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March 24, 2017


COLUMBIA, S.C. – The 26th-ranked South Carolina men’s tennis team posted its third-straight SEC win Friday evening with a 4-2 triumph over No. 41 Vanderbilt at Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. The Gamecocks improved to 15-4 and 4-2 in the SEC, while Vandy dropped to 10-10 and 1-6 in conference match-ups.

South Carolina snatched the early lead with a pair of wins on courts one and two in doubles. The Gamecocks’ Alex Fennell and Sam Swank dominated Pen Binet and Panu Virtanen at the second spot by a 6-2 score. Yancy Dennis and Harrison O’Keefe held a 5-2 lead at one when Fennell and Swank secured their victory, and the Gamecocks’ No. 47-ranked duo held on for a 6-3 victory to give Carolina the doubles point.

At three doubles, Gabriel Friedrich and Andrew Schafer fell behind the Commodores’ tandem of Baker Newman and Daniel Valent by as much as 5-1, however, South Carolina counter punched to close the margin to 5-3. When Dennis and O’Keefe snagged the doubles point, Friedrich and Schafer were a point away from cutting the deficit to one with a 40-0 lead in the ninth game.

Vanderbilt responded in singles by winning the first sets on courts 1-4. Valent knotted the score up at 1-all after he dispatched No. 88 O’Keefe 6-2, 6-3 at the No. 1 position. Ten minutes after his triumph, Friedrich served out his second set against Newman on court two to put all five remaining matches into third sets.

The Commodores blitzed the Gamecocks to open the third sets, taking 2-0 leads on courts 2-5. Fennell recovered from his 2-0 deficit to Virtanen at five, earning a big break of serve down 3-2 when Virtanen sent a forehand volley sailing beyond the baseline on game point at 40-40. Virtanen never recovered and Fennell went on to win the next three games to close out the match with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory that put the Gamecocks back on top 2-1.

Dennis added Carolina’s next point with a remarkable come-from-behind victory at four over McPhee. Down 3-0 to start the third, Dennis got the match back on serve at 3-all and then with the score knotted up at 4-all, he came out on the winning end of a furious net rally on game point to lead 5-4. He closed out the match with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory to pull the Gamecocks within a point of clinching.

After Vandy’s Rowe cut into South Carolina’s lead with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 win against Schafer on court three, Paul Jubb completed his impressive comeback at six. Jubb trailed Alex Ross 4-2 in the third before storming back to win four straight games for a 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 win. The win also moved Jubb to a perfect 7-0 this spring and 3-0 in SEC matches.

Friedrich had his match with Newman suspended at No. 2 singles once Jubb provided the winning Gamecock point. He led 4-2 in the third after losing the first set 6-4 and winning the second 6-1.

The Gamecocks are back at home Sunday hosting No. 23 Kentucky at 1 p.m. at Carolina Tennis Center.

#26 South Carolina def. #41 Vanderbilt, 4-2

1. Daniel Valent (VU) def. #88 Harrison O’Keefe (SC) 6-2, 6-3
2. #59 Gabriel Friedrich (SC) vs. Baker Newman (VU) 4-6, 6-1, 4-2 susp.
3. Billy Rowe (VU) def. Andrew Schafer (SC) 6-4, 1-6, 6-2
4. Yancy Dennis (SC) def. Lachlan McPhee (VU) 3-6, 6-1, 6-4
5. Alex Fennell (SC) def. Panu Virtanen (VU) 6-2, 4-6, 6-3
6. Paul Jubb (SC) def. Alex Ross (VU) 6-1, 3-6, 6-4

Order of Finish: 1, 5, 4, 3, 6

1. #47 Dennis/O’Keefe (SC) def. #39 McPhee/Rowe (VU) 6-3
2. Fennell/Sam Swank (SC) def. Pen Binet/Virtanen (VU) 6-2
3. Friedrich/Schafer (SC) vs. Newman/Valent (VU) 3-5 susp.

Order of Finish: 2, 1