Feb. 4, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 55 South Carolina men’s tennis kicks off a stretch of six straight contests away from home with a trio of matches this weekend in the state of North Carolina. The Gamecocks first head to Winston-Salem, N.C., for a Friday matchup with No. 10 Wake Forest at 5 p.m., before travelling to Raleigh, N.C., Sunday to take on Bryant University at 9 a.m., and No. 32 NC State at 12:30 p.m. Carolina is 4-2 this season after sweeping a doubleheader last Saturday against No. 44 Georgia Tech and The Citadel in which the Garnet and Black took 11 singles matches.
Head Coach Josh Goffi: “It’s going to be a great weekend of competition for the boys, and from the week of practice that they just had, they are ready to take it on. As always, our goal is to keep this team moving forward, so we are going to lay it all on the line, let the chips fall where they may, and keep getting better.”
Sophomore Harrison O’Keefe was named the SEC Player of the Week, the league office announced Wednesday, helping Carolina to a pair of victories over No. 44 Georgia Tech and The Citadel last Saturday. A native of Salem, Va., his 7-5, 6-3 victory at No. 3 against the Yellow Jackets’ Michael Kay helped South Carolina erase a 2-0 deficit on its way to a 5-2 win. He went on to post a 6-1, 6-0 win at No. 2 against The Citadel as the Gamecocks earn their second sweep of the season. O’Keefe is 17-6 this season in singles, including 4-2 in dual matches. He also boasts a 4-2 doubles record this spring.
In the Rankings
The Gamecocks rose four spots this week to No. 55 in the Oracle/ITA Rankings. Individually, a pair of Gamecocks received rankings entering the spring season. O’Keefe earned a No. 65 ranking, while junior Alex Fennell, a transfer from Penn State, is ranked No. 116.
Scouting No. 10 Wake Forest
- The Demon Deacons are 5-1 this season. Last weekend, they fell to No. 25 Oklahoma State, 4-2, before upsetting No. 2 Oklahoma, 5-2.
- Sophomore Skander Mansouri received ACC Player of the Week honors this week after going 2-0 in singles against No. 25 Oklahoma State and No. 2 Oklahoma.
- Mansouri (No. 26) is one of three Demon Deacons ranked individually, along with senior Jonthan Ho (No. 103) and junior Maksim Kan (No. 110). Three doubles tandems are ranked: Mansouri and sophomore Christian Seraphim (No. 25), senior Romain Bogaerts and Kan (No. 27) and Ho and sophomore Keivon Tabrizi (No. 51).
- The Bulldogs, 3-3 on the season, took two of three matches at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, N.Y., last weekend against reigning MAAC champion Marist and UConn.
- Bryant has won back-to-back Northeast Conference championships, and sophomore Matt Kuhar won the NEC Rookie of the Year last season.
- Senior Max Vogt took All-NEC Second Team honors a year ago and earned All-NEC First Team honors in doubles with teammate Luke Lorenz. Also returning is sophomore Jorge Ortiz-Garcia, who won First-Team All-NEC honors following a 2-0 performance at the NEC Championships.
Scouting No. 32 NC State
- The Wolfpack has lost two-straight matches, both to ranked teams, entering the weekend after a 4-0 start that included a win over No. 35 Drake. It takes on Dartmouth in a home matchup on Friday.
- NC State has made a program-record four consecutive trips to the NCAA Championships after a 17-12 season in 2015.
- Doubles tandem Ian Dempster and Nick Horton are ranked No. 43 entering the season.
The Gamecocks get a week off before gearing up for another set of road matches, this time in Tampa, Fla. South Carolina will take on No. 13 South Florida on Fri., Feb. 19, at 2 p.m. and San Diego the next day at 2 p.m. The month of February concludes with a matchup at in-state rival, Clemson on Feb. 27.