March 14, 2015
KNOXVILLE – No. 38 South Carolina saw a few key points slip away in a 4-1 loss at No. 55 Tennessee Saturday afternoon at Goodfriend Tennis Center. The Gamecocks (11-9, 2-4 SEC) staged a comeback in both doubles and singles action, but the Vols had enough to hold on for the win with the home crowd behind them. Freshman Harrison O’Keefe continues to shine for South Carolina, winning his doubles match and recording the team’s lone singles victory as well.
Tennessee struck first in two of the three doubles matches, scoring service breaks in the first two games at the top and bottom of the lineup. In the No. 2 spot, Thomas Mayronne and O’Keefe, ranked 47th in the nation, went up a break on Andrew Dromsky and Igor Smelyanski at 2-1. That lead held as Andrew Adams and Andrew Schafer looked to stage a rally from a 1-4 deficit in the No. 3 spot, closing to within 3-4. No. 44 Kyle Koch and Thiago Pinheiro shook off the slow start against No. 2 Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Resses at the top of the lineup, battling to get back the early service break. As Mayronne/O’Keefe delivered its 6-4 win, Adams/Schafer saw its comeback stymied by another service break and Jack Schipanski and Luis Valero served out the 6-3 victory, leaving the point in the hands of the ranked showdown at the top of the lineup. Libietis/Reese held off Kock/Pinheiro down the stretch, making the single service break hold up for a 6-4 win that gave the Vols the early 1-0 lead in the match.
Singles opened with great starts from Adams and Mayronne in the Nos. 1 and 6 positions, respectively, with Schafer and O’Keefe on serve early. Adams opened a quick 4-1 lead on No. 14 Libietis, while Mayronne broke Brandon Fickey’s serve early in the match to take a 3-1 lead. South Carolina’s freshmen – O’Keefe and Mayronne – won their first sets, but No. 103 Schafer yielded a late break to Valero to drop his first set 6-4. The tide continued to shift the Vols’ way as Libietis won four of the next five games against Adams to level their first set at 5-5 just as Tennessee won first sets in the Nos. 2 and 3 matches as well.
In second-set action, Koch and Pinheiro rallied back from their first-set losses to open early leads. Koch broke Reese’s serve early for a 3-1 edge in the No. 2 contest, while Pinheiro staked out a 4-1 edge on No. 95 Schipanski in the No. 3 match. Fickey had similarly turned the tables on Mayronne at the bottom of the lineup, and Schafer and O’Keefe were on serve in their matches as Adams suffered a late service break to drop his first set 7-5 to Libietis.
Pinheiro forced Schipanski to a third set with his 6-1 second-set win, but the Vols took a 2-0 lead in the team scoring as Valero closed out Schafer 6-4, 6-3 and Fickey won his second set over Mayronne to force a third in the No. 6 spot. The Gamecocks looked to rally, though, as O’Keefe cut Tennessee’s lead in half with his 6-4, 6-4 win over Smelyanski and Koch took Reese into a third set in the No. 2 match.
The Vols’ leader, Libietis stopped the momentum, though, with his 7-5, 6-4 win over Adams, and Schipanski opened an early lead on Pinheiro en route to a 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 win at No. 3 that clinched the team victory.
Carolina has a week to prepare for a Sun., March 22, showdown at No. 3 Georgia, before returning to Carolina Tennis Center the following Sunday for a doubleheader that features a 1 p.m. start against No. 11 Vanderbilt.
#55 Tennessee 4, #38 South Carolina 1
Doubles (Order of Finish: 2, 3, 1)
1. (2) Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (TN) def. (44) Kyle Koch / Thiago Pinheiro (SC) 6-4
2. (47) Thomas Mayronne / Harrison O’Keefe (SC) def. Andrew Dromsky/Igor Smelyanski (TN) 6-4
3. Jack Schipanski/Luis Valero (TN) def. Andrew Adams / Andrew Schafer (SC) 6-3
Singles (Order of Finish: 4, 5, 1, 3*)
1. (15) Mikelis Libietis (TN) def. Andrew Adams (SC) 7-5, 6-4
2. Kyle Koch (SC) tied Hunter Reese (TN) 6-2, 3-6, 1-1 suspended
3. (95) Jack Schipanski (TN) def. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) 6-3, 1-6, 6-1
4. Luis Valero (TN) def. (113) Andrew Schafer (SC) 6-4, 6-3
5. Harrison O’Keefe (SC) def. Igor Smelyanski (TN) 6-4, 6-4
6. Thomas Mayronne (SC) led Brandon Fickey (TN) 6-3, 1-6, 4-2 suspended