Jan. 15, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — University of South Carolina men’s tennis begins its 2016 spring season with a doubleheader on Sat., Jan 16. The Gamecocks, who enter the season ranked No. 50, will square off with the Presbyterian Blue Hose at 10 a.m. and the Winthrop Eagles at 4 p.m. Both matches will take place in the USC Field House.
After graduating three seniors from the 2015 squad, sixth-year South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi returns a talented young roster consisting of three juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen. Sophomore Harrison O’Keefe (No. 65) and junior Alex Fennell (No. 116) look to lead the way. O’Keefe was on pace to post one of the best freshman seasons in school history in 2015 before his season was cut short due to injury. He went 20-8 last season pre-injury and regained his form this fall going 13-4. Fennell, a transfer from Penn State, posted a 16-10 singles record as a freshman before winning 13 singles matches last spring for the Nittany Lions in the top third of the lineup.
A busy fall helped the Gamecocks build experience and develop as the team participated in seven tournaments, winning five individual titles, the program’s most fall titles since 1997-98. Sophomore Thomas Mayronne bounced back from a tough freshman season to earn 13 fall wins and ignite competition throughout the rest of the team as a result. Junior Andrew Schafer showed the consistency he displayed last spring when he led the team in SEC wins, going 12-4 this fall. After several roadblocks prevented him from competing in his first few semesters in Columbia, sophomore Gabriel Friedrich received his first collegiate action this fall and did not disappoint. He went 11-5 and won the USTA Clay Court Collegiate in October, defeating O’Keefe in the finals, which was broadcast internationally on ESPN3.
Admission and parking for all home tennis matches is free of charge.
Scouting the Presbyterian Blue Hose
Presbyterian brings a roster with six upperclassmen, led by first-year head coach Patrick Fediuk, who took over at the semester break. Presbyterian is looking to improve on last season’s 20-9 record that included a 4-4 mark in Big South play and a runner-up finish in the conference championship. Senior Danny Bruce headlines the returners. The team captain went 16-7 in singles last season to move himself into fourth on the school’s career wins list with 42. Juniors Diego Manzanas and Ben Kelley each won at least 15 matches last season for the Blue Hose.
Scouting the Winthrop Eagles
Jon Collins steps in as new head coach at Winthrop, a program coming off back-to-back Big South Tournament titles and a 15-9 season. The Eagles made their second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015, falling to Georgia in the first round, 4-0. A pair of seniors lead the way with Michael Chen (13-10) and Steven Patrick (9-14) hoping to take the next step to help the Eagles to a third-straight conference title. Behind the seniors, a combined six freshmen and sophomores fill out the roster. Sophomore Ruben Franzanti showed flashes as a freshman in 2015 on his way to an 8-10 singles record.
Following this weekend’s action, the Gamecocks will travel to Columbus, Ohio, to take part in the ITA Kickoff Weekend. The Gamecocks will take on No. 51 Denver on Sat., Jan. 23, followed by either 10th-ranked Ohio State or 69th-ranked Wichita State on Sun., Jan. 24.