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March 11, 2015


COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 38 South Carolina men’s tennis looks to build momentum from a 2-1 effort last weekend in an SEC showdown with Kentucky on Thu., March 12, at 1 p.m. at Carolina Tennis Center. The Gamecocks (10-8, 1-3 SEC) were solid in a pair of SEC outings last weekend and are locked in as they head into the bulk of their SEC schedule.

Sophomore Andrew Schafer is the lone Gamecock ranked in singles action, but South Carolina got a boost from the top of its lineup last weekend, which will be a key to down the stretch of the season. Ranked No. 101, Schafer is following up his SEC All-Freshman campaign last season with another outstanding effort, especially in league play, during which he is 4-0. He is 11-5 in dual matches this season and 18-10 overall, including a 4-2 mark against ranked opponents. Freshman Harrison O’Keefe has been another steady scorer in the No. 4 or 5 spot for South Carolina with an 11-4 mark in dual matches, and senior Kyle Koch has held down the top half of the lineup wit his 10-6 dual-match record, playing mostly in the No. 2 spot in the order.

South Carolina got a boost with the triumphant return of seniors Andrew Adams and Thiago Pinheiro from illness and injury that has plagued both throughout the early part of the season. Pinheiro’s efficient win in the No. 3 spot against then-No. 28 LSU set the tone for the Gamecocks’ first SEC victory of the season. Adam did the same from the No. 1 spot against then-No. 10 Texas A&M, yielding just three games in a straight-set effort against a ranked opponent who had won their previous two matches this season, as South Carolina came within points of notching the upset of the Aggies. He went on to win his second match of the doubleheader to improve to 10-15 on the season.

In doubles, which continues to be the key to the Gamecocks’ victories, South Carolina now boasts a pair of nationally ranked tandems. The Gamecocks have captured the doubles point in all 10 of their wins this season but just three times in their eight losses. Seniors Koch and Pinheiro top the South Carolina doubles lineup and shot up the rankings to No. 44 in the nation after a commanding win over the then-No. 8 team from Texas A&M last weekend. The duo is now 6-3 in dual matches and 9-3 overall this season. Freshmen Thomas Mayronne and O’Keefe have split their last four matches, dropping slightly to No. 47 in the nation.

Kentucky brings a 7-9 record to Columbia looking for its first SEC win of the season. The Wildcats have a pair of ranked singles entries, but are struggling in the lower half of their lineup. Ranked 92nd in the nation, junior Beck Pennington mans the No. 1 spot in the order with a 4-5 record in the position. Freshman William Bushamuka comes in at No. 125 in the country, making an early statement in his career with a 10-3 dual-match record, largely out of the third spot in the lineup. He is 17-7 on the season with three wins over ranked opponents. Pennington and junior Kevin Lai team up for the No. 58 doubles team in the country behind their 4-5 record at the top of the Wildcats’ lineup with a signature top-10 victory back in January.

Thursday’s match wraps up a four-match home stretch for the Gamecocks, who travel to No. 55 Tennessee for a 1 p.m. (ET) match on Sat., March 14.