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March 19, 2015

Preview | Live Scoring | Schedule | Roster | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Gamecocks Host SEC Tournament


COLUMBIA, S.C. — The 43rd-ranked South Carolina women’s tennis team will face No. 27 Mississippi State on Friday at 5 p.m. at Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. The Gamecocks then host No. 17 Ole Miss on Sunday at noon followed by South Carolina State at 6 p.m.

South Carolina (9-6, 2-4 SEC) split matches last weekend with a 6-1 victory at Missouri followed by a 4-3 loss at then-No. 44 Arkansas two days later. South Carolina took the doubles point from the Tigers and then snagged five victories in singles play to capture its second SEC victory. Ximena Siles Luna clinched the win with a 6-1, 6-4 victory at No. 6 singles to remain unbeaten in dual matches. The Gamecocks also received victories from Elixane Lechemia, Caroline Dailey, Hadley Berg and Meghan Blevins.

Versus Arkansas, the Gamecocks dropped a very close doubles point, splitting courts one and two, and the Razorbacks eventually took court three in a tiebreaker, 8-6. The two squads split the singles with Carolina winning courts one, four and five. Lechemia picked up her second win of the weekend in straight sets at the top position, as did Blevins and Siles Luna.

Looking at the rankings, South Carolina has Lechemia holding steady at No. 74 in singles with an 11-5 record overall and an 8-4 mark in duals that includes a team-best 4-2 against SEC foes. Blevins and Brigit Folland are the top-ranked duo in doubles at No. 45 with a 22-5 record together. They are 10-3 in dual matches and 4-2 versus the SEC. Berg and Dailey rank 53rd with a 7-2 record and are 5-2 in duals.

Rain postponed Mississippi State’s (13-3, 3-2 SEC) first match against then-No. 31 Auburn last weekend. The Bulldogs then registered a shocking 4-3 upset of then-No. 6 Alabama on Sunday. MSU lost the doubles point to open the match but responded by taking five of the first six sets in singles. Tied at 3-3, the match came down to a third set tiebreaker on court four, and freshman Louise Ronaldson delivered the clincher with a thrilling 6-0, 3-6, 7-6(2) victory. The win was MSU’s highest-ranked victory in program history, and the Bulldogs would follow with a 7-0 victory against Alabama A&M Sunday night.

Ole Miss (11-4, 3-3 SEC) split its matches last weekend, falling to Alabama in a close contest and then edging Auburn 4-3. Zalina Khairudinova clinched the win over Auburn, as the Rebels improved to 27-15 against the Tigers all-time. She is now 6-0 at No. 6 singles and 2-0 in SEC matches. Julia Jones earned her 95th career win, beating 74th-ranked Pleun Burgmans of Auburn in straight sets. Jones improved to 22-6 overall and 12-3 at No. 1 singles. Mai El Kamash put the Rebels on the board after they had dropped the doubles point with a straight set win at No. 4 singles. It marked her 20th win of the year.

South Carolina State (5-6, 1-1 MEAC) has won three in a row following matches with George Mason (7-0), North Carolina Central (4-3) and Savannah State (6-1). The Bulldogs take on Northwood in Hilton Head, S.C., on Friday and then host Florida A&M on Saturday before facing the Gamecocks.

South Carolina has a slight edge over Ole Miss in the all-time series with a 17-15 record. The Rebels owned the advantage from 1986 to 2000 with an 11-2 mark, but 15 of the past 19 contests have favored South Carolina. In those 15 victories, the Gamecocks pulled out the match by a 4-3 margin seven times. Carolina gave a pair of gritty performances over the Rebels last year beginning in Oxford, Miss., en route to a 4-2 victory and then earned another 4-2 win two weeks later in the SEC Tournament second round.

The Gamecocks own a near-perfect record in the all-time series with the Bulldogs. South Carolina is 25-1 with all 25 wins coming consecutively. Carolina has also never lost a match to MSU as a member of the Southeastern Conference. Last season, South Carolina put together an efficient 4-0 triumph in Starkville, Miss., a far cry from the 4-3 nail-biter the Gamecocks survived the last time the Bulldogs visited Columbia in 2013.

South Carolina and South Carolina State have played just three times and the Gamecocks are 3-0 versus the Bulldogs. The two squared off last year in Columbia in part one of a doubleheader for the Gamecocks, who prevailed 6-1. Carolina earned a 7-0 win in the first meeting between the two in 2007 and snagged a 6-1 victory in 2011. All the matches in the series have been played in Columbia.

South Carolina has just one match on its docket next week with a date against No. 2 Florida on Saturday, March 28, at 1 p.m. in Gainesville, Fla.