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April 12, 2015

Photos | Recap | Schedule | Roster | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Gamecocks Host SEC Tournament



COLUMBIA, S.C. — The 26th-ranked South Carolina women’s tennis team ended the regular season with a 4-2 loss to No. 5 Georgia on Sunday at Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. The Gamecocks fell to 14-9 and 6-7 in the SEC with the loss, while the Bulldogs improved to 18-5 and 11-2 in the league.

Georgia struck quickly in doubles with No. 25 Silvia Garcia and Kennedy Shaffer taking No. 37 Meghan Blevins and Brigit Folland down by an 8-0 score at No. 2 doubles, but South Carolina managed to fight back on the other courts.

No. 58 Caroline Dailey and Hadley Berg held a 5-3 lead on No. 20 Silvia Garcia and Kennedy Shaffer at one, but the Bulldogs fought back to take the next four games for a 7-5 advantage. Berg and Dailey refused to give in and broke the Bulldogs in the next game and then Dailey held at love to force a tiebreaker. After the two teams split the first couple points, Dailey and Berg locked it down with six consecutive points in their favor to win 7-1 in the tiebreaker.

The No. 3 doubles match saw Carolina’s Elixane Lechemia and Megen Cochran take a 5-2 lead over Laura Patterson and Caroline Brinson, however, UGA recovered to win the next three games. Cochran had the serve at 5-all and after fighting off multiple game points, she managed to hold for a 6-5 advantage at the changeover. Lechemia had two match points on her serve after the Gamecocks broke the Bulldogs, but Patterson and Brinson were able to eventually get the break to stay alive. Cochran and Dailey stayed calm and broke Georgia in the next game to earn an 8-6 victory and a 1-0 lead for the Gamecocks heading to singles.

Georgia tied the match back up at 1-all after Hannah King defeated Natalie Looney, 6-1, 6-0, at six and No. 91 Garcia gave UGA the upper hand shortly afterward with 6-1, 6-0 victory of her own against Dailey at No. 2 singles. No. 110 Brinson pulled Georgia within a point of clinching after she dispatched Berg on court five, 7-5, 6-2.

When she finished, Blevins had a 5-3 lead in the third set over Mariana Gould at four, Folland trailed No. 69 Shaffer 2-1 in the third at three, and No. 60 Lechemia was tied 5-all in the second with No. 8 Herring after losing the first set. Lechemia fought her way through the next two games to win 7-5 to put all three remaining matches in a third set.

Gould ended up getting the lead, 6-5, but Blevins counter punched to force the set into a tiebreaker. The senior raced ahead 3-0 and never looked back en route to a 7-2 triumph to make the score 3-2. It marked her team-leading 26th victory of the season and she improved to 14-6 in dual matches.

As she finished, Lechemia took a 3-0 advantage in the third at one and Folland was looking to get back from a 4-3 deficit to Shaffer at three. Gould held serve to make it 5-3 and she got the break in the next game with Folland serving down 30-40 with a crosscourt backhand winner to snag the 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 final.

Lechemia’s match with Herring was abandoned with the team outcome decided with Herring about to serve trailing 3-0 in the third.

Prior to the match, seniors Blevins, Lechemia and Alex Martin were honored for Senior Day. Football coach Steve Spurrier was also on hand to hit the honorary first serve to get the match underway.

South Carolina will now get ready to host the SEC Tournament over April 15-19 at Carolina Tennis Center. The Gamecocks enter the tournament as the No. 7 seed and will face No. 10 seed Mississippi State on Thursday at 2 p.m. All 14 teams qualify for the tournament and admission is free.

#5 Georgia def. #26 South Carolina, 4-2

1. #60 Elixane Lechemia (SC) vs. #8 Lauren Herring (UGA), 2-6, 7-5, 3-0 susp.
2. #91 Silvia Garcia (UGA) def. Caroline Dailey (SC), 6-1, 6-0
3. #69 Kennedy Shaffer (UGA) def. Brigit Folland (SC), 6-3, 2-6, 6-3
4. Meghan Blevins (SC) def. Mariana Gould (UGA), 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(2)
5. #110 Caroline Brinson (UGA) def. Hadley Berg (SC), 7-5, 6-2
6. #82 Hannah King (UGA) def. Natalie Looney (SC), 6-1, 6-0

Order of Finish: 6, 2, 5, 4, 3

1. #58 Berg/Dailey (SC) def. #20 Herring/Ellen Perez (UGA), 8-7(1)
2. #25 Garcia/Shaffer (UGA) def. #37 Blevins/Folland (SC), 8-0
3. Megen Cochran/Lechemia (SC) def. Brinson/Laura Patterson (UGA), 8-6

Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3