April 2, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 45 South Carolina (12-11, 2-6 SEC) continues its SEC schedule on the road this weekend, traveling to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to take on No. 71 Alabama (14-14, 2-7 SEC) at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 3, and No. 26 Mississippi State (15-5, 6-2 SEC) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 5. The Gamecocks have battled injury all season long, but still find themselves in a position to make a run at the end of the year. This weekend will go a long way in determining where South Carolina sits at season’s end.
Coming off a weekend in which he set the Gamecocks’ all-time record for career doubles wins, senior Kyle Koch and his partner, fellow senior Thiago Pinheiro, will look to build momentum as the closing weeks of the schedule approach. Koch/Pinheiro (11-6 overall, 8-6 dual), make up the nation’s No. 31 doubles team and, in SEC play, have been pitted against three consecutive top-five opponents. The Gamecock duo pushed its counterparts to a tiebreak in two of those three matches. Koch/Pinheiro did earn a 6-1 win over The Citadel, giving Koch his place in the South Carolina record book. No. 56 Thomas Mayronne / Harrison O’Keefe enter the weekend having won five of their last seven matches, all of which have come out of the No. 2 position.
In singles play, Koch enters the weekend with a 21-10 overall record and a 12-6 (2-3 SEC) mark in dual matches. The majority of Koch’s spring season has been played out of the No. 2 slot, where he is 7-3 (2-1 SEC). O’Keefe, a freshman, has been one of the Gamecocks’ most consistent performers, out of the Nos. 4 and 5 positions. O’Keefe is 20-8 overall and 13-4 (3-1 SEC) in dual matches this season. Sophomore Andrew Schafer, another constant in the middle of the Gamecocks’ lineup, comes into the weekend boasting a 19-12 overall record and a 12-7 (4-2 SEC) slate in dual matches.
Alabama comes into the weekend at 14-14 (2-7 SEC), and, like the Gamecocks, split a doubleheader last weekend. No. 88 Korey Lovett has played every match out of the No. 1 sport for the Crimson Tide, amassing a 9-11 overall record. Sophomore Nikko Madregallejo, Alabama’s most consistent performer, has moved up and down the lineup throughout the season, playing three of his last four out of the No. 2 slot. In doubles, No. 29 Korey Lovett/Becker O’Shaughnessey lead the Crimson Tide and have played all but one match together this season. The duo is 10-6 overall and 4-3 in SEC play.
Mississippi State boasts a pair of ranked singles players in No. 108 Florian Lakat and No. 122 Tassilo Schmid. Lakat is 14-8 overall and 11-5 (3-3 SEC) in dual matches. He has held down the No. 1 slot for the Bulldogs all season. Schmid, who has played his last four matches out of the No. 4 position, is 8-12 overall and 4-9 (2-4 SEC) in dual matches.
After this weekend, South Carolina returns to Columbia, hosting No. 14 Ole Miss on Thu., April 9, at 5 p.m., and a doubleheader on Sat., April 11, against No. 58 Arkansas and South Carolina State set to begin at 11 a.m. All three of the weekend’s matches will take place at the Carolina Tennis Center.