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May 21, 2015

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WACO, Texas — Senior and 45th-ranked Elixane Lechemia of the South Carolina women’s tennis team lost to UCLA’s No. 21 Chanelle Van Nguyen in the first round of the NCAA Singles Championship at the Hurd Tennis Center in Waco, Texas, on Wednesday.

Lechemia earned a break of serve in the opening game of the match and then held for a 2-0 lead, but Van Nguyen countered with a hold and a break of her own to level the contest at 2-all. From there, Lechemia caught fire and won the ensuing four games to take the first set, 6-2.

Van Nguyen took a 3-1 lead in the second set and later held a 4-2 advantage, but Lechemia managed to keep herself down just a break to stay in contention. Leading 5-3, Van Nguyen had a chance to serve out the set and got to set point, but Lechemia got the break to put the match back on serve. The Gamecock senior then held serve to make it 5-all and followed with a break for a shot at serving out the contest. Lechemia took a 30-15 lead in the game following a well-placed backhand slice approach down the line, but Van Nguyen claimed the next three rallies to send the set into a tiebreaker.

Van Nguyen’s streak of points continued into the breaker as she raced out to a 3-0 advantage before Lechemia hit an off-forehand on a short ball for a winner to stop the bleeding. Unfortunately for Lechemia, the Bruin’s No. 2 singles player won three consecutive points afterward for a multitude of set points. Lechemia managed to save a couple, but the swirling wind did not do her any favors as she hit her second serve down 6-3 off the top of the tape and it landed in the wrong service box.

Less than a minute after the set ended, lightning struck within an eight-mile radius of the Hurd Tennis Center and by NCAA rules, play was forced to move inside to the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center.

Once play restarted inside, it was all Van Nguyen the rest of the way. She won six straight games to close out the match with a 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-0 final to advance to the second round where she will face No. 6 Julia Elbaba of Virginia on Thursday.

Lechemia finished her two-and-a-half-years as a Gamecock with a 47-27 record in singles. She earned first-team All-SEC honors in 2014 and was second-team All-SEC this past season. Lechemia is one of just nine Gamecocks in school history to play in both the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships over the course of a career.