April 20, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Coming off its biggest win of the season Sunday in Fayetteville, Ark., the South Carolina Men’s Tennis team will open SEC Tournament play on Thurs., April 21, at 10 a.m. with a rematch against sixth-seeded Arkansas. The Gamecocks (13-14, 4-8) come into the tournament as the No. 11 seed and winners of three of their last five contests.
The Gamecocks are hosting this year’s event at Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. The event began Wednesday with 13th-seeded Tennessee defeating No. 12-seeded Auburn in the opening round. Admission is free and parking is available in the Athletics Village Parking Garage located on Heyward Street. Carolina Tennis Center’s address is 1316 Heyward Street, Columbia, SC 29208.
Arkansas (19-7, 7-5) heads into the tournament after one of its most successful seasons in recent memory. The Razorbacks’ seven SEC wins this spring are more than the six the program claimed from 2010-2015.
Head Coach Josh Goffi: “We are looking forward to playing in the first round of the SEC Tournament on our home court. It’s definitely an advantage for us and in this particular situation it’s helpful because we are playing a highly-ranked Arkansas team, who we just beat and is going to be out for revenge. Hopefully playing at home levels out the revenge factor. We will definitely have to come out ready to go. As long as we come out of the gates hot, we will be in a position to do well, but they will definitely be hungry for the win so it will be a great match.”
Last Time Out
South Carolina closed its regular season with a bang, clawing out a 4-3 road win at then-No. 12 Arkansas on Sun., April 17, in Fayetteville, Ark. The Gamecocks fell in doubles, but fought their way back with singles wins on courts two, three, four and five to take the win. Junior Andrew Schafer delivered a gutsy performance down the stretch, forcing a third set at court two before earning a dramatic 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 win to clinch the match.
History in the SEC Tournament
South Carolina is 10-24 in SEC Tournament matches since joining the league in 1992 and advanced to the quarterfinals in two of the last three seasons. The Gamecocks have 10 quarterfinal appearances in all, including six in the last 11 seasons, and reached the semifinals once (1999). Carolina fell to No. 25 LSU in the second round of the tournament last season.
Moving up the Charts
With his singles victory last Friday at No. 32 Ole Miss, redshirt sophomore Harrison O’Keefe became the first Gamecock since 2002 to win 30 singles matches in an academic year. He captured another victory against then-No. 12 Arkansas on Sunday to earn his 31st victory of 2015-16, moving him into the top-20 of South Carolina’s single-season wins list for singles. The Salem, Va., native leads the team in singles (31) and doubles (17) wins, dual-match singles (18) and doubles (12) wins and SEC singles (8) wins this season.
Rising in the Rankings
As a team, South Carolina rose eight spots in the latest rankings to No. 50, matching its highest ranking this spring. Individually, redshirt sophomore Gabriel Friedrich has earned a career-best No. 58 ranking after his strong play down the stretch at the top of the lineup. The Gamecocks’ top doubles tandem of Friedrich and redshirt sophomore Harrison O’Keefe crashes the rankings at No. 67, becoming the third doubles unit to earn a ranking this spring.
Scouting No. 18 Arkansas
- Arkansas is 7-3 away from home this season.
- The trio of redshirt junior Mike Redlicki, junior Jose Salazar and senior Giammarco Micolani are 25-10 in SEC singles play.
- Ranked in singles: Mike Redlicki (25), Jose Salazar (72)
- R Ranked doubles tandems: Redlicki and Micolani (19)
With a win, South Carolina will take on No. 13 Texas A&M on Fri., April 22, at the Carolina Tennis Center at 10 a.m.