Friedrich Set for NCAA Singles Championship Debut
May 24, 2016
TULSA, Okla. – Redshirt sophomore and 51st-ranked Gabriel Friedrich of the South Carolina men’s tennis team begins play in the 64-man NCAA Singles Championship Wed., May 25, at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla. He will square off against No. 30 Florian Lakat of the University of California in the First Round at 4:30 p.m. CT.
A Second-Team All-SEC selection, Friedrich has steadily climbed the individual rankings since March behind his 20-17 overall record. The Brazilian worked his way back into form following an injury in the fall to post an impressive 5-7 SEC mark at the top of the Gamecocks’ lineup in his first season of dual-match competition. Friedrich hit his stride during a month-long stretch in March and April when he won six of his nine decisions, including three against ranked foes. His team-high five wins over ranked opponents include one over No. 18 Arthur Rinderknech of Texas A&M, the team’s highest-ranked singles win of the season.
A junior ranked No. 30 in the nation, Lakat went 7-5 at No. 1 singles and 17-10 overall in his first season for the Golden Bears after transferring from Mississippi State, where he was an All-SEC selection both his freshman and sophomore seasons. With a win, Friedrich would meet the winner of Florida’s Diego Hidalgo and South Florida’s Dominic Cotrone, both of whom Friedrich has already seen this season. Hidalgo, Florida’s top player, narrowly topped Friedrich in Carolina’s regular season home finale, 6-4, 7-5, while Friedrich and Cotrone’s match was suspended in February after the Bulls clinched the team victory over the Gamecocks.
One of 17 SEC players selected for the event, the Gamecocks’ top singles player has faced 14 other competitors in the bracket, five of which are currently ranked among the nation’s top 25. In addition to his win over the nation’s No. 18-ranked player, Friedrich also took down Mississippi State’s Mate Cutura, who is ranked 34th in the nation, and Daniel Valent of Vanderbilt, currently No. 36.
South Carolina has placed a singles competitor or doubles team in each of the last five NCAA Individual Championships. Under head coach Josh Goffi, the Gamecocks have had an All-American in two of the last three seasons with Andrew Adams advancing to the Round of 16 in 2014 and Tsvetan Mihov doing the same in 2013. Last season, Kyle Koch and Thiago Pinheiro competed in the NCAA Doubles Championship, taking their opening match before bowing out in the Round of 16.
Information, including live scoring, on both men’s and women’s individual championships is available at www.TulsaHurricane.com.