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April 4, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 40 South Carolina rallied from a 2-0 deficit to power past No. 50 Ole Miss 4-2 Friday night at Carolina Tennis Center. The Gamecocks (12-10, 4-5 SEC) got huge wins at the top of the lineup, including Andrew Adams’ straight-set victory over the No. 16 player in the nation, the highest ranked win of his career. Senior Tsvetan Mihov closed out a three-set victory to set up freshman Andrew Schafer for the deciding point, which he delivered in dominating fashion.

“After not playing our best doubles point, it is a great accomplishment to pull out four singles wins against a tough Ole Miss team,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “I’m extremely pleased with every player’s resilience because we didn’t start off singles great either. The guys’ ability not to panic shows that the belief that we are a great team is coming around, and we’re playing good tennis right now.”

Ole Miss established early leads at the top and bottom of the doubles lineup, and the Chip Cox/Mihov lead in the No. 2 match became irrelevant as the Rebels put up the first point of the match. Ole Miss went up an early break in three of the six singles matches as well, but Mihov’s overpowering of No. 102 William Kallberg in the No. 2 match began to spread to the other courts.

As No. 88 Mihov closed out Kallberg 6-1 in the first set, Adams began his rally from a 2-0 deficit against No. 16 Nik Scholtz at the top of the lineup. The Gamecock junior won four straight games, including a pair of service breaks behind patient rallies that seemed to frustrate Scholtz. On Court 4 Thiago Pinheiro was also mounting a comeback against Johan Backstrom, turning a 1-4 hole into a 5-5 set just after Adams posted a 6-3 first-set win over Scholtz.

The momentum was fully behind the Gamecocks when Schafer won five straight games to rally from 1-3 to a 6-3 win over Ricardo Jorge in the No. 6 match. Kyle Koch and Vinod Gowda launched their tiebreak in the No. 5 match just as Pinheiro broke Backstrom to go up 6-5 and serve for the first set. While Koch’s power game dispatched Gowda 7-6 (0) in the tiebreak, Backstrom returned the service break to send the No. 4 match into a tiebreak as well.

The Gamecocks had won four of the five first sets decided to that point, but the Rebels were looking to rally. Pinheiro and Backstrom were locked in an emotional, marathon tiebreak that saw five ties and five set points erased. Before that battle was decided, Kallberg had forced a third set with Mihov, Stefan Lindmark made it a 2-0 Ole Miss lead with his 6-2, 6-2 win over Cox in the No. 3 match, and all other second sets were on serve. With Pinheiro and Backstrom’s tiebreak tied at 6-6, the Rebels’ senior proceeded to set up three match points, all of which Pinheiro fought off while unable to convert on two of his own at 9-8 and 10-9. Trailing 10-11 and serving, Pinheiro won three straight points to finally post the 7-6 (11) victory.

Adams compounded the impact of Pinheiro’s win for the Gamecocks, going up a break on Scholtz at 4-2 the top of the lineup just ahead of the tiebreak decision in Pinheiro’s favor. On the cusp of the best win of his career, Adams shook off the nerves that saw Scholtz erase four match points on the Gamecock junior’s serve to force his Rebel counterpart into yet another long rally that saw Scholtz’s forehand to sail long and give Adams the 6-3, 6-2 victory.

With the team deficit cut to 2-1, the Gamecocks still had a battle on their hands. Jorge got a late break to steal the second set from Schafer 6-4 and the Nos. 2 and 5 matches were on serve late in their sets. Koch was the first to surge ahead, breaking Gowda to go up 5-4 in his second set then closed out the Rebel freshman with an overpowering service game for a 7-6 (0), 6-4 win that knotted the team score a 2-2.

Schafer opened his third set with Jorge with a service break and kept his foot on the gas, leading 4-0 by the time Mihov and Kallberg took their No. 2 match into a tiebreak. The Gamecocks’ veteran used well-placed serves and excellent defense to open a 5-2 lead in the tiebreak, which he would win on Kallberg’s double fault for a 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (3) victory that brought the Gamecocks within a point of the win. With a 5-0 lead, Schafer was serving for the match, but saw Jorge pick up the break. The freshman let him get no closer, however, winning the next game to clinch the team victory with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 win.

“It was a great day all around in singles,” Goffi said. “Andrew [Adams] is anchoring us at No. 1, stepping up and doing an unbelievable job there. Tsvetan [Mihov] is finding his game again and competing extremely hard, which gives the whole team confidence going forward. The set that won us the match, though, was Thiago’s [Pinheiro] in the No. 4 match. If he loses that first set, the whole complexion of the match changes. But, he saved all those set points to keep the momentum on our side, and that was truly the key to winning.”

The Gamecocks will play their final home match of the season on Sun., Apr. 16, taking on No. 17 Mississippi State at noon. South Carolina will honors its two seniors – Cox and Mihov – between doubles and singles.

#40 South Carolina 4, #50 Ole Miss 2

Doubles (Order of Finish: 1, 3)
1. (75) Wiliams Kallberg/Stefan Lindmark (OM) def. Andrew Adams/Kyle Koch (SC) 8-6
2. Chip Cox/Tsvetan Mihov (SC) led Nik Scholtz/Ricardo Jorge (OM) 7-5 suspended
3. Johan Backstrom/Joe Rogers (OM) def. Thiago Pinheiro/Sam Swank (SC) 8-4

Singles (Order of Finish: 3, 1, 5, 2, 6*)
1. Andrew Adams (SC) def. (16) Nik Scholtz (OM) 6-3, 6-2
2. (88) Tsvetan Mihov (SC) def. (102) William Kallberg (OM) 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (3)
3. Stefan Lindmark (OM) def. Chip Cox (SC) 6-2, 6-2
4. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) led Johan Backstrom (OM) 7-6 (11), 4-4 suspended
5. Kyle Koch (SC) def. Vinod Gowda (OM) 7-6 (0), 6-4
6. Andrew Schafer (SC) def. Ricardo Jorge (OM) 6-3, 4-6, 6-1