COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 50 South Carolina men’s tennis opened its spring season 2-0 after a pair of wins Saturday at the USC Field House. The Gamecocks swept Presbyterian College 7-0 in the morning session and followed with a 6-1 win over Winthrop in the afternoon.
The Gamecocks, who didn’t drop a set against Presbyterian, came ready to play right from the start as they took the doubles point with a 3-0 sweep. Juniors Alex Fennell and Thomas Mayronne downed Joel Roberts and Ben Kelley, 6-2, at No. 1. At No. 2, the duo of sophomore Harrison O’Keefe and junior Sam Swank defeated Brandon Mills and Danny Bruce, 6-4, just as freshmen Yancy Dennis and Wood Benton earned a 6-2 victory over Diego Manzanas and Alexander Lykou.
In singles, South Carolina took a commanding lead quickly as all four courts won their first sets in impressive fashion. Junior Andrew Schafer was the first to claim victory as he seized a 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 3 over Bejar. Fennell, ranked 116th, defeated Bruce (6-0, 6-2) at No. 1, while 65th-ranked O’Keefe beat Lykou (6-2, 6-0) at No. 2 to clinch the win for the Gamecocks. Mayronne closed out Manzanas (6-1, 6-2) at No. 4, while Swank rallied in both sets to top Roberts (6-3, 6-4) and Benton took down Kelley (6-0, 6-2).
Carolina took on Winthrop in the afternoon and the Eagles jumped to early leads in doubles at courts one and two. It was the Gamecocks’ freshman duo of Benton and Dennis at No. 3 that helped shift the momentum, charging to a 6-0 victory over Diego Quiroz and Joshua Ryan. At No. 2, O’Keefe and Swank were able to flip the script and claim a 6-3 win over Michael Chen and Ruy Teixeira to win the doubles point.
With a 1-0 lead, the Gamecocks left the sixth-position in the lineup blank, forfeiting a point, and sliding Benton and Dennis up to No 4 and 5 in the lineup. It was Mayronne and O’Keefe first to earn wins as Mayronne beat Steven Patrick, 6-2, 6-2, while O’Keefe topped Tremayne Mitchell, 6-1, 6-0. Fennell was able to close out a tough first-set tiebreaker, 7-4, and take the match from Quiroz, 7-6 (4), 6-2 to give the Gamecocks the win. Benton, who dropped his first set and became ill in the third set, managed to put up another point for the Gamecocks with a courageous 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Michael Chen. Dennis closed out the day with his first dual match victory in a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Ruy Teixeira.
Quoting Coach Josh Goffi
” Overall it was a great day for us. We accomplished what we set out to accomplish and I got to see what I needed to see moving forward. That’s what today was all about – taking care of us. We are playing good tennis. Every guy is playing good tennis, and there is a lot of confidence within the team. The best thing about it is I know what we are bringing to the table every day. We know where our team is, and we know the product we are going to put on the court.
We are really looking forward to getting up there and playing Denver in Columbus next week. It’s our first chance to play against a team that has a deep, experienced lineup. They have a roster full of seniors and juniors. It’s going to be a great early test for us.”
Match Changer: Presbyterian
The Gamecocks jumped out to a fast start, taking the doubles points with wins at all three courts. In singles, junior Andrew Schafer made sure the Gamecocks held on to the momentum, defeating Alejandro Bejar at No. 3, 6-0, 6-0.
Match Changer: Winthrop
With the Gamecocks up 1-0 against Winthrop and two singles matches in firm control, junior Alex Fennell won a first-set tiebreaker, 7-4, propelling him to a straight-set win and the match-clinching fourth point.
- South Carolina did not drop a set in its opener vs. Presbyterian and only dropped one set against Winthrop.
- Seven Gamecocks have double-digit wins going back to the fall.
- Junior Andrew Schafer now has a career singles record of 63-28.
- Junior Alex Fennell (No. 116) has won seven-straight wins dating back to the fall.
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.