March 27, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The 26th-ranked South Carolina women’s tennis team squares off with No. 5 Florida on Saturday at Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, Fla., at 1 p.m.
South Carolina (12-6, 4-4 SEC) posted a spectacular weekend at home in its last outings by registering a pair of upsets against teams ranked 16 and 26 spots higher than them in the rankings at the time. The Gamecocks got the weekend started with a 4-3 victory over then-No. 27 Mississippi State and then followed with a 4-2 triumph over then-No. 17 Ole Miss two days later. South Carolina also defeated South Carolina State following the Ole Miss match by a 4-0 count. It marked the first time since 2009 that the Gamecocks defeated consecutive top-30 teams.
Meghan Blevins had a huge weekend for Carolina, posting a 2-0 record at No. 4 singles and a 2-0 mark at No. 2 doubles with Brigit Folland. She clinched the win over MSU as the last match on court with a straight set victory over Louise Ronaldson. Versus Ole Miss, Blevins broke a 2-2 tie with a 6-4, 7-6(2) victory over Erin Stephens to set up Hadley Berg for the clinching win on court five. Berg and Caroline Dailey had big weekends in doubles, going a perfect 3-0 at the No. 1 spot to help the Gamecocks win the doubles point in all three matches.
Blevins leads South Carolina in singles victories this season with a 23-7 record, while Dailey and Folland both have 20 wins apiece. In doubles, Folland is 29-6 as an individual, while Blevins is close behind at 26-7. Together, Blevins and Folland are 24-5 as the Gamecocks’ most productive duo.
The Gamecocks’ successful weekend also provided for big moves in the latest rankings this week. In addition to the team moving up 17 spots to No. 26, Elixane Lechemia jumped 24 places in the singles ratings to No. 50 thanks in large part to her win over then-No. 12 Julia Jones of Ole Miss. It is a career-high for Lechemia. Blevins and Folland shot up from 45th to 37th in doubles after another unbeaten weekend. Berg and Lechemia are listed at No. 73 in doubles, while Berg and Dailey are 75th.
Florida (16-1, 9-0 SEC) remains the only unbeaten team left in the SEC this season. The Gators are coming off a 4-3 victory at Texas A&M on Tuesday and snagged a pair of 5-2 wins from Mississippi State and Ole Miss last weekend. Florida boasts five players ranked in the top 50 and all six of its starters hold a national ranking (Brooke Austin – 5, Josie Kuhlman – 7, Brianna Morgan – 24, Kourtney Keegan – 37, Belinda Woolcock – 41, Peggy Porter – 112). The Gators have three ranked doubles teams as well (Austin/Keegan – 8, Kuhlman/Porter – 31, Spencer Liang/Woolcock – 54).
South Carolina will be looking to end one of the most impressive home winning streaks in all of NCAA Division I sports Saturday, as Florida has won 142 matches in a row at Ring Tennis Complex with its last loss coming May 15, 2004, to Miami (Fla.) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Additionally, the Gators have won 143 straight regular-season home matches with the last loss coming to Georgia on April 7, 2002. Overall, Florida is 477-25 at home and 196-1 at home against SEC competition.
The Gamecocks are back on the road for the final time in the regular season next week facing No. 10 Vanderbilt on Friday, April 3, and No. 18 Kentucky on Sunday, April 5.