasha and a great passing shot from Adams put the Gamecock sophomore up 7-4. Adams held onto the advantage for a 1-0 (6) victory.

On Court 5, Koch’s battle matched Adams’ as he needed a late service break to win his second set 7-5 after falling 6-3 in the first. Koch’s tiebreak, however, was one of surges from both players. The Gamecock sophomore sprinted out to a 5-2 lead, but saw the nation’s 101st-ranked player Pieters level it at 5-5. Koch won three of the next four points to again take a lead at 8-6 only to have his opponent win the next two points and even the tiebreak at 8-8. Koch stayed locked on his comeback, however, winning the next two points, including a winner at the net on match point, to secure the 1-0 (8) victory – his first career win over a nationally ranked player.

South Carolina (11-7, 1-3 SEC) continues its road swing next weekend, traveling to No. 31 Auburn and No. 27 Alabama for Friday and Sunday matches, respectively.

#5 Georgia, #32 South Carolina

Doubles (Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1)
1. (5) Hernus Pietrus/Ben Wagland (UG) def. (50) Chip Cox/Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 8-5
2. Kyle Koch / Harry Menzies (SC) def. (39) Nathan Pasha/Garrett Brasseaux (UG) 9-7
3. KU Singh/Austin Smith (UG) def. Ben Barnette/Thiago Pinheiro (SC) 8-4

Singles (Order of Finish: 6, 3, 2*, 1, 2, 5)
1. (7) KU Singh (UG) (106) def. Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 6-4, 6-2
2. Andrew Adams (SC) def. (39) Nathan Pasha (UG) 3-6, 7-5, 1-0 (6)
3. (71) Ben Wagland (UG) def. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) 6-2, 7-5
4. Austin Smith (UG) def. Chip Cox (SC) 6-4, 6-1
5. Kyle Koch (SC) def. (101) Hernus Pieters (UG) 3-6, 7-5, 1-0 (8)
6. Marco Nunez (UG) def. Harry Menzies (SC) 6-4. 6-0