April 17, 2016
FAYETEVILLE, Ark. — South Carolina men’s tennis closed its regular season with a bang, clawing out a 4-3 road win at No. 12 Arkansas on Sunday at the Billingsley Tennis Center. The Gamecocks fell in doubles, but fought their way back to even the match at 3-3 before junior Andrew Schafer delivered a gutsy performance in a dramatic three-set victory at No. 2.
With the win, South Carolina (13-14, 4-8) heads into the SEC Tournament with a flurry of momentum having played its best tennis down the stretch with wins in three of its last five matches. Arkansas (19-7, 7-5) falls into a tie with Mississippi State for fourth in the SEC Standings.
The Gamecocks fell behind early as the Razorbacks took doubles with wins at No. 1 and No. 3. Carolina, however, responded in singles play as redshirt sophomore Harrison O’Keefe powered to a 6-0, 6-2 victory at No. 3, before junior Alex Fennell soared to a victory at No. 4 by the same score.
The Razorbacks regained the lead as No. 76 Jose Salazar took a hard-fought win at No. 1 over redshirt sophomore Gabriel Friedrich and junior Johan den Toom scratched out a tight 7-5, 6-4 win at No. 6 over redshirt freshman Wood Benton.
With his team trailing, 3-2, redshirt sophomore Thomas Mayronne fought his way to a strong 7-5, 6-4 win at No. 5 to even the match and claim his 14th win of the spring. With all eyes at No. 2, Schafer rallied after dropping his first set to pick up a tough 7-5 win in the second set and force a third. Tied at 4-4 in the deciding set, the South Carolina native broke serve and held his own to go on to win 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 and clinch South Carolina’s highest-ranked win since 2013.
Quotables: Head Coach Josh Goffi
“I’m proud of our guys for sticking it out and getting the win today, but I’m extremely proud of them for the way they did it. They left their hearts on the court, and that was the only way this team was going to get that win today. Alex Fennell and Harrison O’Keefe have been our steady points as of late, and they brought the heat early and didn’t let their opponents breathe once again today. Thomas Mayronne and Andrew Schafer have been battling all season and have been coming up short in the last few. It was so great to see them dig deep and grind those wins out. That’s huge for us going into the SEC Tournament.”
Straight-set victories on three singles courts allowed the Gamecocks to even the score at 3-3, and junior Andrew Schafer forced a third set at No. 2 where he would go on to capture a dramatic victory.
- The win is South Carolina’s first over a top-20 opponent since it won three-straight top-20 matches in the span of a week in April 2013.
- South Carolina has now won six-straight matches against the Razorbacks.
- This marks the Gamecocks’ third win of the season after dropping the doubles point with the others coming at then-No. 56 Vanderbilt and against then-No. 39 Georgia Tech.
- Redshirt sophomore Harrison O’Keefe moves into the top-20 of South Carolina’s single-season wins list for singles with 31.
- Junior Alex Fennell won a fourth-straight singles match and has won seven of his last nine while moving to 6-5 in SEC play.
- Junior Andrew Schafer broke a four-match skid against SEC opponents in singles play.
- Schafer’s win was just his second of the spring in which he dropped the first set and fourth of his career in dual-match play.
The Gamecocks look to continue its late-season surge when it hosts the 2016 SEC Men’s Tennis Tournament April 20-24 at the Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C.