April 11, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The 26th-ranked South Carolina women’s tennis team outlasted No. 66 Tennessee, 4-3, on Friday night in Columbia, S.C., in a match that lasted almost seven hours and featured a change of venue after doubles due to thunderstorms. The Gamecocks improved to 14-8 and 6-6 in the SEC with the win, while the Volunteers dipped to 11-13 and 3-9 in the league.
Play began outside at Carolina Tennis Center with doubles, but just as singles got underway, thunderstorms rolled into Columbia. The teams waited for 30 minutes before deciding to take the remainder of the match indoors to the USC Field House.
South Carolina lost the doubles point after winning court three handily by an 8-3 count. Elixane Lechemia and Ximena Siles Luna jumped out to a 4-1 lead on Tiffany Tavares and Victoria Olivarez and never looked back. As they finished, the Volunteers had leads on both courts one and two.
After falling behind 3-0 to No. 38 Joanna Henderson and Caitlyn Williams at one, Hadley Berg and Caroline Dailey recovered to eventually take a 6-5 lead. UT got the score back to 6-all and then held serve to make it 7-6. The Volunteers then broke Berg’s serve to earn the 8-6 victory.
At two, No. 37 Brigit Folland and Meghan Blevins led Laurence Guevremont and Eve Repic 5-2, but the Volunteers fought back to win five straight games for a 7-5 advantage. Blevins held serve and then after UT raced out to a 40-0 advantage in the next game, the Gamecock duo managed to get the game to deuce. Blevins and Folland got the ad after the first deuce, but Tennessee countered and eventually took the match on the third deuce for an 8-6 triumph and a 1-0 lead heading to singles.
After a delay of 1 hour and 12 minutes in moving outdoors to indoors, play resumed with singles at 7:30 p.m. No. 60 Lechemia raced out to a 6-1 victory in her first set versus No. 96 Henderson at one and then took command after leading 4-3 in the second to close the match out 6-3 to improve to 14-8 and 11-7 at No. 1 singles. She also improved to 6-5 in SEC play at one in helping the Gamecocks tie the match up 1-1.
Blevins pushed South Carolina ahead 2-1 after grinding out a 6-4, 6-2 win against Olivarez on court four. It marked her team-leading 25th win of the season while moving her to 13-6 in dual matches. She also leads the team in dual match victories for SEC play with seven.
UT tied the match back up after Repic came back from a 5-1 deficit in the third set against Dailey to win 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(3). When her match finished, Folland was down 3-1 in the third against Williams at three, Berg had a 6-2, 4-0 lead on Tavares at six and Siles Luna led Guevremont 6-5 in the first set.
Berg ended up finishing off Tavares 6-2, 6-1 to give the Gamecocks a 3-2 lead. Siles Luna won her first set in a tiebreaker against Guevremont 7-2 at five and Folland still trailed Williams 4-3 in the third at three. Eventually, Folland pushed it to 5-all, but Williams gutted out the 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-5 win to put the deciding match on court five between Siles Luna and Guevremont.
Siles Luna had a 4-2 advantage in the second after winning the first in a tiebreaker once all eyes turned to her match. Guevremont then found a groove and went on a tear with three straight games in her favor. Siles Luna stopped the bleeding to make it 5-all and the set ended up in another tiebreaker. After falling behind 3-1, Siles Luna refocused and kept her composure, ripping off six consecutive points to take the match 7-6(2), 7-6(3).
With the victory, South Carolina snapped a five-match losing streak to the Volunteers and earned its first win against Tennessee in Columbia since 2002.
The Gamecocks will now host No. 5 Georgia on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Carolina Tennis Center. South Carolina will honor seniors Lechemia, Blevins and Alex Martin prior to the match, and football coach Steve Spurrier will be on hand to hit the honorary first serve.
#26 South Carolina def. #66 Tennessee, 4-3
1. #60 Elixane Lechemia (SC) def. #96 Joanna Henderson (UT), 6-1, 6-3
2. Eve Repic (UT) def. Caroline Dailey (SC), 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(3)
3. Caitlyn Williams (UT) def. Brigit Folland (SC), 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-5
4. Meghan Blevins (SC) def. Victoria Olivarez (UT), 6-4, 6-2
5. Ximena Siles Luna (SC) def. Laurence Guevremont (UT), 7-6(2), 7-6(3)
6. Hadley Berg (SC) def. Tiffany Tavares (UT), 6-2, 6-1
Order of Finish: 1, 4, 2, 6, 3, 5
1. #38 Henderson/Williams (UT) def. #58 Berg/Dailey (SC), 8-6
2. Guevremont/Repic (UT) def. #37 Blevins/Folland (SC), 8-6
3. Lechemia/Siles Luna (SC) def. Olivarez/Tavares (UT), 8-3
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2