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Feb. 23, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 31 South Carolina (7-4) battled No. 44 San Diego (3-3) for every point in a hard fought match, escaping with a 4-3 victory. After dropping the doubles point, the Gamecocks had to hold off the Toreros down the stretch. As the last player on court in a tied match, freshman Andrew Schafer delivered in the clutch, winning his third set to deliver the team win.

“This weekend (of matches) was great; everything about it was great,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “San Diego was hungry to beat us, and they brought everything they had. We need more matches like this to get us where we need to be. We’ve been focusing on putting together an entire match, and I think we accomplished that. Having 12 great singles points (Friday and Sunday) is what we set as our goal this week, and that’s what we accomplished. Our guys did such a great job, and they needed that kind of validation from a win to back up all the good stuff they’ve been doing this last week.”

With the match tied 3-3, Schafer went into the third set with the Toreros’ Aaron Addison in the No. 6 spot in the order. The match began with Addison taking an early 3-0 lead in the first set, but No. 88 Schafer never backed down, leveling the set at 3-all before winning three of the next four games to take the set 6-4. The Hilton Head Island, S.C., native took an early 3-1 lead in the second set, but a resilient Addison would not go down without a fight, battling back to force a tiebreak, which he claimed 7-6 (3). In the third set, both freshmen had a high-energy performance. Shaking off the exhaustion from the previous two sets, both players fought tooth and nail, but the Gamecocks’ Schafer prevailed 6-3 win to give South Carolina its seventh win of the season.

“It was awesome,” Schafer said after the match. “There is nothing to compare this feeling to. I’m 19, and I’ve never felt an emotion like that. I’m just happy that I’m doing it for this school, the University of South Carolina. As they say, `The name on the front of the jersey is more important than the one on the back.’ That’s says it all. I was just one of the four points, so I give a lot of credit to my other three teammates. We all just competed, and we took care of our courts.”

After doubles went to San Diego, despite the duo of Chip Cox and Kyle Koch scoring an 8-6 win over No. 48 Clarke Spinosa and Filip Vittek, its second ranked opponent of the weekend, the Gamecocks looked to assert themselves early in singles play.

Cox came out in a commanding fashion winning both his sets 6-4, 6-4 against Ciaran Fitzgerald in the No. 5 spot to level the match at 1-all. Adding onto Cox’s momentum, No. 75 Tsvetan Mihov, battled past San Diego’s No. 78 Clarke Spinosa 6-3, 7-5 at the top of the singles lineup to give the Gamecocks a 2-1 lead.

Koch rallied back from a slow start in his first set against Romain Kalaydijan in the first set, but the Toreros’ No. 4 player eked out a 6-4 victory. The second set mirrored the first with the two tied at 5-5 late. Again Kalaydijan was able to deliver on the big points, winning the next two games to close out the match 7-5 and even the team score at 2-2.

In the No. 2 match, Thiago Pinheiro played with his usual intensity, battling with Uros Petronijevic for each point. With the first set tied at 4-4, Petronijevic took the next two games to win the set 6-4. In their second set, Pinheiro came out on fire, holding a 4-2 lead over his opponent. However, Petronijevic would not surrender, taking the next four games to win the set 6-4 to put San Diego up 3-2.

Coming back from hip surgery last summer, junior Andrew Adams played a physical match against the Toreros’ Ciaran Fitzgerald, fighting point for point in the No. 3 singles spot. Adams made quick work of his first set with a 6-3 lead, but, in the second set, Fitzgerald fought back from an early deficit to even the score 4-all. Adams broke serve to gain a 5-4 lead and won 6-4 to set the stage for Schafer’s heroics on Court 6.

South Carolina opens SEC play at No. 8 Texas A&M on Sun., Mar. 2, at 1 p.m. (ET) in College Station, Texas, which kicks off a three-match road stretch. The Gamecocks are not back at Carolina Tennis Center until they host No. 12 Georgia on Fri., March 14, at 5 p.m.

#31 South Carolina 4, #44 San Diego 3

Doubles (Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3*)
1. Chip Cox/Kyle Koch (SC) def. (48) Clarke Spinosa/Filip Vittek (USD) 8-6
2. Romain Kalaydijan/Uros Petronijevic (USD) def. (39) Tsvetan Mihov/Thiago Pinheiro (SC) 8-5
3. Ciaran Fitzgerald/Andrew Raphaelson (USD) def. Andrew Adams/Sam Swank (SC) 8-5

Singles (Order of Finish: 5, 1, 4, 2, 3, 6* )
1. (75) Tsvetan Mihov (SC) def. (78) Clarke Spinosa (USD) 6-3, 7-5
2. Uros Petronijevic (USD) def. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) 6-4, 6-4
3. Andrew Adams (SC) def. Filip Vittek (USD) 6-3, 6-4
4. Romain Kalaydijan (USD) def. Kyle Koch (SC) 6-4, 7-5
5. Chip Cox (SC) def. Ciaran Fitzgerald (USD) 6-4, 6-4
6. (88) Andrew Schafer (SC) def. Aaron Addison (USD) 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3