May 9, 2014
Match Day Information
NCAA Tournament – 1st Round
Date: Sat., May 10, 9 a.m.
Opponent: No. 53 George Washington
Site: Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Next Match: Saturday’s winner plays either No. 7 North Carolina or South Carolina State
South Carolina found its rhythm down the stretch of the regular season, winning seven of their last 10 matches, and head coach Josh Goffi was happy with the way his team competed at the SEC Tournament, where the Gamecocks advanced to the quarterfinals for the second straight season. The bottom half of the Gamecocks’ lineup has been the backbone of the late-season surge, buoyed by the emergence of Andrew Adams at the top of the order. In the Nos. 4-6 spots senior Chip Cox, junior Kyle Koch and freshman Andrew Schafer are a combined 13-2 in the month of April. Adams’ 3-2 April record as much as his ability to extend matches at the top of the order has impacted South Carolina’s success.
Reading the Rankings
South Carolina moved up two spots to No. 28 this week after splitting a pair of matches at the SEC Tournament three weeks ago. Junior Andrew Adams is the Gamecocks’ lone singles entry in the national rankings, coming in at No. 54 to eclipse his previous career-high rank of No. 62 in the fall of hos sophomore year. On the doubles side, South Carolina’s top tandem of Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov come in at No. 30.
Head coach Josh Goffi anticipates using the following lineup in NCAA Tournament action:
1. #30 Chip Cox/Tsvetan Mihov (5-6)
2. Andrew Adams/Kyle Koch (11-4)
3. Thiago Pinheiro/Andrew Schafer (1-3)
1. #54 Andrew Adams (12-8)
2. Tsvetan Mihov (17-21)
3. Thiago Pinheiro (14-13)
4. Chip Cox (22-12)
5. Kyle Koch (16-12)
6. Andrew Schafer (26-10)
South Carolina collected a pair of accolades from the SEC’s coaches this season. Junior Andrew Adams earned Second-Team SEC honors for the second-consecutive season. It marks the third straight that he has been recognized by the coaches after earning All-Freshman honors in 2012. Making his debut on the SEC All-Freshman team this year for the Gamecocks, Andrew Schafer was recognized for his outstanding first collegiate season.
Against George Washington
The Gamecocks and Colonials have met just once before on the tennis courts. Back on March 12, 1952, George Washington traveled to Columbia, where it handed South Carolina an 8-1 loss.
Gamecocks in the NCAA Tournament
South Carolina is 13-21 all-time in NCAA Tournament matches, spanning 21 previous appearances in the event. The Gamecocks have made the field in each of the last three seasons. South Carolina has played in the Round of 16 six times, most recently in 2005, and the program’s best showing was a spot in the semifinals of the 1989 tournament. The Gamecocks earned spots in the NCAA Tournament for 13 straight seasons from 1994 through 2006. This season, South Carolina has played 16 matches against teams in the 2014 tournament field posting a 5-11 record. Of the SEC’s 13 teams, 10 earned spots in the NCAA Tournament, and the Gamecocks took on five non-conference opponents who earned spots in the field – Clemson, Harvard, NC State, Memphis and Wake Forest.
Strength of SEC
The Gamecocks endure one of the most grueling conference schedules in the country with all 13 SEC schools ranked in the top 60. The league leads the nation with seven teams among the top 20 with the ACC next in line with four. The SEC is second among conference with two teams in the top 10, joining the Pac-12 and ACC in trailing the Big 12’s three entries.
South Carolina’s top doubles team of seniors Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov sprinted into the postseason, winning four straight outings to close out the regular season and move up to No. 23 in the nation. The duo is in its second season together after climbing as high as No. 14 in the rankings last season, although each was paired with a different partner earlier this season. In early March, head coach Josh Goffi reunited the senior tandem, which is now 5-6 on the season. Their wins including dominating performances against the nation’s No. 3 and No. 20 duos to close out SEC play. Cox and Mihov also have a win over the No. 9 team in the nation this season.
Junior Andrew Adams limped into his third year in the Garnet and Black after off-season surgery that kept him out of competition in the fall, but the Laurel, Md., native has made the most of his spring campaign with a 12-8 dual-match record that moved him into the No. 1 spot in the singles lineup, a No. 54 national ranking and a spot on the All-SEC Second Team. After posting a 7-5 mark in the No. 2 position, Adams has gone 5-2 at the top of the order and lifted his national rank to No. 55. He has been most impressive against the best competition, posting a 2-1 record against top-20 opponents, including the highest-ranked win of his career against No. 16 Nik Scholtz of Ole Miss – the SEC Player of the Year’s only league loss of the season. Adams has won five of his last seven decisions. Adams has also added a strong doubles record this season, especially since teaming with Kyle Koch. The duo came together in early March and won its first nine matches, including seven SEC outings. A move to the top of the lineup briefly disrupted the streak, but the pair is back on track, winning two of their last three matches.
