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April 17, 2014


COLUMBIA, Mo. — The 30th-ranked and eighth-seeded South Carolina women’s tennis team advanced to the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament on Thursday with a 4-2 win over No. 33 and ninth-seeded Ole Miss in Columbia, Mo., at the Mizzou Tennis Complex. The Gamecocks improved to 16-9 on the season, while the Rebels dropped to 13-9. Carolina will next face No. 3-ranked and top-seeded Alabama on Friday at 3 p.m.

The Gamecocks dominated Ole Miss from start to finish for the doubles point. Ximena Siles Luna and Caroline Dailey earned the first win at the No. 3 spot versus Julia Jones and Zalina Khairudinova by an 8-2 score. From there, No. 47 Meghan Blevins and Katerina Popova secured the point with an 8-1 triumph over Caroline Rohde-Moe and Marija Milutinovic on court two. At one, No. 43 Dominika Kanakova and Elixane Lechemia led No. 87 Erin Stephens and Iris Verboven 6-4 when play was suspended.

Lechemia snagged her 20th victory of the season to push the Gamecocks ahead 2-0 with a 6-1, 6-4 triumph on court one against Rohde-Moe. The junior from Lyon, France, became South Carolina’s first 20-match winner this season and improved to 10-5 at the No. 1 singles position.

The Rebels answered back, though, at the No. 5 slot with Stephens picking up a 6-3, 7-5 decision over Dailey. Blevins was just a game away from advancing South Carolina to another two-point advantage when Stephens got the win, leading 5-4 in the second against Khairudinova after winning the first 6-4. Khairudinova had the serve and after going to deuce, Blevins was able to get the win after her opponent hit a forehand that sailed beyond the baseline. The win made Blevins the Gamecocks’ second 20-match winner of the season and improved her dual match record to a team-best 16-6 this spring.

Once again, Ole Miss struck right back to make it a one-point margin. No. 100 Jones grabbed the first set from Popova 6-3 and the two were in a tiebreaker for the second set when Blevins finished up her match. Popova had the serve down 6-5 but lost a long rally to give the Rebels their second point on the day.

Courts four and six were all that remained after Popova’s contest. When she finished and the Gamecocks leading 3-2, Brigit Folland of South Carolina was in a third set up a break on Mai El Kamash 2-1 on court four. Siles Luna won the first set from Verboven at six 7-5 but faced a 3-1 deficit in the second.

Folland took command with another break of serve up 4-2 for a chance to serve out the match. Meanwhile, on court six, Verboven cruised to a 6-1 victory to force a third. El Kamash had a chance to break back on Folland’s serve up 30-40, but Folland stayed strong and won three straight rallies to earn the 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory to send the Gamecocks into the quarterfinals.

The remaining match at No. 6 singles was suspended with Verboven leading 1-0 in the third set over Siles Luna.

1. #84 Elixane Lechemia, USC, def. Caroline Rohde-Moe, OM, 6-1, 6-4
2. #100 Julia Jones, OM, def. #106 Katerina Popova, USC, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5)
3. Meghan Blevins, USC, def. Zalina Khairudinova, OM, 6-4, 6-4
4. Brigit Folland, USC, def. Mai El Kamash, OM, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
5. Erin Stephens, OM, def. Caroline Dailey, USC, 6-3, 7-5
6. Ximena Siles Luna, USC, vs. Iris Verboven, OM, 7-5, 1-6, 0-1 susp.

Order of Finish: 1, 5, 3, 2, 4

1. #43 Lechemia/Dominika Kanakova, USC, vs. #87 Stephens/Verboven, OM, 6-4 susp.
2. #47 Blevins/Popova, USC, def. Rohde-Moe/Marija Milutinovic, OM, 8-1
3. Siles Luna/Dailey, USC, def. Jones/Khairudinova, OM, 8-2

Order of Finish: 3, 2