Feb. 26, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The 42nd-ranked South Carolina women’s tennis team opens SEC play Friday by hosting No. 30 Auburn at 5 p.m. at Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. The Gamecocks then welcome No. 9 Alabama to the Palmetto State for a noon match-up on Sunday.
South Carolina (7-2) captured a 7-0 win at Furman on Saturday in its last match to wrap up non-conference play. Carolina has two ranked individuals in singles with Elixane Lechemia at No. 121 in singles and Caroline Dailey at No. 124. In doubles, Hadley Berg and Dailey are rated No. 58. Dailey has the most dual match victories with a 7-1 record and Meghan Blevins is close behind with a 6-2 mark to go along with a team-leading 18 singles victories overall. Ximena Siles Luna is undefeated in duals this year at 6-0. Blevins and Brigit Folland are 18-3 as a doubles duo and are 6-1 for duals. Folland leads the team in doubles victories as an individual with a 23-4 record. Blevins is second with a 20-5 mark.
Auburn (10-2) went 3-0 two weekends ago versus Samford, UAB and Troy to close out non-conference play. The Tigers have not played since Feb. 15. Andie Dikosavljevic picked up three singles wins, two at the No. 1 spot, during the weekend. The freshman is 9-2 in dual match play and has won seven matches in a row. Paula de Man continued her strong play at No. 5, finishing the weekend with a 3-0 mark. The junior captain is 6-0 since the dual match season began. Emily Flickinger earned two more doubles wins to close in on the school record. The senior is just two wins away from breaking the school record of 87 career doubles wins that is currently held by Alex Haney (2006-09). Flickinger and Pleun Burgmans are the No. 8-rated doubles team in the nation. Burgmans also ranks 55th in singles.
Alabama (8-1) won its second consecutive Blue Gray championship over the weekend, notching a pair of 4-0 wins over Boise State and DePaul, before taking down Texas Tech in the final round. Junior Maya Jansen was named the 2015 Blue Gray Classic MVP after going 3-0 in doubles play and earning a pair of victories in singles. The Tide won the doubles point in all three matches and has now claimed the opening point in eight of nine matches on the season. Jansen and Erin Routliffe are ranked No. 9 nationally in doubles and are the defending NCAA champions. Routliffe is the top-ranked player on the team in singles at No. 35, followed by Jansen (56) and Danielle Spielmann (64).
The Gamecocks hold the all-time edge in both series with Auburn and Alabama. South Carolina is 14-11 versus the Crimson Tide but has lost the last four. Last year, Alabama snagged a 4-1 victory in Tuscaloosa, Ala., during the regular season and then survived by a 4-2 score against the Gamecocks in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament in Columbia, Mo. The Gamecocks suffered a 4-1 setback to the Crimson Tide the last time Alabama visited South Carolina in 2013 in an indoor match. South Carolina took the doubles point but could not muster any victories in singles play in the contest.
South Carolina has a dominant advantage over the Tigers since first playing Auburn in the mid-80s with a 26-6 mark. The Gamecocks won 17 straight versus Auburn from 1994 to 2007, but the Tigers have stepped up their level of play since then. The two teams have split the last eight meetings, with the Gamecocks losing last year’s battle in Auburn 4-1. South Carolina defeated Auburn the last time it visited Columbia in 2013 with a 4-1 upset of the then-No. 18 Tigers.
Next weekend, Carolina hits the road for the first of four consecutive SEC matches away from home starting with Texas A&M on March 6. The Gamecocks then head to Baton Rouge, La., to face No. 45 LSU on March 8.