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Sept. 21, 2013

NASHVILLE – South Carolina men’s tennis bowed out of the main draws of singles and doubles at the SEC Fall Classic with narrow defeats Saturday at Vanderbilt’s Currey Tennis Center, but senior Chip Cox advanced to the semifinals of the singles consolation bracket. The Gamecocks’ 26th-ranked doubles tandem of Kyle Koch and Cox battled past the nation’s No. 57 duo but dropped a tiebreak to the nation’s 13th-ranked team in the semis. No. 14 Tsvetan Mihov fell in three sets in the singles quarterfinals, his first loss of the season. In the consolation bracket, Cox advanced to Sunday’s semifinals.

Koch and Cox started the day by extended their winning streak, which dates back to a summer tournament that earned them a spot in the ITA All-American Championships in October, with a methodical 8-5 win over No. 56 Gordon Watson and Elliott Orkin of Florida. The Gamecock duo faced their toughest test of the young season in the semifinals against No. 13 Ryan Lipman and Gonzalez Austin of Vanderbilt. The two tandems were evenly matched and neither could wrest control of the match. Even in the resulting tiebreak, the margin was slim and with the Commodores eventually eking out the 8-7 (6) victory.

In singles, Mihov had an eye on advancing to Sunday’s semifinals after dispatching a pair of ranked opponents on Friday. Taking on Kentucky’s Beck Pennington, the Gamecocks’ All-American dropped his first set of the season, 6-4, but rebounded to win the second 6-3. In third, Pennington proved sharper in the key moments and ended Mihov’s run at the event with a 6-2 victory.

Cox and Pinheiro each won their third-round matches in the consolation bracket. Cox pounced on Arkansas’ Johan den Toom early and won the first set 6-2. The Razorbacks’ freshman lifted his game in the second set, but South Carolina’s senior scored a late service break to advance with a 7-5 victory. Pinheiro match against Vanderbilt’s Suresh Eswaran was playing out similarly with the Gamecocks’ junior taking the first set 6-1 and playing even late in the second. The Commodores’ junior captured the second set 7-5 to send the match to a super-tiebreak, which Pinheiro dominated for the 1-0 (2) victory. The win set up a Gamecock showdown in the quarterfinals, but Pinheiro’s lengthy match yielded a precautionary withdraw to send his teammate into Sunday’s action.

The SEC Fall Classic wraps up on Sunday with singles main draw and consolation semifinals starting at 10:30 a.m. (ET). Cox will take on Florida’s Orkin for the opportunity to face Maxx Lipman of the Gators in the final.

South Carolina Results

Main Draw Quarterfinals
Beck Pennington (UK) def. (14) Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2

Consolation Third Round
Chip Cox (SC) def. Johan den Toom (ARK) 6-2, 7-5
Thiago Pinheiro (SC) def. Suresh Eswaran (VU) 6-1, 5-7, 1-0 (2)
Mike Alford (FL) def. Andrew Schafer (SC) 6-3, 6-4

(26) Koch/Cox (SC) def. (57) Gordon Watson/Elliott Orkin (UF) 8-5

(13) Ryan Lipman/Gonzalez Austin (VU) def. (26) Koch/Cox (SC) 8-7 (6)