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March 21, 2013

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 34 South Carolina continues its road stretch this weekend, traveling to Alabama for a pair of SEC matches. The Gamecocks will take on No. 35 Auburn on Fri., March 22, at 3 p.m. and No. 26 Alabama on Sun., March 24, at 1 p.m.

South Carolina (11-7, 1-3 SEC) dropped a pair of road matches last weekend against two top-10 SEC rivals. Sophomore Kyle Koch went undefeated on the weekend, picking up two wins at the No. 5 spot in singles play as well as taking down two nationally ranked doubles teams with partner Harry Menzies. The Gamecocks started their four-match road swing at then-No. 6 Tennessee where Koch and Menzies defeated the nation’s 61st-ranked doubles team. Koch won his singles match 6-1, 6-4, and Thiago Pinheiro was up a set at the No. 3 spot against a nationally ranked opponent when play was suspended. The Gamecocks then traveled to Athens, Ga., to face off against the then-No. 5 Bulldogs. Koch and Menzies again won their doubles match, this time taking down a duo ranked No. 39 in the nation. Koch and Andrew Adams both fought through two tough sets then won in super-tiebreaks to give South Carolina its points in the 5-2 loss. Koch improved to 10-7 on the season and 3-0 in SEC play. Adams is now 6-4 on the season with a 2-1 record against conference challengers, and the duo of Koch and Menzies lead the team in doubles victories holding a 10-4 record. Senior Tsvetan Mihov remains nationally ranked at No. 106 behind a 10-6 record, and the duo of Mihov and Chip Cox are still the nation’s 50th-ranked doubles team.

“Toughest away weekend in the country [last weekend], playing Nos. 5 and 6 in the country,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “I think we learned a lot about how we measure up against those teams. Coach [Matt] Lucas and I can only say so much to convince our guys that they are better than they think. They have to actually see it for themselves. We started our SEC schedule with the four powerhouses of the conference. Now, going into the next part of the season, I think our guys are excited about what they can do.”

“Kyle’s weekend against those teams showed him and our team that if you do the work, the success is going to come. It’s just a matter of time. Kyle’s dedication to the game of tennis is extraordinary, and it’s what champions have. He works harder than everybody else, and things are starting to come together. The team has seen how hard he works, but the results haven’t been there. Now, he’s the hardest working guy, and he’s the guy that’s undefeated in the SEC right now on our team. It’s confidence building for him, and it shows the team that work does pay off. Kyle’s work is paying off because his mentality and mental strength on the court have grown now, too. It’s been a missing piece for him, and he will start growing at a much faster rate now because of it.”

Auburn is 10-5 on the season and 2-3 in the SEC after falling to then-No. 27 Alabama in a close 4-3 match last weekend. Prior to that, the Tigers picked up two conference road wins defeating, Arkansas 6-1 and LSU 5-2. The Tigers’ top three spots in the singles order are filled by nationally ranked players, led by No. 46 Andreas Mies who is 10-3 at the No. 1 spot. Lukas Oller holds an 11-2 dual match record playing mostly at the No. 3 spot and earning him a ranking of No. 85, and No. 86 Daniel Cochrane is 9-6 in dual matches, generally playing in the second spot in the order. Mies and Cochrane team up to form the nation’s third-ranked doubles team and hold a 10-3 record at the No.1 spot. Also with double-digit wins this season, Dennis Lengsfeld and Lucas Lopasso hold a 12-2 record playing at No. 2 doubles. The Tigers have only lost the doubles point three times, all coming in 4-3 losses against SEC opponents.

The Crimson Tide is 12-5 on the season and 3-2 in SEC play. They will face off against Florida on Fri., March 22, before meeting up with the Gamecocks. Alabama has won its last three matches, defeating nationally ranked conference foes Auburn, LSU and Arkansas. Senior Jarryd Botha and freshman Becker O’Shaughnessey boast national rankings at Nos. 58 and 79, respectively, and both have put up 13-3 marks this season. Nationally ranked pairs hold two of the three doubles positions with Botha and David Vieyra playing at the top of the order and holding a ranking of No. 72. O’Shaughnessey teams up with Daniil Proskura in the No. 2 spot, and the duo have earned a national ranking of No. 75 behind a 6-0 record.

The Gamecocks return to action at Carolina Tennis Center next weekend when they host No. 54 Arkansas on Fri., March 29, at 5 p.m. and No. 48 LSU on Sun., March 31, at 1 p.m.