South Carolina Defeats Alabama, 4-3
March 21, 2014
Columbia, S.C. –
No. 48 South Carolina (8-9, 1-4 SEC) men’s tennis team defeated No. 42 Alabama (9-10, 2-4 SEC) in its Friday night matchup. Senior Chip Cox won the game-deciding point in a hard fought three-set contest to claim the Gamecocks’ first conference win of the season.
“Having our senior, Chip Cox, come through with a win like he did is what our team needed,” said South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi. “He was on cruise control and that’s a hard situation to be in, knowing that your teammate on the No. 1 court is going to go down and to keep the focus like he did was just unbelievable. It’s the best I’ve seen him stay composed in his entire career and we needed that at this point in the season. A win feels great, especially in that fashion.”
In a exciting match-winning victory, Cox and Alabama’s Sean Donohue battled every step of the way. In the first set, Cox gained a 4-2 advantage, but Donohue’s resilience would not relinquish. Donohue rallied to tie the match at 5-5 and was able to win the first set 7-5. Despite Donohue’s comeback in the first set, Cox quickly jumped ahead in the second to claim a 4-0 lead and went on to win the set 6-3, forcing a third. Donohue was unable to gain enough traction to stop Cox’s momentum from flowing as he sealed the Gamecocks’ first SEC victory.
To begin the match the No. 2 doubles spot, Andrew Adams and Kyle Koch earned the Gamecocks’ sole doubles win in a high-energy match against Donohue and Stuart Kenyon. The pair capitalized on Alabama’s faulty serves with strategic ball placement on their returns, landing just out of reach. Adams and Koch’s play at the net helped propel them to a commanding 8-3 win.
Meanwhile, on court two in the No. 1 doubles position, Tsvetan Mihov and Chip Cox kept in stride with Adams and Koch until the Crimson Tide’s No. 62 doubles duo of Becker O’Shaughnessey and Daniil Proskura broke their serve. The South Carolina pair struggled to return play, with the ball landing just out of reach. Mihov and Cox could not find a way to outlast Alabama’s No. 1 team.
With the doubles point hanging in the balance, Thiago Pinheiro and Sam Swank were on par with Hayes Brewer and Andrew Goodwin, never breaking each other’s serve during match play. Ultimately, the back and forth style of play between the evenly matched opponents led to a tiebreak. In the tiebreak, the Crimson Tide jumped out to a 3-1 lead and the Gamecocks could not recover. Alabama claimed the doubles point and the lead with an 8-7 (2) victory.
On court 2, No. 80 Mihov could not find an answer to No. 83 O’Shaughnessey. In the first set, Mihov quickly succumbed to a 6-2 loss. In the second set, O’Shaughnessey cruised to a 3-0 lead, however, the Gamecock senior would not go down without a fight. Mihov clawed his way back into the match to tie the set at three. However, Mihov’s efforts could not withstand the quick tempo of the sophomore’s match play. Alabama therein claimed a 2-0 lead.
South Carolina junior Koch had a strong showing in the No. 5 spot against Alabama’s Goodwin. Koch broke Goodwin’s serve early in the first set to give him a 4-2 advantage. The momentum carried throughout the entire set as Koch claimed a 6-2 win. In the second set, Koch continued with his aggressive play, fighting tooth and nail for every game point. Koch went on to give the Gamecocks their first point of the match, cutting into the Crimson Tide’s lead, 2-1.
No. 125 freshman Andrew Schafer quickly followed suit, tying the match at 2-all. The Hilton Head, S.C., native dominated the first set with a quick and easy 6-1 win. In the second set, he continued with his success having a 5-2 lead. However, his challenger Brewer battled back into the match but it was too little too late and Schafer clinched the point, igniting the Gamecocks’ morale.
Pinheiro and Kenyon were tied at 4-4 in their first set, but Pinheiro’s emotional play carried over to establish a 6-4 win. In the second set, the two continued to challenge each other for each and every game. Pinheiro gave the Gamecocks their first lead of the day with a 3-2 advantage over the Tide. Adams tested No. 21 in the nation Proskura in their first set in the No. 1 spot with a 6-3 win. However, Proskura was able to fend off Adams’ threat in the second to win 6-2 to force a third and final set. In the third, Proskura came out on fire clinching the point and forcing the No. 6 court to be the deciding factor.
The Gamecocks resume play Sun., March 23 at the Carolina Tennis Center at noon against No. 30 Auburn.