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Sept. 27, 2013

COLUMBIA, S.C. – University of South Carolina men’s tennis travels to Tulsa, Okla., to begin play in the 2013 Saint Francis Health System ITA Men’s All-American Championships. Senior Tsvetan Mihov earned a spot in the main draw, which begins on Thu., Oct. 3, while senior Chip Cox and juniors Kyle Koch and Thiago Pinheiro will begin the qualifying rounds on Mon., Sept. 30. Junior Ben Barnette and freshmen Andrew Schafer and Sam Swank kick off the action on pre-qualifying on Sat., Sept. 28. The Gamecocks’ two nationally ranked doubles teams will participate in the event as well. All matches will be played at the University of Tulsa’s Michael D. Case Tennis Center.

By virtue of his No. 14 singles national ranking, Mihov earned a spot in the tournament’s main draw, making him the first Gamecock to open play in the event’s main draw since Tom Eklund in 2005. South Carolina’s top doubles team of Koch and Cox is ranked No. 26 in the nation after winning the ITA National Collegiate Summer Championships in August and will be the program’s first entry in the event’s doubles main draw since a pair of tandems from the 1999-2000 team earned their spots.

With Cox, Koch and Pinheiro waiting for their singles qualifying draws, Barnette, Schafer and Swank will spend the weekend battling through the pre-qualifying bracket to join them in the next step toward the main draw. Barnette, who picked up a pair of wins last weekend at the SEC Fall Classic, drew a first-round bye and will take on either Fabian Brand (Texas-San Antonio) or Vasili Caripi (Oklahoma State) on Saturday afternoon. After closing the SEC Fall Classic with a three-set win over the nation’s 39th-ranked player, Schafer opens his bid for a long stay in Tulsa against Morgan State’s Evan Ward. Swank faces Middle Tennessee’s Victor Cornea to open the tournament. With wins in their first matches, both Schafer and Swank would advance to play again Saturday afternoon.

Mihov and Pinheiro will play in the qualifying rounds of doubles, beginning Monday. The details of that bracket have not been released.

Following the completing of pre-qualifying and qualifying matches on Wed., Oct. 2, a field of 64 single players and 32 doubles teams will then compete in the main draw on Oct. 3.