Jan. 17, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — University of South Carolina women’s tennis kicked off its 2016 slate by earning a pair of wins Sunday at the USC Field House. The No. 28 Gamecocks began the day with a 6-1 win over No. 73 South Alabama, before powering past Furman, 7-0.
The day began with the morning session against South Alabama. In doubles, the Gamecocks struck first with a 6-1 win by junior Brigit Folland and freshman Rachel Rohrabacher over the duo of Paula Sanchez and Monica Mitta. The contests at courts one and two, however, were more tightly contested. At No. 1, sophomore Hadley Berg and junior Caroline Dailey trailed 2-1 to Laura Valkova and Michaela Meszarosova before working their way back to a 5-3 advantage. Their match would be suspended as freshmen Paige Cline and Ingrid Gamarra Martins fought their way to a 6-4 victory over Alexandria Stiteler and Cinta Maria Papke at court two to give the Gamecocks the point.
As singles action began, Folland (No. 3) and Martins (No. 4) took quick control of their matches, cruising to 6-0 wins in their first sets. At court one, Cline fell behind 0-2 before coming back to land a 7-5 win in the first set. A court over, Dailey dug herself out of a hole with her powerful forehand to knot the match at five, but couldn’t complete the comeback, dropping her first set 7-5. Martins would finish off Papke, 6-0, 6-3, while Folland closed out Mitta by the same score. Cline coasted in her second set to get the 7-5, 6-2 win over freshman Alexandria Stiteler. Dailey came back to win the second set, but fell in the third-set tiebreaker, 10-7, to No. 86 Laura Valkova.
In the second match of the doubleheader, South Carolina took the 1-0 lead after doubles. Dailey and Gamarra Martins beat teammates Ansley Speaks and Katarina Weymouth (6-2) at No. 1 and Cochran and Rohrabacher stifled the duo of Harper Caswell and Karlee Bryde (6-3) at No. 3.
Gamarra Martins again displayed her impressive serve, this time in singles, cruising past Bryde (6-2, 6-2) at No. 4. Folland and Cline weren’t far behind as they posted impressive wins. Folland defeated Monica Mitta (6-0, 6-3) at No. 3, while Cline topped Ansley Speaks (6-2, 6-1) at No. 1. Dailey trailed in each of her two sets, but rallied to pull out a win in what was a barnburner, 7-6 (6), 7-5. Berg and freshman Rachel Rohrabacher would close out the sweep with solid wins. Berg shut out freshman Gabby Rodriguez, 6-0, 6-0, while Rohrabacher claimed her first dual match win, 6-3, 6-2, over Caswell.
Quoting Coach Kevin Epley
“Overall, we’re pretty happy with today. It’s always a question mark when it’s the first match of the season and you’re going out there with a lot of freshmen and several girls that are recovering from injuries. We were anxious to get out there and see what we had, and they really rose to the challenge. I’m real proud of the freshmen. I thought they played well in particular, and some of the veterans played pretty well too. Hadley (Berg) was great. She’s playing her game finally and doing what we wanted to see her do. Brigit (Folland) was solid down the stretch. Paige (Cline) is something else. She’s feisty. It’s good to see that. It feels like our competitive spirit is a little bit more together this year. I was real pleased with today overall.”
Match Changer: South Alabama
After trailing 2-0 at court one in the first set to freshman Alexandria Stiteler, freshman Paige Cline battled back to take a 3-2 lead. Up 4-3, she held serve by winning the deuce point to go up 5-3, but Stiteler evened the match at 5-5. Cline took the next two points, winning the first set and eventually the match, 7-5, 6-2.
Match Changer: Furman
The three and four positions in the lineup were strong for the second-straight match, particularly in the first set. Folland won her first set, 6-0, at No. 3, while Gamarra Martins won hers, 6-2, on No. 4 as each went on to win in straight sets and put the Gamecocks in front 3-0.
- The Gamecocks played with a lineup in which they essentially replaced their two seniors from last year with a pair of freshmen, both of whom entered 2016 ranked.
- Freshman Paige Cline opened the spring with a pair of wins at the No. 1 position. Her No. 43 ranking is the highest for a Gamecock freshman to start the spring since South Carolina joined the SEC.
- Freshman Ingrid Gamarra Martins, ranked No. 54, backed up her ranking with wins of 6-0, 6-3 and 6-2, 6-2.
- Two Gamecocks received their first action of 2015-16; senior Ximena Siles Luna is 1-0 on the season after a 6-0, 6-1 win against South Alabama, and junior Caroline Dailey split her matches at the No. 2 position.
- In her opener, Brigit Folland won nine-straight games to begin the match. She went on to win 6-0, 6-3 and won her second match by the same score.
The Gamecocks hosts their second doubleheader on Sat., Jan. 23. South Carolina will square off with the College of Charleston at 10 a.m. and Coastal Carolina at 3 p.m., before traveling for a road date with seventh-ranked Virginia on Jan. 29.