Nov. 6, 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina men’s tennis heads to its last fall tournament this weekend, traveling to familiar territory in Athens, Ga., for the Bulldog Scramble Friday through Sunday. In the non-bracket event, the Gamecocks will match up in six singles and three doubles flights against entries Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Oklahoma, Louisville and Kentucky.
“We’re taking six players so we can have them all on the court at the same time like we would for a dual match. We’ll be working on things that don’t necessarily have to do with tennis in general but are specific to college tennis – always being positive for their teammates on the courts next to them, how they’re affecting the guys next to them, the energy from the other five guys on the court. We’ve done a lot of developing of individual players’ games this fall, and that’s part of this weekend, but the newcomers have already had a couple of tournaments along those lines. So, this is putting the whole package together in terms of collegiate tennis.”
Senior Kyle Koch has been strong throughout the fall with a 6-2 singles record. He advanced to the quarterfinals of the SEC Fall Classic and the round of 16 at the ITA Carolina Regional, defeating a pair of ranked opponents along the way. Fellow senior Thiago Pinheiro brings a 3-1 record into the weekend, reaching the round of 16 in the ITA Carolina Regional in his first result of the season. His third-set tiebreak victory over his ranked opponent from Duke showed he is back on track for the emotional, clutch deliveries that punctuated his sophomore season.
Sophomore Andrew Schafer picked up right where he left off in his SEC All-Freshman season, powering to the round of 16 at the SEC Fall Classic right away before dropping a tough three-set match against the No. 7 player in the nation in the round of 32 in the ITA Carolina Regional. Classmate Sam Swank is aiming to close his fall with a strong performance this weekend after posting a win in each of his first two events.
Freshmen Thomas Mayronne and Harrison O’Keefe are ready to lift their singles results to match their doubles success. The duo stormed through to the doubles final of the SEC Fall Classic in their first collegiate competition and are 5-2 on the season.
Goffi likes what he has seen from his team so far this fall and anticipates that everyone will punctuate their the fall development with a final lesson this weekend.
“Guys are really starting to buy into their identity. It’s been a major stressor for us since the middle of last season when we saw guys over-playing based on pressure that was put on us. That only comes when a player doesn’t know his identity, doesn’t know `This is who I am and what I’m capable of doing – good and bad.’ They really harnessed that throughout the summer, and the last few months of the fall has been all about that – developing their exact game plan and understanding their high end and low end of the range and how to move each of those up. We didn’t have anyone win Regional, but we we had great results in that some of our middle or bottom of the lineup guys were in the round of 32 or 16 and challenging the top seeds at the event. That’s sort of who we are as a team. We don’t have superstars; we have solid guys up and down the lineup that make up a good team.
In this weekend’s event, Goffi plans to move his players between flights as he looks to fine tune his dual-match lineup for the spring. All teams will play two singles and one doubles match each day beginning at 9:30 a.m.