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April 18, 2014


COLUMBIA, Mo. – The 30th-ranked and eighth-seeded South Carolina women’s tennis team gave top-seeded and No. 3-ranked Alabama all it could handle in a 4-2 loss to the Crimson Tide in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament in Columbia, Mo., at the Mizzou Tennis Complex on Friday. South Carolina dropped to 16-10 on the season, while the Crimson Tide improved to 21-3.

The Gamecocks fought hard in the doubles competition but came away empty-handed as Alabama took two of three matches. At No. 2 doubles, the Crimson Tide’s No. 41-ranked duo of Mary Anne Daines and Danielle Spielmann led from the outset against No. 47 Katerina Popova and Meghan Blevins en route to an 8-4 triumph. South Carolina answered right back with No. 43 Elixane Lechemia and Dominika Kanakova upsetting seventh-ranked Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe 8-4 at No. 1 doubles.

The deciding match at No. 3 doubles with Alabama’s No. 48 Emily Zabor and Luicelena Perez saw the duo take a 5-3 advantage on Caroline Dailey and Ximena Siles Luna. Zabor and Perez still had a 6-5 lead with a break, but Dailey and Siles Luna broke back to get to 6-all and Dailey then held her serve to give the Gamecocks the lead. Bama held in the ensuing game as well to force a tiebreaker. Trailing just 3-2 in the tiebreaker, Dailey and Siles Luna surrendered four straight rallies to give Zabor and Perez the win and the Crimson Tide a 1-0 advantage heading to singles play.

South Carolina responded in singles by winning the first sets on courts one, three, four and five, while Alabama took courts two and six. Perez advanced Alabama’s lead to 2-0 after taking care of Siles Luna 6-2, 6-1 at No. 6 singles. Next, Spielmann finished off No. 106 Popova on court two to place the Tide within a point of advancing to the semifinals.

Dailey counterpunched for Carolina by dispatching Zabor at the No. 5 slot to earn her 20th win of the season. She joined Lechemia and Blevins as a member of the 20-win club, as both juniors reached the plateau a day ago in the victory over Ole Miss.

When Dailey concluded her match, No. 84 Lechemia led No. 55 Daines 7-5, 4-3 at the No. 1 position, while Blevins had just lost the second set to No. 73 Routliffe at three after winning the first. Folland was tied 2-2 in the third set against Jansen at No. 4 singles.

Lechemia earned a break of serve to take a 5-3 lead on Daines for a chance to serve out the match and pull the Gamecocks within a point of tying the contest. Lechemia grabbed a 40-0 advantage to set up triple match point, but Daines fought her way back to deuce and after fending off two more match points, Daines stole the game to get the set back on serve. Lechemia managed another break, however, in the next game and won the match on her seventh match point to earn her second win of the spring over Daines. Lechemia now leads the team in singles victories with 21 this season. She is also 11-5 at the top singles position.

Unfortunately, right after Lechemia posted the win, Folland lost the third set to Jansen. Jansen picked up the victory by a 1-6, 6-1, 6-2 score at No. 4 singles to clinch the win for Alabama. Blevins also faced a large deficit in the third set to Routliffe at five, trailing 4-1 when play stopped. She won the first set 6-4 but dropped the second to Routliffe 7-5.

The Gamecocks will now wait for the NCAA Tournament Selection Show scheduled for Tuesday, April 29, at 5:30 p.m. on South Carolina is in position to make its 20th consecutive NCAA appearance.

1. #84 Elixane Lechemia, USC, def. #55 Mary Anne Daines, UA, 7-5, 6-4
2. Danielle Spielmann, UA, def. #106 Katerina Popova, USC, 6-2, 6-3
3. Meghan Blevins, USC, vs. #73 Erin Routliffe, UA, 6-4, 5-7, 1-4 susp.
4. Maya Jansen, UA, def. Brigit Folland, USC, 1-6, 6-1, 6-2
5. Caroline Dailey, USC, def. Emily Zabor, UA, 6-2, 6-3
6. Luicelena Perez, UA, def. Ximena Siles Luna, USC, 6-2, 6-1

Order of Finish: 6, 2, 5, 1, 4

1. #43 Lechemia/Dominika Kanakova, USC, def. #7 Jansen/Routliffe, UA, 8-4
2. #41 Daines/Spielmann, UA, def. #47 Blevins/Popova, USC, 8-4
3. #48 Perez/Zabor, UA, def. Siles Luna/Dailey, USC, 8-7 (7-2)

Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3