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April 2, 2015

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — The 31st-ranked South Carolina women’s tennis team plays it final regular-season road matches of the season this week taking on No. 8 Vanderbilt on Friday at 5 p.m. in Nashville, Tenn., and No. 20 Kentucky on Sunday at noon in Lexington, Ky.

South Carolina (12-7, 4-5 SEC) suffered a 4-0 loss at then-No. 5 Florida on Saturday in its lone match last week. The Gators claimed the doubles point with an 8-2 victory on court one and received an 8-5 triumph at three to clinch it. UF then posted wins on courts one, three and six to earn the team victory and snap South Carolina’s three-match unbeaten streak.

Several Gamecocks moved up in the individual rankings last week with Elixane Lechemia making the biggest leap in singles by going from 74th to 50th. The No. 50 ranking is a career-high for Lechemia. In doubles, Meghan Blevins and Brigit Folland moved up eight spots from No. 45 to No. 37. They are Carolina’s most productive duo this season with a 24-5 record together.

Vanderbilt (13-5, 8-1 SEC) had a big weekend on the road, going 2-0 in the state of Alabama. The Commodores defeated then-No. 49 Auburn, 6-1, and upset then-No. 9 Alabama in a 4-3 thriller. After the ‘Dores dropped the doubles point and one singles match against the Crimson Tide, Vandy went on a four-match win streak with Marie Casares clinching the Commodore victory.

The Commodores own a 19-12 edge in the all-time series and have beaten the Gamecocks the past four times they have played. South Carolina suffered a 4-2 setback last season in Columbia and fell 6-1 the last time it visited Nashville. The Gamecocks last beat Vanderbilt in 2010 when they lost the doubles point but came back to win five of six in singles for the 5-2 victory. South Carolina also beat the Commodores 4-3 at home in 2008 in a thriller that took nearly 5.5 hours to complete. The Gamecocks’ last win in Nashville occurred March 13, 2005, when they upset the then-No. 5 Commodores, 5-2.

Kentucky (15-7, 6-3 SEC) opened last weekend with a 4-3 upset victory at Alabama. Its fourth upset victory of the season, UK defeated its highest ranked opponent of the year and handed UA its first home loss of the season. Two days later, UK suffered a 4-1 loss at Auburn. Facing their third ranked opponent in their last four matches, the Wildcats saw their four-match winning streak come to a close. UK lost just its second SEC road contest of the season.

South Carolina had a seven-match unbeaten streak against the Wildcats from 2009 to 2012 has won nine of the past 11 contests. Overall, the Gamecocks lead the series 19-15. The Gamecocks were 4-1 winners last season in Columbia, which marked a five-match SEC win streak for South Carolina at the time. Carolina took a 4-3 loss the last time it traveled to Lexington to face the Wildcats in 2013.

The Gamecocks are at home for their final regular-season matches next week against Tennessee on Friday, April 10, at 5 p.m. and No. 5 Georgia on Sunday, April 12, at 1 p.m. South Carolina then hosts the SEC Tournament over April 15-19 at Carolina Tennis Center.