Gamecocks to Starkville for 2020 ITA Kick-Off Weekend
TEMPE, Ariz. – The South Carolina men’s tennis team is headed to Starkville, Miss., for the 2020 ITA Kick-Off Weekend hosted from January 24 to 27, 2020, the ITA announced Thursday afternoon.
The competitors in Starkville include: host, No. 9 Mississippi State, No. 17 Oklahoma and No. 21 Georgia. In a Bulldog vs. Bulldog matchup, MSU and UGA compete as the 1 vs. 4, while the Sooners and No. 19 Carolina battle as the 2 vs. 3 match. The winners of each match will play for a chance to solidify a spot at the ITA Indoor National Championship.
Host sites for the ITA Kick-Off Weekend were determined using the final 2018-19 Oracle ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings. Carolina’s No. 19 finish in the final ITA poll is the program’s highest since 2013.
A familiar opponent for the Gamecocks, the Bulldogs lead the overall series between the two, 11-22. Both matches this season were close, with Carolina falling, 4-3, in the regular season and, 4-2, in the SEC Tournament semifinals. Mississippi State then went on to defeat Tennessee, 4-1, for the title.
This season, MSU tallied a record of 24-4, including a SEC mark of 11-1. In the NCAA Championship, the No. 7 Bulldogs made it out of the first and second rounds, but lost to No. 9-ranked TCU, 4-2, in the Round of 16. Mississippi State graduated four seniors this year, including No. 1-ranked and ITA National Player of the Year Nuno Borges, who Paul Jubb defeated for the NCAA Singles Championship title.
South Carolina and the Sooners have only met one time, with the Gamecocks coming out on top, 4-3, in 2005, in the NCAA Championship Regional.
Oklahoma went 17-11 in the 2018-19 season, including a Big 12 record of 1-4. Against SEC schools, OU had a mark of 1-2 this season. The Sooners first lost, 4-2, to Mississippi State and then, 4-3, opposite of Texas A&M. Getting a victory, No. 21 Oklahoma topped the No. 13 Aggies in the second round of the NCAA Championships, 4-3.
Bringing the SEC school total to three in Starkville, the Bulldogs hold a 37-7 series lead over South Carolina.
Overall, UGA put together a record of 14-11, going 7-5 in the SEC. During the regular season, the Bulldogs dropped their match to Mississippi State, 4-3, and beat the Gamecocks, 5-2. No. 21 Georgia did not make it out of the first weekend of the NCAA Championship, falling to No. 10 North Carolina, 4-1, in the second round.
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