Gamecocks Hold Off No. 27 Vanderbilt 4-1
April 13, 2014
NASHVILLE – No. 35 South Carolina took an early lead with commanding doubles play then held off a late singles charge in a 4-1 win over No. 27 Vanderbilt at Currey Tennis Center Sunday afternoon. The Gamecocks (14-12, 5-7 SEC) closed the regular season winning seven of their last 10 matches behind gutsy singles play that continued in the season finale. Wins at the top of both the doubles and singles lineups came against top-20 opponents, including the clinching singles point by No. 75 Andrew Adams, who halted a comeback from No. 19 Gonzales Austin.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my team right now,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “We kicked and scrapped our way through that match with unwavering determination. These guys are true warriors, and we’ve been waiting to see this kind of tenacity from them all year. Today, with our backs against the wall, we brought it.”
South Carolina claimed the doubles point for the first time in four matches thanks to early aggression from its top two teams. Vanderbilt built an early lead in the No. 3 match, but Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov wasted little time jumping out to a 3-0 lead on the nation’s third-ranked tandem of Austin and Ryan Lipman at the top of the lineup. The Gamecock tandem never let up, stretching their advantage to 6-1 en route to a commanding 8-3 victory. The No. 2 match was the last on court, but Adams and Kyle Koch had already established a two-break lead on Ryan Smith and Suresh Eswaran and went on to win 8-4.
Singles action opened with leads split across the six courts. Adams carried his momentum from doubles to establish a 3-0 lead on No. 19 Austin at the top of the order, while Thiago Pinheiro won his first four games against Kris Yee in the No. 3 match and Koch needed little time to post a 6-0 first-set win over Rhys Johnson in the No. 5 contest. Still, the Commodores were up a break on the other three courts.
No. 60 Lipman delivered the first set-one win for Vanderbilt, topping No. 78 Mihov 6-2, and two more Commodores followed with 6-3 wins in the Nos. 4 and 6 matches. Austin had gotten back on serve with Adams, and Johnson had responded to Koch’s 3-0 start to the second set by winning three straight games himself.
Adams was the first to counter the Vanderbilt surge, rebuffing Austin’s run with a late service break to close out the set 7-5. Pinheiro wrapped up his first set, 6-3, over Yee, and the momentum continued to shift back to the Gamecocks. Cox opened his second set against Jeffrey Offerdahl with three straight games, and Adams kept his foot on the gas with a 3-0 start in his second set as well.
Lipman put the Commodores on the board with his 6-2, 6-2 win over Mihov in the No. 2 match, but the Gamecocks would not be deterred. After falling behind, Koch got back on track against Offerdahl, ending his skid with a three-game win streak to get back to a 6-5 lead. A few minutes later, Andrew Schafer joined with a break to go up 4-2 on Eswaran in the second set. Johnson forced a tiebreak with Koch, but the Gamecock junior was not ready to end his win streak and stretched it to nine with a 7-6 (5) victory that made it a 2-1 South Carolina lead.
The Commodores would not yield, though, with Offerdahl forcing a third set with Cox and Yee going up a break on Pinheiro in the No. 3 match. Austin was also rallying from his 3-0 deficit to Adams, leveling the match at 3-3 just after Schafer took the No. 6 match into a third set.
Playing the last regular-season match of his Gamecock career, Cox pounced on the junior Offerdahl, establishing a 3-0 lead in the third set. Yee had just forced Pinheiro into a third set, and Eswaran was up a break on Schafer in their third. But the Gamecocks were holding strong. Cox put the pressure on with a quick 6-0 third-set dismissal off Offerdahl to bring the Gamecocks within a point of the victory.
As Cox finished his match, Adams and Austin were knotted at 4-4 with the Commodores were up a break in the other two third sets, putting all the pressure on the Nos. 1 players to determine the outcome – sooner or later. Growing by leaps and bounds since taking over the top spot for the Gamecocks midway through the SEC season, Adams turned those lessons and confidence into wins in the next two games to finish off Austin 7-5, 6-4 to deliver the team victory and his second win over a top-20 opponent.
The Gamecocks now await their seeding in the SEC Tournament, which begins in Nashville on Wed., Apr. 16. South Carolina will begin play on Thu., Apr. 17, at a time to be determined by their seeding, which will be released later today.
#35 South Carolina 4, #27 Vanderbilt 1
Doubles (Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2*)
1. Chip Cox/Tsvetan Mihov (SC) def. (3) Gonzales Austin/Ryan Lipman (VU) 8-3
2. Andrew Adams/Kyle Koch (SC) def. Ryan Smith/Suresh Eswaran (VU) 8-4
3. Rhys Johnson/Pen Binet (VU) def. Thiago Pinheiro/Sam Swank (SC) 8-4
Singles (Order of Finish: 2, 5, 4, 1*)
1. (75) Andrew Adams (SC) def. (19) Gonzales Austin (VU) 7-5, 6-4
2. (60) Ryan Lipman (VU) def. (78) Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 6-2, 6-2
3. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) vs. Kris Yee (VU) 6-3, 1-6, 0-1 suspended
4. Chip Cox (SC) def. Jeffrey Offerdahl (VU) 3-6, 6-2, 6-0
5. Kyle Koch (SC) def. Rhys Johnson (VU) 6-0, 7-6 (5)
6. Andrew Schafer (SC) vs. Suresh Eswaran (VU) 3-6, 6-2, 2-4