Sensational Senior Season
Senior Chip Cox, who was the first elite signee from the state of South Carolina to join head coach Josh Goffi in Columbia, is closing his Gamecock career with his best season. The Myrtle Beach, S.C., native earned a spot in the singles lineup the moment he stepped on campus and has persevered through up and down campaigns. This season’s 22-12 record is the best of his career and includes a career-best five SEC victories. With a 17-7 dual-match record that includes four match-clinching wins, Cox has contributed this season no matter where Goffi has put him in the lineup. He began the spring in the No. 5 spot, where he went 8-2, including the team’s lone singles point at Florida. The success propelled him into the No. 4 position for three matches and then up to No. 3, where he went 3-3. Cox has played the last five matches in the No. 4 spot, where he is currently 6-2, including a 3-2 mark in SEC action.
Thrive at Five
Junior Kyle Koch enters the NCAA Tournament riding an 11-match singles win streak that includes eight SEC regular-season victories and two SEC Tournament Ws. The Irmo, S.C., native shook off a difficult start to the spring campaign, finding his rhythm in the spot in the lineup he has always been most successful – No. 5. Koch’s career 27-6 record in the No. 5 spot in the Gamecocks’ lineup includes this season’s 10-0 mark and a 16-3 slate in SEC action. His nine SEC wins last season, which included eight at No. 5, tied for second-best in school history, and this season’s eight are also among the program’s top-10. His .889 SEC winning percentage (8-1) this season is tied for fifth-best all-time at South Carolina. Koch’s career 19 SEC victories are tied for seventh in program history. Adding his doubles success into the mix, Koch is already nearing the program’s top 20 for career matches won. His current total of 124 (58 singles, 66 doubles) is just eight shy of the making the list.
SEC All-Freshman Team selection Andrew Schafer has enjoyed his inaugural collegiate campaign, from powering his way into the qualifying bracket of the ITA All-American event in the fall to his 19-5 dual-match record this spring. He has a team-high 26 singles wins this season, which ties him for ninth all-time among Gamecock freshmen, and his 19 dual-match wins are seventh in the Gamecocks’ freshman record book. His current .792 dual-match winning percentage is fourth-best South Carolina freshman history. Schafer is the Gamecocks’ most reliable point in the No. 6 spot, especially early in the season while teammates were finding their confidence at new spots in the lineup. He won 13 of his first 14 dual matches, including his SEC debut for the team’s only point at Texas A&M. Schafer has won five of his last six decisions, including the match-clinching point in the SEC Tournament second round.
Junior Thiago Pinheiro has long been the emotional leader of the team, and this season has been no different despite his own occasional struggles. Moving up to the No. 3 spot in the lineup, the Brazilian has faced more challenges but he has never backed down. His ability to compete with some of the best players in the SEC is a constant example to his teammates of the effort their head coach demands. So, while Pinheiro’s 9-9 singles record may appear to have had minimal effect on South Carolina’s success, every Gamecock will beg to differ.
If South Carolina advances to Saturday’s match, the Gamecocks have markedly different histories with their potential opponent. North Carolina holds a 40-17-1 advantage over the Gamecocks, although the two teams have not met since May 8, 2009. That NCAA Tournament first-round match in Charlottesville, Va., ended in a 4-0 win for the Tar Heels, stretching their win streak over South Carolina to five. The two Carolinas have not met in regular-season play since Feb. 17, 2007, when a 6-1 Tar Heel win became the last in 10 straight years of meeting in the regular season. The Gamecocks and Tar Heels met regularly while both were members of the ACC (1956-1971). The Gamecocks are 2-0 all-time against South Carolina State after meetings in 1983 and 1984.
South Carolina’s future is bright as head coach Josh Goffi signed the second-ranked recruiting class in the nation. Two member of that four-man class are already on the Gamecocks’ roster as Thomas Mayronne (Monroe, La.) and Harrison O’Keefe (Salem, Va.) chose to enroll in January and redshirt this season. Prior to enrolling at South Carolina, Mayronne was ranked 17th in the nation and first in the Gulf States Region, while O’Keefe came in at No. 22 nationally and third in the Middle Atlantic Region. The two other members of the class – Wood Benton (Spartanburg, S.C.) and Gabriel Friedrich (Pelotas, Brazil) – are set to join the Gamecocks in the fall. Benton is among the state of South Carolina’s top-five players and ranked in the 50s nationally. Friedrich has a rich international experience that had him ranked as high as No. 33 in the ITF Juniors.