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Jan. 30, 2015

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The No. 21 South Carolina women’s tennis team suffered its first loss of the season Friday, dropping a 5-2 decision to No. 10 Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., to fall to 4-1. The Cavaliers improved to 3-1 with the victory.

The Cavaliers took the doubles point from the Gamecocks. No. 22 Julia Elbaba and Stephanie Nauta defeated Hadley Berg and Elixane Lechemia 6-2 at the top spot, while No. 11 Cassie Mercer and Skylar Morton upended No. 33 Meghan Blevins and Brigit Folland by the same score at the second position. At three doubles, South Carolina’s Caroline Dailey and Ximena Siles Luna led Danielle Collins and Maci Epstein 4-3 when UVa secured the point.

UVa charged ahead 3-0 in singles after No. 16 Nauta scored a 6-2, 6-0 win over Folland at No. 3 singles and Epstein followed with a 6-1, 6-4 win against Berg on court five. Siles Luna quickly answered for the Gamecocks with a 6-1, 6-4 win over her own versus Mercer at No. 6 singles to cut the deficit to 3-1.

The remaining three matches on courts one, two and four were tight with the Cavaliers leading 3-1. Dailey ended up coming back from a first set deficit to No. 42 Collins at two to win the first 6-4 and then the sophomore held on for a 7-6(4) win in the second to earn the highest ranked victory of her career. Collins was also the defending NCAA singles champion, marking the second time in the past five seasons a Gamecock has beaten a defending champ. In 2011, Anya Morgina defeated Georgia’s Chelsey Gullickson in three sets in a dual match.

No. 99 Blevins and Morton were deadlocked at 5-all in the third after Dailey trimmed Virginia’s lead to just one. Morton then went on to win the next two games to pick up a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 clinching victory.

With the team outcome decided, the remaining match on court one saw No. 120 Lechemia in a second set tiebreaker against the nation’s top-ranked player in Elbaba. After losing the first set 6-4, Lechemia won the breaker 7-5 to force a super tiebreaker for the third set. Lechemia fell behind 7-5 before winning three straight points for an 8-7 lead with the serve. Elbaba, though, managed to fight back to claim the next three rallies to survive by a 6-4, 6-7(5), (10-8) final.

The Gamecocks will take on rival and No. 13-ranked Clemson on Sunday in Clemson, S.C., at 1 p.m.

#10 Virginia def. #21 South Carolina, 5-2

Singles
1. #1 Julia Elbaba (UVa) def. #120 Elixane Lechemia (SC), 6-4, 6-7(5), (10-8)
2. Caroline Dailey (SC), def. #42 Danielle Collins (UVa), 6-4, 7-6(4)
3. #16 Stephanie Nauta (UVa) def. Brigit Folland (SC), 6-2, 6-0
4. Skylar Morton (UVa) def. #99 Meghan Blevins (SC), 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
5. Maci Epstein (UVa) def. Hadley Berg (SC), 6-1, 6-4
6. Ximena Siles Luna (SC) def. Cassie Mercer (UVa), 6-1, 6-4

Order of Finish: 3, 5, 6, 2, 4, 1

Doubles
1. #22 Elbaba/Nauta (UVa) def. Berg/Lechemia (SC), 6-2
2. #11 Mercer/Morton (UVa) def. #33 Blevins/Folland (SC), 6-2
3. Dailey/Siles Luna (SC) vs. Collins/Epstein (UVa), 4-3 susp.

Order of Finish: 2, 1

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