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May 9, 2015

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The 29th-ranked South Carolina women’s tennis team defeated No. 45 Princeton Saturday, 4-3, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Sheridan Snyder Tennis Center in Charlottesville, Va. South Carolina improves to 15-10 with the victory, while the Tigers end the season at 12-9. The Gamecocks will now face regional host and No. 8-ranked Virginia on Sunday at noon with a trip to the NCAA Championships in Waco, Texas, over May 15-19 on the line.

South Carolina stormed out of the gates in taking the doubles point, which proved to be the difference in the contest. Elixane Lechemia and Ximena Siles Luna blitzed Emily Hahn and Katrine Steffensen at No. 3 doubles with an 8-1 victory, and No. 40-ranked Hadley Berg and Caroline Dailey defeated Lindsay Graff and Alanna Wolff, 8-4, at the top position to clinch the point.

The Gamecocks had a lead at No. 2 doubles as well with Meghan Blevins and Megen Cochran ahead 6-4 over Amanda Muliawan and Dorothy Tang when play was stopped since South Carolina had already won the point.

The Tigers responded in singles by taking the first set on five of the six matches. South Carolina, though, managed to push further ahead thanks to a dominant performance from Dailey at the two spot with her 6-3, 6-2 win over Muliawan. For Dailey, it was her 23rd singles victory of the season.

Princeton finally got on the board with Steffensen defeating Brigit Folland in straight sets at No. 4 singles, 6-3, 7-5. South Carolina, however, countered with Berg coming back from a set down versus Katie Goepel at six to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 to put the Gamecocks back on top by two, 3-1.

Despite the two-point lead, Princeton was still very much in the match and the Tigers ended up taking the next two courts that finished. First, Graff snagged the upset over No. 45 Lechemia atop the singles lineup with a 6-4, 7-6(7) decision to cut the deficit to one, 3-2. Then, Wolff pulled the match even, 3-all, with her straight set triumph over Blevins on court three, 7-6(5), 6-4.

All eyes switched to court five at that point, where Siles Luna had dropped the first set to Tang, 6-3, but recovered to win the second, 6-3. As Wolff downed Blevins, Siles Luna forged ahead of Tang by a 4-2 margin in the third set. From there, she never relinquished another game en route to a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory to propel the Gamecocks into the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

With today’s win, the Gamecocks have now won at least one round in the NCAA Tournament 18 times in their 21 consecutive appearances. South Carolina’s streak of 21 straight bids is tied for the 11th longest active streak in the country and their 25 overall appearances is 13th most in NCAA history.

#29 South Carolina def. #45 Princeton, 4-3

1. Lindsay Graff (PU) def. #45 Elixane Lechemia (SC), 6-4, 7-6(7)
2. #121 Caroline Dailey (SC) def. Amanda Muliawan (PU), 6-3, 6-2
3. Alanna Wolff (PU) def. Meghan Blevins (SC), 7-6(5), 6-4
4. Katrine Steffensen (PU) def. Brigit Folland (SC), 6-3, 7-5
5. Ximena Siles Luna (SC) def. Dorothy Tang (PU), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
6. Hadley Berg (SC) def. Katie Goepel (PU), 4-6, 6-2, 6-2

Order of Finish: 2, 4, 6, 1, 3, 5

1. #40 Berg/Dailey (SC) def. Graff/Wolff (PU), 8-4
2. Blevins/Megen Cochran (SC) vs. Muliawan/Tang (PU), 6-4 susp.
3. Lechemia/Siles Luna (SC) def. Emily Hahn/Steffensen (PU), 8-1

Order of Finish: 3, 1