March 27, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 42 South Carolina (11-10, 2-5 SEC) welcomes No. 17 Vanderbilt (13-3, 3-1 SEC) and The Citadel (1-20) to Carolina Tennis Center this Sunday for a doubleheader set to begin at 1 p.m.
The Gamecocks come into the weekend having dropped their last two decisions, but will look to feed off the energy of their home crowd. South Carolina is 7-3 this season when playing in Columbia, including recent wins over Kentucky, Coastal Carolina and then-No. 28 LSU.
South Carolina will lean on its doubles pairings, headlined by No. 31 Kyle Koch/Thiago Pinheiro and No. 56 Thomas Mayronne/Harrison O’Keefe. Mayronne/O’Keefe captured a victory against Georgia last weekend, topping then-No. 70 Nathan Pasha/Eric Diaz. Koch/Pinheiro come into this weekend’s doubleheader at 10-5 overall and 7-5 (2-3 SEC) in dual matches. With a doubles win against either Vanderbilt or The Citadel, Koch will take sole possession of the Gamecocks’ career doubles wins record. He is currently tied with Olof Akesson (1997-2000) with 87.
Closing in on their final matches in garnet and black, Gamecock seniors Koch, Pinheiro and Andrew Adams look to finish the year strong. In singles play, Koch is 20-10 overall and 11-6 (2-3 SEC) in dual matches this season. The hard-serving, Irmo, S.C., native has moved up and down the top of the lineup this season, playing most of his matches out of the No. 2 position. Koch, however, did play No. 1 for the Gamecocks last weekend against Georgia in a match against No. 30 Austin Smith that was suspended in the third set. Adams, like Koch, has moved between the Nos. 1 and 2 positions this season, facing stiff competition, including ranked opponents in seven of his last eight outings with the last two against top-20 foes.
Sophomore Andrew Schafer is 18-12 overall and 11-7 (4-2 SEC) in dual matches this season and has been South Carolina’s most consistent performer, playing out of a combination of the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 positions.
Vanderbilt is riding a two-match win streak into Columbia, coming off wins against then-No. 40 Tennessee and Kentucky. No. 7 Gonzales Austin has played every match out of the No. 1 position and is 29-5 overall and 17-1 (5-1 SEC) in dual matches. Gonzales is the Commodores’ lone representative in the singles rankings and is also a part of the nation’s No. 4 doubles pairing. Austin teams with Rhys Johnson to form a duo that comes into the weekend 30-6 overall and 14-3 (5-1 SEC) in dual matches. No. 71 Pen Binet/Baker Newman and No. 77 Johnson/Jeff Offerdahl round out Vanderbilt’s ranked pairings. Daniel Valent is 26-6 overall and 15-2 (5-0 SEC) in dual matches this season and has rotated between positions 2-4 for the Commodores.
The Citadel has notched only one win this season, a 5-2 decision over Murray State on Feb. 6. The Bulldogs have played against four ranked opponents, including an early-season matchup with then-No. 42 Auburn. Freshman Artemie Amari has moved throughout the lineup this season, but played out of the No. 1 position for The Citadel last weekend against Wofford. Senior Peter Bleach played the majority of the season from the No. 1 slot, but moved down to No. 2 with Amari’s rise.
After the weekend doubleheader, the Gamecocks hit the road for a two-match SEC weekend. South Carolina heads to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to take on No. 29 Alabama on Friday, April 3, at 6 p.m. before taking on No. 14 Mississippi State on Sunday, April 5, at 2 p.m. in Starkville, Miss.