April 17, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The 28th-ranked and seventh-seeded South Carolina women’s tennis team suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to No. 42 and 10th-seeded Mississippi State on Thursday in the second round of the SEC Tournament at the USC Field House in Columbia, S.C. The Gamecocks dropped to 14-10 on the season, while the Bulldogs improved to 15-10. MSU advances to the quarterfinals where it will face second-seeded and No. 6-ranked Georgia on Friday at 1 p.m.
The teams played indoors and began with singles because of misting rain outdoors. The Gamecocks struck first on court four with Meghan Blevins winning handily 6-1, 6-4 at No. 4 singles over Louise Ronaldson, but the Bulldogs answered fast with No. 35 Jasmine Lee upending No. 44 Lechemia 6-3, 6-2 on court one. Within minutes, MSU had a 2-1 advantage once No. 106 Georgina Patrasc defeated Brigit Folland 6-3, 6-3 at the No. 3 spot.
Carolina stormed right back with a timely win from Caroline Dailey at two singles. After falling behind 4-1 in the first set, Dailey fought back to take a 5-4 lead. Martina Frantova got the score back to 5-all, but Dailey held steady and took the first set, 7-5. After trading games back and forth to begin the second set, Dailey got a break to go ahead 4-2 and held on for the 6-4 victory in the second set to make the team score 2-all.
Ximena Siles Luna took Blevins’ court once she finished for her No. 5 match-up with Jennifer Brown, and Hadley Berg took Lechemia’s to face Timea Guibe for six singles. Siles Luna lost her first set to Brown, 6-3, but Berg charged ahead of Guibe to win 6-3 in the first at No. 6 to keep the match tight between the two squads.
Berg wasted no time taking the second set 6-1 to give Carolina a 3-2 advantage. Meanwhile at five, Siles Luna fell behind 4-2 in the second but managed to get the match back to 4-all with the serve. From there, the two traded breaks of serve until Brown held leading 6-5 to tie the match back up at 3-all.
The teams took a 10-minute intermission before beginning the doubles point to decide the match. Fitting, the doubles contests began with scores 2-2, 2-2 and 2-1 at positions 1-3.
At three, Lechemia and Megen Cochran pulled ahead 5-1 against Louise Ronaldson and Jennifer Brown, while Hadley Berg and Caroline Dailey recovered from a 3-2 deficit against Martina Frantova and Georgina Patrasc at one to go ahead 5-3 after Berg held serve. MSU recovered, though, to get the match back on serve at 5-all.
With court one tied, Blevins and Folland trailed at two by a 6-3 count, while Cochran and Lechemia had a sizeable 6-1 advantage at three. Cochran and Lechemia cruised through the rest of the match for an 8-1 win, while Blevins and Folland came out on the short end of an 8-4 decision to put the deciding match at No. 1 doubles.
Down 7-6, Dailey calmly held serve at love to force a tiebreaker. The Gamecocks fell behind 3-0 to start and never managed to get closer than 3-2, and Mississippi State pulled away for a 7-3 victory.
With the win, the Bulldogs snapped a 26-match losing streak to the Gamecocks. MSU’s last win over South Carolina was by a 5-4 margin March 19, 1989, in Columbia.
South Carolina will now await the NCAA Selection Show scheduled for 5 p.m. on NCAA.com on Tuesday, April 28. The Gamecocks have made 20 consecutive NCAA appearances.
#42 Mississippi State def. #28 South Carolina, 4-3
1. #35 Jasmine Lee (MSU) def. #44 Elixane Lechemia (SC), 6-3, 6-2
2. Caroline Dailey (SC) def. Martina Frantova (MSU), 7-5, 6-4
3. #106 Georgina Patrasc (MSU) def. Brigit Folland (SC), 6-3, 6-3
4. Meghan Blevins (SC) def. Louise Ronaldson (MSU), 6-1, 6-4
5. Jennifer Brown (MSU) def. Ximena Siles Luna (SC), 6-3, 7-5
6. Hadley Berg (SC) def. Timea Guibe (MSU), 6-3, 6-1
Order of Finish: 4, 1, 3, 2, 6, 5
1. Frantova/Patrasc (MSU) def. #40 Berg/Dailey (SC), 8-7(3)
2. Lee/Naomi Tran (MSU) def. #46 Blevins/Folland (SC), 8-4
3. Megen Cochran/Lechemia (SC) def. Ronaldson/Brown (MSU), 8-1
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1