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March 16, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 48 South Carolina dropped a 4-0 decision to No. 14 Tennessee Sunday afternoon at the USC Fieldhouse. The Gamecocks came up just short of the doubles point and saw the Vols control the momentum of a pair of first-set tiebreaks in the Nos. 2 and 3 singles matches to secure the victory.

“It’s unfortunate we had to play indoors on just three courts today,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “The most successful part of our lineup wasn’t able to get on the court to help with momentum, and Tennessee is a very good indoor team. They showed that today in winning tough first sets to set the tone.”

The Gamecocks’ No. 2 doubles team of Kyle Koch and Andrew Adams established themselves early against Andrew Domsky and Markus Kerner and rolled to an 8-0 victory to give South Carolina an early advantage. The other two matches were on serve until nearly the end of the No. 2 match, but the Vols went up a break at 4-3 in both shortly afterwards. At the top of the lineup, No. 56 Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov got back on serve at 4-4 with the nation’s second-ranked team of Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese on a great service return by Mihov that handcuffed Reese at the net on break point. Just after Tennessee took the No. 3 match, the Vols had Mihov and Cox on the ropes again. Cox rose to the challenge, though, serving from behind and delivering solid play at the net to hold to go up 6-5. Two games later, Mihov trailed in his service game as well, falling behind 15-40. The Gamecock staved off one break point but were scrambling on the second, which Tennessee ended up winning with an overhead. The Vols consolidated the break with a win in the final game for the 8-6 win and the doubles point.

Singles were played on just three courts, due to dangerous conditions on Court 1 in the Fieldhouse. Pinheiro was down a break early to Brandon Fickey in the No. 3 match, but got it back at 4-4. In the No. 2 match, Adams was on serve late in his first set against No. 34 Mikelis Libietis, and the two traded breaks in the ninth and 10th games of the set. Before either of the matches got to their eventual tiebreaks, though, the Vols went up 2-0 with a 6-1, 6-1 win by No. 22 Reese over No. 80 Mihov at the top of the lineup.

Pinheiro went into his tiebreak with Fickey first and took a 3-2 lead when Fickey’s call of his crosscourt backhand was overruled by the umpire. Fickey battled back to a 6-4 advantage, but gave it back on a double fault and a forehand in to the net that tied it up 6-6. Pinheiro mishit a forehand on the next point to go down 6-7, though, and Fickey finished off the set 7-6 (6).

Just as Cox was starting his No. 4 match against Jarryd Chaplin, Adams and Libietis went into a tiebreak as well. There, Adams got out to a 2-0 lead before Libietis found his footing, winning three straight points. Adams evened things at 3-3 with a backhand passing shot up the line only to see Libietis claim the next two points for a 5-3 advantage. In the back-and-forth that characterized the whole set, Adams responded to get back to 5-5 and again to reach 6-6, but a backhand in the net gave Libietis set point, and he converted for the 7-6 (6) victory.

Meanwhile, Cox was trying to single handedly change the momentum, scoring a pair of breaks over Chaplin to go up 3-2 early en route to his 6-4 first-set win. The energy did not spill over to the other courts, however, as both Libietis and Fickey dashed out to 1-4 leads over Adams and Pinheiro, respectively. Both Gamecocks tried to mount a comeback, but the Vols maintained the advantage, winning both sets 6-3 to close out the team victory.

South Carolina (7-9, 0-4 SEC) continues its four-match home stand on Fri., Mar. 21, against No. 45 Alabama at 5 p.m. at Carolina Tennis Center.

#14 Tennessee 4, #48 South Carolina 0
Doubles (Order of Finish: 2, 3, 1)
1. (2) Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (TN) def. (56) Chip Cox/Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 8-6
2. Andrew Adams/Kyle Koch (SC) def. Andrew Domsky/Markus Kerner (TN) 8-0
3. Brandon Fickey/Jarryd Chaplin (TN) def. Thiago Pinheiro/Andrew Schafer (SC) 8-4

Singles (Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3*)
1. (22) Hunter Reese (TN) def. (80) Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 6-1, 6-1
2. (34) Mikelis Libietis (TN) def. Andrew Adams (SC) 7-6 (6), 6-3
3. Brando Fickey (TN) def. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) 7-6 (6), 6-3
4. Chip Cox (SC) led Jarryd Chaplin (TN) 6-4, 0-1 suspended
5. Kyle Koch (SC) vs. Andrew Domsky (TN) Not started
6. (125) Andrew Schafer (SC) vs. Markus Kerner (TN) Not started