Jan. 22, 2016
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The South Carolina men’s tennis team travels to Columbus, Ohio, to take part in the 2016 ITA Kickoff Weekend Jan. 23-24. The No. 51 Gamecocks will square off with No. 52 Denver Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Varsity Indoor Tennis Center on the campus of Ohio State. No. 9 Ohio State and No. 71 Wichita State will take the courts Saturday morning with the winners from Saturday’s action to meet Sunday at 1 p.m. The winner of Sunday’s championship match will qualify for the national indoor tournament in Charlottesville, Va., Feb. 12-15, while the losers from Saturday’s contests will compete in a consolation match Sunday at 10 a.m.
South Carolina got off to a strong start last weekend, opening with a doubleheader sweep of Presbyterian and Winthrop. The Gamecocks jumped on the Blue Hose early on their way to a 7-0 win, while their effort in a 6-1 victory against Winthrop was just as impressive. Junior Alex Fennell (No. 116) and sophomore Harrison O’Keefe (No. 65) led the way from the top two spots in the lineup. They have a combined singles record of 28-7 dating back to the fall, including a 4-0 mark to open the spring.
Head Coach Josh Goffi: “The competition level this weekend will be a great barometer for us. We are looking forward to competing hard this weekend to get a true sense of what this team is capable of.”
Scouting No. 52 Denver
Denver’s matchup with South Carolina marks the Pioneers’ first match of the spring season. The No. 52 Pioneers provide quite the contrast to South Carolina’s mostly-green roster, boasting five upperclassmen on the roster that return following back-to-back Summit League Regular-Season and Tournament Titles. Junior Diego Rocha is ranked No. 45 nationally in singles, while teammates Henry Craig and Alex Gasson are ranked No. 11 in doubles following a trip to the Round of 16 at the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Rocha is ranked as the top singles player in the Mountain Region, while Craig is ranked No. 2.
Scouting No. 9 Ohio State
The ninth-ranked Buckeyes opened their 2016 campaign with a triple-header sweep of Dayton, Butler and Xavier, all by the score of 4-0. Ohio State features four players ranked in the Top 25 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” sophomore Mikael Torpegaard (7), redshirt freshman Hugo Di Feo (10), senior Chris Diaz (19) and junior Herkko Pollanen (25) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” and is the only program in the country with two players ranked in the top 10. The Buckeyes compiled a 27-9 record last season, including a share of the B1G Regular-Season Title for the 10th-straight year, on their way to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament where they were knocked off by No. 5 Texas A&M, 4-3.
Scouting No. 71 Wichita State
The Shockers enter the spring 3-0 after three dual match wins to close their fall season over Seminole State, McPherson and Cowley. Wichita State returns five players from a squad that went 19-7 last season and was a Missouri Valley Conference Tournament finalist. Senior Tim Ostojic is the team’s top returner after going 22-9 at the top of the lineup last season on his way to a No. 49 singles ranking. Sophomore Miroslav Herzan and freshman Haru Inoue combine to form the nation’s 34th-ranked doubles tandem.
No. 51 South Carolina returns home for a doubleheader on Sat., Jan. 30. The Gamecocks welcome 42nd-ranked Georgia Tech for a 12 p.m. matchup before taking on The Citadel at 6 p.m. The first matchup will be played at the Carolina Tennis Center, weather abiding, while the evening matchup will take place inside the USC Field House.