Gamecocks to Travel to Charlottesville for NCAA Championships
COLUMBIA, S.C.- South Carolina men’s tennis earned a bid to the NCAA Championships for the 25th time in program history and the sixth time under head coach Josh Goffi. Ranked 17th in the nation last week, the Gamecocks (17-9, 5-7 SEC) will play ETSU in first-round action at 10 a.m. on Fri., May 3, while the other Charlottesville match features host and fifth-ranked Virginia against Saint John’s.
South Carolina bounced back from a tough finish to the regular season with a run to the SEC Tournament semifinals for the first time since 1999. The surge included a win over then-No. 11 Texas A&M. A pair of Gamecocks are ranked in singles with junior Paul Jubb coming in at No. 4 in the nation, matching the highest rank in program history. No. 92 Daniel Rodrigues earned a spot on the SEC All-Tournament Team with a pair of three-set wins last week. South Carolina’s top doubles team of Rodrigues and fellow freshman Raphael Lambling is currently ranked No. 56 in the country after a 2-1 mark in SEC Tournament play, including a win over the nation’s No. 3 duo.
“Right now we’re showing where we’re peaking a little bit,” Goffi said. “I like the way we’re racing at the top spots, and practice has been off the charts. But match day is different … anything can happen, and we’ll adjust. These guys are learning to adjust on the fly and not panic, just adapt and take what’s coming. We’ll go into the first match, then pick up the pieces and go to the next match, if we’re lucky enough to get there.”
ETSU earned its spot in the NCAA Championships with a Southern Conference Tournament title that pushed it to a 20-4 record on the season. Virginia is the No. 5 overall seed in the event with a 21-4 overall record and a 10-2 mark in the ACC. Saint John’s is 19-5 on the season after winning the Big East Tournament title.
The Gamecocks are one of 10 SEC teams to make the 2019 NCAA Championships field, including four who will host the opening rounds of the event. Hosts Florida, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M join South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt in the field.
Goffi has led the Gamecocks to a pair of three-season streaks in the NCAA Championships, including this season. In their last two seasons in the event, South Carolina advanced to the second round. The Gamecocks have reached the round of 16 11 times in program history with the most recent coming in 2004-05. South Carolina’s best NCAA Championship finish came with a spot in the semifinals in 1989.
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