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April 15, 2015

South Carolina Tournament Notes Get Acrobat Reader | SEC Tournament Central

2015 SEC Tournament

Location: Mitchell Tennis Center • College Station, Texas
First Opponent: No. 25 LSU • Thu., April 16 • 11 a.m. ET

South Carolina Notes

First Serve
South Carolina won three of its last four regular-season matches, including its SEC finale against Arkansas to move into the SEC Tournament’s No. 10 seed. Every Gamecock finished the regular season with a singles win with three putting together multiple victories down the stretch. Senior Thiago Pinheiro and sophomore Andrew Schafer are both riding four-match win streaks into the SEC Tournament, while senior Kyle Koch won his last two matches and seven of his last eight.

Gamecocks in the SEC Tournament South Carolina is 10-23 in SEC Tournament matches since joining the league in 1992 and advanced to the quarterfinals in each of the last two seasons. The Gamecocks have 10 quarterfinal appearances in all, including six in the last 10 seasons, and reached the semifinals once (1999).

Seeing Doubles The first point of the match sets the tone for the Gamecocks this season as South Carolina is 13-4 when winning the doubles point and just 0-10 when ceding the point to its opponent. (Doubles was not played in the two matches against SC State.) The Gamecocks’ top doubles team of seniors Kyle Koch and Thiago Pinheiro is ranked 29th in the nation this week, looking to hold or improve that position with an eye on making the NCAA Doubles Championship this season. The duo is 13-7 on the season, including a 10-7 mark in dual matches. They are 4-5 against ranked opponents, highlighted by a win over the then-No. 8 tandem from Texas A&M.

2K15 Kyle Koch has been one of the most active Gamecocks in program history, ranking among the best in matches played, and the senior is closing his career with a bang. His team-high 25 singles wins are a career high, while his 23 doubles victories, with three different partners, leads the team and is his best total since his freshman season (26). The increased numbers have come while Koch has played much higher in the lineup than his previous three seasons, which he spent mostly in the No. 5 spot. Koch holds program records in career doubles victories (90) and matches played (140); career dual-match doubles wins (64) and matches played (100); career SEC doubles wins (25) and matches played (45); and career SEC combined (singles and doubles) wins (48). The senior still has one individual goal in front of him as one of the program’s most prolific doubles players eyes a spot in his first NCAA Doubles Championship.

All As Coming off an All-America season as a junior, Andrew Adams looked to consolidate that title in his senior season. A knee injury derailed his winter training, however, and the Gamecocks’ top singles entry spent much of the spring learning how to re-tool his game to better suit his new physical limitations. The new game plan has clicked for him the last few weeks as Adams is playing his best tennis of the season. The turnaround began on the Gamecocks’ trip to Alabama and Mississippi State at the beginning of April. Adams did not post a result in either match, but he took both his nationally ranked opponents to tiebreaks in each of the three sets they completed. In his next SEC contest, Adams stretched then-No. 16 Nik Scholtz of Ole Miss to three sets after dropping the first 7-5. In all, head coach Josh Goffi’s first blue chip signee has won two of his last three outings. Despite injuries that limited him in two of his four seasons in Columbia, Adams ranks among the program’s top 10 in career dual-match singles wins (51) while playing in the top half of the lineup all four years.

Soaring Sophomore After earning SEC All-Freshman honors last season, Andrew Schafer has dismissed any thoughts of a sophomore slump. His 23 singles wins are second on the team and include a 16-8 mark in dual matches. Schafer has dominated the No. 4 spot in the lineup for the Gamecocks and has a team-best six SEC singles wins on the season. Schafer has also lifted his production in doubles this season, teaming with Andrew Adams as the Gamecocks’ formidable No. 3 tandem. The duo is 8-3 on the season, including a team-best five SEC victories.

Peaking Pinheiro Another senior critical to the Gamecocks’ rally down the stretch this season is Thiago Pinheiro. After a fall that included a dominant run to the round of 16 at the ITA Carolina Regional and a 4-1 showing at the Bulldog Scramble, Pinheiro returned to Brazil for a tournament that earned him the right to represent his country at this summer’s World University Games. Pinheiro opened this spring in the No. 1 spot in the singles lineup, but an injury robbed him of two weeks in the lineup and hampered him long after that. He is an emotional player with a contagious energy, so the Gamecocks go as Pinheiro goes. Luckily, the Brazilian, like Adams, is peaking again just when the team needs him most. Pinheiro’s seven dual-match wins this season include one in each of his last four matches and five in his last six outings. His work with Koch in doubles also has the Gamecocks poised for a strong finish.