Gamecocks Punch Ticket to National Indoors
Columbia, S.C. – No. 13 South Carolina men’s tennis is headed to the ITA National Indoor Championships after taking down Duke 4-3 to close out ITA Kickoff Weekend action at Carolina Indoor Tennis Center Sunday. The Gamecocks walked it off in thrilling fashion with the decision coming down to the final match.
“What an amazing college tennis match,” said South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi. “Duke played very well today in singles and had us on the ropes for the majority of the match, but as we always say, ‘If you hang around long enough good things can happen’ – and they did! This is a great match for us to build from.”
The Gamecocks earned two ranked wins to secure the doubles point. Junior Jake Beasley and sophomore Toby Samuel earned the first win of the day with a dominant 6-1 win over No. 39 Andrew Zhang and Michael Heller of Duke. Junior Daniel Rodrigues and sophomore Connor Thomson clinched the doubles point with a ranked win of their own, defeating the nation’s No. 37 pair of Garrett Johns and Sean Sculley 6-2.
In singles, the two teams traded points back and fourth for a two and a half hour battle. The Blue Devils picked up the first singles point after Andrew Dale defeated Beasley in straight sets. Thomson answered back quickly for the Gamecocks, handling No. 38 Faris Khan 6-1, 6-2.
The Blue Devils responded with a win on Court 4 to tie the match at 2-2 before adding another point with a win on Court 6 to take the lead. Just the top two matches remained on court with both going three sets.
On Court 1, No. 29 Rodrigues got off to a slow start against No. 76 Johns, dropping the first set 6-0. The Gamecock veteran shook it off and battled for a 6-4 second-set win. In the third, Johns took a 2-1 lead before Rodrigues stormed through the next five games for a 6-2 victory that, again, leveled the team scoring.
All eyes turned to the No. 2 match between No.50 Samuel and Zhang. The Duke junior took the first set 6-4, but Samuel came out swinging in the second. He held the lead for much of the set but Zhang rallied back to force a tiebreak. The Gamecock sophomore initially fell behind in the tiebreak but fought back late and grabbed the 7-6 (7) victory to set up the deciding third set. Like Rodrigues on Court 1, Samuel turned a 1-2 deficit into a 6-2 victory in the third and send the Gamecocks to the National Indoor Championships.
With the win, South Carolina earned its second appearance at the event in the last three seasons. The National Team Indoor Championships will be in Seattle, WA, Feb. 18-21.
The Gamecocks will continue with regular-season matches until then, beginning on Fri., Feb. 4, when they host rival Clemson at 5 p.m.
For all the latest South Carolina men’s tennis information, continue to follow GamecocksOnline.com or the team on social media (@GamecockMTennis).
(13) South Carolina 4, Duke 3
Doubles (order of finish: 2, 1)
1. Rodrigues/Thomson (SC) def. (37) Johns/Sculley (Duke) 6-2
2. Beasley/Samuel (SC) def. (39) Zhang/Heller (Duke) 6-1
3. Story/Lambling (SC) vs. Khan/Vallabhaneni (Duke) 5-5 suspended
Singles (order of finish: 5, 3, 4, 6, 1, 2)
1. (29) Rodrigues (SC) def. (76) Johns (Duke) 0-6, 6-4, 6-2
2. (50) Samuel (SC) def. Zhang (Duke) 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-2
3. Thomson (SC) def. (38) Khan (Duke) 6-1, 6-2
4. C. Krug (Duke) def. Lambling (SC) 6-3, 7-5
5. Dale (Duke) def. Beasley (SC) 6-0, 6-4
6. Vallabhaneni (Duke) def. Story (SC) 7-6(4), 7-5