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Feb. 21, 2014

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 31 South Carolina picked up a 6-1 win over No. 56 USF Friday afternoon at Carolina Tennis Center as the Gamecocks (6-4) delivered points when they mattered most across the board. Senior Chip Cox clinched the team win after senior Tsvetan Mihov and Andrew Adams added onto the doubles-point win.

“The last two weeks of practice have been great with each guy working on a lot of different things, and it showed today,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “We came out focusing on one thing at a time – put three solid doubles teams out there to have a good doubles point, then have six guys playing singles who were going to fight until the end and take care of their court. We haven’t done a great job this year of playing strong as individuals in a team environment. We’ve been relying on the team too much, but today we did a much better job of that.”

The Gamecocks top doubles team of Cox and Kyle Koch wasted little time establishing themselves against the nation’s 22nd-ranked tandem from USF, Oliver Pramming and Ignacio Gonzalez, jumping out to a 3-0 lead behind a pair of service breaks. In the second of them, Cox set up break point with a pair of great plays at the net then closed it out with a backhand service return up the line for a clean winner. Pramming and Gonzalez looked to get one of the breaks back late, stretching Koch’s service game to a pair of deuce points, but an ace ended the threat, and the Gamecocks broke at love behind great service returns in an 8-3 victory. After dropping the No. 2 doubles contest, the Gamecocks looked to the newly formed tandem of Adams and freshman Sam Swank against USF’s Paul Polarczyk and Vadym Kalyuzhnyy. The Gamecocks were up a break after a long game six gave them a 4-2 lead, which they carried into the final game. Swank was serving and delivered on every challenge the Bulls presented, punctuating the game with a service winner on match point for an 8-5 victory.

Singles got off to a more even start, except for Adams who barreled past No. 99 Sasha Gozun 6-0 in his first set. As he closed out his set, Cox had gone up a break on Finn Meinecke in the No. 5 match, Thiago Pinheiro dropped his first set to No. 64 Roberto Cid in the No. 2 spot, and Mihov was down a break at 2-3 against Oliver Pramming at the top of the lineup.

The Gamecocks often take the cues of their leaders, and Mihov rose to the challenge as Koch and No. 88 Andrew Schafer were battling on Courts 4 and 6. South Carolina’s senior, ranked No. 75 in the nation, won four of the next five games against Pramming, winning the set one a lengthy point that eventually saw Pramming sail a forehand long for a 6-4 Mihov victory. Cox followed shortly after with a 6-3 first-set win over Meinecke to give the Gamecocks three first-set wins with two ongoing. Schafer and Gonzalez were both struggling to hold serve in their first set with the Gamecocks’ 88th-ranked freshman coming up just short at 6-4. Koch and Kalyuzhnyy each broke once early in a set that was then destined to go to a tiebreak, which Koch powered through 7-6 (2).

Mihov’s first-set rally appeared to have broken Pramming’s spirit, and the Bulgarian doubled the Gamecocks’ lead to 2-0 with a decisive 6-1 second-set victory. Adams was not long behind with a 6-2 second set over Gozun to make it 3-0 in South Carolina’s favor. Pinheiro was battling Cid in the No. 2 spot in the order, but could not rally past him, falling 6-4 in the second set to put the Bulls on the board.

Cox has sprinted out to a 5-1 lead in his second set, but Meinecke has one last surge left with a break as the Gamecocks’ senior was serving for the match to make it 5-3. Cox returned the favor in the next game, punctuating his command of his opponent on match point with a beautifully placed cross-court forehand on the run that sent Meinecke sprawling to his right for a ball that was just out of reach, for a 6-3 victory that clinched the team win for the Gamecocks.

After Schafer forced a third set with Gonzalez with an efficient 6-1 second set, Koch and Kalyuzhnyy were again locked in a battle in their second set. Koch got an early break only to see Kalyuzhnyy take it back in the next game. The Gamecock junior fell behind 4-0 in the tiebreak, but saw a Kalyuzhnyy double fault as a rallying point for a comeback that saw him win the set 7-6 (6) on a service winner. Schafer later closed out Gonzalez 6-3 in the third set for the final tally of the Gamecocks’ win.

“A lot of good things happened for our team today,” Goffi said. “Tsvetan Mihov was down in his first set, then lost just two games the rest of the way. That’s the player we know, and we need to see more of that. Andrew Adams went out and didn’t just get a ranked win, he dominated that match. Kyle Koch has been playing good tennis, but was coming up just short. It was good to see him get on the board today against a good player. With Mihov and Adams, especially, firing the way they are, that gives our team confidence going forward.”

South Carolina is back in action on Sun., Feb. 23, hosting San Diego at 11 a.m. at Carolina Tennis Center.

#31 South Carolina 6, #56 USF 1

Doubles (Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3*)
1. Chip Cox/Kyle Koch (SC) def. (22) Oliver Pramming/Ignacio Gonzalez (USF) 8-3
2. Roberto Cid/Sasha Gozun (USF) def. (39) Tsvetan Mihov/Thiago Pinheiro (SC) 8-4
3. Sam Swank/Andrew Adams (SC) def. Paul Polarczyk/Vadym Kalyuzhnyy (USF) 8-5

Singles (Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2, 5*, 4, 6)
1. (75) Tsvetan Mihov (SC) def. Oliver Pramming (USF) 6-4, 6-1
2. (64) Roberto Cid (USF) def. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) 6-2, 6-4
3. Andrew Adams (SC) def. (99) Sasha Gozun (USF) 6-0, 6-2
4. Kyle Koch (SC) def. Vadym Kalyuzhnyy (USF) 7-6 (2), 7-6 (6)
5. Chip Cox (SC) def. Finn Meinecke (USF) 6-3, 6-3
6. (88) Andrew Schafer (SC) def. Ignacio Gonzalez (USF) 4-6, 6-1, 6-3