Jan. 16, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. – University of South Carolina men’s tennis opens its 2015 spring season with a doubleheader on Sat., Jan. 17. The Gamecocks, who enter the season ranked 27th in the nation, will take on the 55th-ranked Elon Phoenix at 10 a.m. and the Furman Paladins at 3 p.m. Both matches will take place in the USC Fieldhouse.
South Carolina’s roster features three seniors, Thiago Pinheiro, Kyle Koch and Andrew Adams, who lead a team that will depend on its youth for production. Pinheiro (No. 71) and Koch (No. 118) are joined by sophomore Andrew Schafer (No. 83) in the singles national rankings. Freshmen Thomas Mayronne and Harrison O’Keefe make up the 46th-ranked doubles team. Adams and Koch are back as the Gamecocks’ most successful doubles team in dual match play last season, boasting a 12-5 record. South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi is in his fifth season leading the Gamecocks and looks to continue his streak of three straight trips to the NCAA Tournament.
The Elon Phoenix bring a roster filled with experience; their six seniors are more than South Carolina and Furman combined. The Phoenix are led by five-time Southern Conference coach of the year, Michael Leonard, who is in his 11th season. Now in the Colonial Athletic Association, Elon is looking to improve on last season’s 19-5 record that included Southern Conference titles both in the regular season and tournament play. The Phoenix received a bid to the NCAA Tournament but fell in the first round to second-seeded Tennessee. Headlining Elon’s deep senior class are Stefan Fortmann, who played mostly in the No. 2 spot and closed last season on a 14-match win streak then went 6-4 this fall, and Jordan Kaufman, whose 16 wins led the team last season.
Led by fourth-year head coach Kelly Jones, the Paladins come into the weekend having already played in three matches. Furman participated in last weekend’s Florida State Invitational, dropping matches to Denver, No. 66 La.-Lafayette and No. 40 Central Florida. The Paladins’ picked up a pair of points against La.-Lafayette with a 6-4, 6-2 singles win for sophomore Juan Sheppard. Furman also captured the doubles point in the match thanks to a 6-4 win from the Behal/Steryous duo and a 6-1 victory from the Browne/Horst pair. The Paladins’ 2014 campaign, led primarily by seniors, concluded with a 4-1 loss to Elon in the championship of the Southern Conference Tournament. This year’s roster features five freshmen and three sophomores to go along with just four combined juniors and seniors.
Following this weekend’s matches, the Gamecocks travel to Gainesville, Fla., to take part in the ITA Kickoff weekend where they will face off against 30th-ranked Stanford on Sat., Jan. 24, and either 13th-ranked Florida or 31st-ranked Ole Miss the following morning.
Admission and parking for all home tennis matches is free of charge.