Jan. 23, 2016
COLUMBUS, OHIO — Denver’s Diogo Rocha (No. 45) pulled out a tightly-contested third-set tiebreaker over junior Alex Fennell (No. 116) to clinch the match and give the Gamecocks their first loss of the season, 4-3, Saturday at the Varsity Tennis Center on the campus of Ohio State University. With the loss, No. 51 South Carolina falls to 2-1 on the season and wrap up ITA Kickoff Weekend against No. 71 Wichita State Sunday at 10 a.m.
Carolina jumped out in front of the 52nd-ranked Pioneers, taking the doubles points thanks to wins at one and two. After redshirt freshman Gabriel Friedrich and true freshman Yancy Dennis fell at No. 3, Fennell and teammate Thomas Mayronne scored a 7-5 win at No. 1 over the duo of Henry Craig and Alex Gasson to even doubles at 1-1. The attention turned to court two, where junior Sam Swank and sophomore Harrison O’Keefe secured a 6-4 win and put the Gamecocks in front early, 1-0.
Momentum shifted in singles as Denver pulled ahead with wins at five and three. Junior Andrew Schafer dropped a 6-3, 6-4 bout to David Fox, while Sam Swank fell 6-3, 6-2 to Alex Gasson. Trailing 2-1, the Gamecocks responded to their first deficit of the season as redshirt freshman Wood Benton closed out a 6-2, 6-4 triumph of Jessee Ruder-Hook at No. 6 to even the score at 2-2. At court two, 65th-ranked O’Keefe found himself in a battle with Denver’s Henry Craig. The two went toe-to-toe in the first set before Craig took the first-set tiebreak, 7-3. Craig would pull away for the win in the second set to reclaim the lead for the Pioneers at 3-2.
After splitting his first two sets, Mayronne looked to keep the Gamecocks alive in the third set. A back-and-forth affair eventually ended with Mayronne pulling out a 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (2) win to even the match at three. All eyes were now at No. 1 where Fennell had claimed a 7-4 tiebreak to send his match into the third set. He would, however, fall short in the third-set tiebreak, falling 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4).
Quoting Coach Josh Goffi
“Today, we ran into a good Denver team that was able to come out on top there at the end. Going into the match, our team knew that it was going to be tough not having our full lineup out there, but I’m very proud of our team for sticking around long enough to put us in a position to win the match. We came up a little short, but we believe good things are ahead for this team. We’ll need to recover quickly from the long matches because we’ll need to be in good form against Wichita State tomorrow.”
Trailing 1-0 after doubles, the Pioneers were able to flip the script as David Fox at No. 3 and Alex Gasson at No. 5 earned the first two singles wins to put Denver in front, 2-1. Henry Craig got a huge first-set tiebreak to win his first set, and eventually the match, against O’Keefe, and Diogo Rocha took the third-set tiebreaker 7-4 to give the Pioneers the 4-3 win.
- Redshirt freshman Gabriel Friedrich played for the first time this spring after knee surgery in October, receiving action in doubles.
- Junior Alex Fennell’s streak of seven-straight wins was snapped in his three set battle.
- Sophomore Thomas Mayronne is now 3-0 in 2016 and leads the team with 16 wins this season.
- Redshirt freshman Wood Benton has won ten of his last eleven matches dating back to the fall.
Following Sunday’s 10 a.m. match against No. 71 Wichita State, 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.