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March 14, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 48 South Carolina dropped a 4-1 decision to No. 16 Georgia Friday night at Carolina Tennis Center in a match whose score belied how much pressure the Gamecocks put on the Bulldogs, especially down the stretch. Georgia escaped with the doubles point on a tiebreak in the final match on court, and senior Chip Cox stretched out his No. 4 singles match four extra games before falling in the third set. Junior Kyle Koch posted the lone singles victory in the No. 5 spot in the order after teaming with Andrew Adams for a doubles win as well.

Doubles set the tone for the match as the two matches that went Georgia’s way went down to the wire. South Carolina opened with an 8-5 win by Koch and Adams over Nathan Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux in the No. 2 match after the Gamecock duo went up a break early and held on for the win. At the top of the order, the battle of ranked tandems came down to the end of the match as No. 21 Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland won three of the last four games to close out No. 56 Cox and Tsvetan Mihov 8-5. The point would be determined by the No. 3 contest, in which Thiago Pinheiro and Andrew Schafer mounted a late comeback from a break down at 4-7. The duo won the next three games to force a tiebreak. Georgia’s duo of Eric Diaz and Austin Smith sprinted out to a 5-2 lead, but allowed the Gamecocks back in by dropping both their service points. Back on serve at 5-4, the Bulldogs surged for the 8-7 (4) win to put Georgia up 1-0 in the team match.

Singles got off to an even start with each team leading in three first sets. For the Gamecocks, Pinheiro, Cox and Koch were all up a break early on Courts 3, 4 and 5, respectively. Georgia was cruising on the other three, though as No. 25 Pasha took his first set 6-1 from No. 88 Mihov at the top of the order and Nick Wood claimed his first over No. 125 Schafer 6-2 at the bottom of the lineup.

Koch struck first for the Gamecocks, winning his first set over Pieters 6-3. Both Cox and Pinheiro saw their opponents battle back, though, with No. 79 Brasseaux winning five straight games to claim his first set over Cox 6-4. By the time Pinheiro and No. 13 Austin Smith went into their first-set tiebreak, the Bulldogs were up 2-0 in the team scoring as Pasha closed out Mihov 6-1, 6-1, and Adams was down a set to No. 87 Wagland, falling 6-3 in the first.

Pinheiro salvaged the set forcing Smith into a series of mistakes en route to a 7-6 (4) victory that helped the Gamecocks gain momentum. Adams went up a break in his second set, and Cox was battling in his. Still, Georgia drew within a point of the match with Wood’s 6-2, 6-2 win over Schafer on Court 6. The Gamecocks battled on, though, with Koch surging ahead of Pieters on Court 4 en route to his 6-3, 6-4 victory that made it a 3-1 Georgia advantage.

Cox continued the momentum, winning his second set over Brasseaux 6-4 to force a third, but he fell behind 3-0 in it early. On the next court, Adams was locked in a war with Wagland as the two pushed each other to deuce game-in and game-out. After Adams held in an extended game to get to 4-5, he finally broke through in the next game to go up 5-5. At the same time, Pinheiro went up a break on Smith at 5-3.

Adams went on to win the next two games as well, closing out his second set 7-5 with another service break, and Cox was shaking off his 1-5 deficit, winning a pair of games to hold off the Bulldogs. Smith was getting the better of Pinheiro late in their second set, though, taking three straight games to go up 6-5 and serve for the set. It would not come to that, however, as Brasseaux finally ended Cox’s rally, winning the final set 6-3 and delivering the team win for Georgia.

South Carolina is back in action at Carolina Tennis Center on Sun., Mar. 16, at 1 p.m. against No. 14 Tennessee.

#16 Georgia 4, #48 South Carolina 1

Doubles (Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3)
1. (21) Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland (UGA) def. (56) Chip Cox/Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 8-5
2. Andrew Adams/Kyle Koch (SC) def. Nathan Pasha/Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) 8-5
3. Eric Diaz/Austin Smith (UGA) def. Thiago Pinheiro/Andrew Schafer (SC) 8-7 (4)

Singles (Order of Finish: 1, 6, 5, 4*)
1. (25) Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. (88) Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 6-1, 6-1
2. Andrew Adams (SC) tied (87) Ben Wagland (UGA) 3-6, 7-5 suspended
3. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) led (13) Austin Smith (UGA) 7-6 (4), 5-6 suspended
4. (79) Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) def. Chip Cox (SC) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
5. Kyle Koch (SC) def. Hernus Pieters (UGA) 6-3, 6-4
6. Nick Wood (UGA) def. (125) Andrew Schafer (SC) 6-2, 6-2