Gamecocks Dominate with Wins Over Clemson and Charleston Southern
Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina women’s tennis took down rival Clemson 4-2 and Charleston Southern 6-1 on Sunday. Freshmen Misa Malkin and Sarah Hamner each clinched a match for the Gamecocks in the day’s action.
“Big day overall, obviously playing in-state rival Clemson is a big deal,” said head coach Kevin Epley. “There were some contested matches out there. It was pretty tough. We had enough kids step up at the end when we needed it and our competitors stepped up and got it done today and that was big.”
In the match against Clemson, South Carolina found its footing early in doubles. On court 1, Ayana Akli and Ana Cruz quickly got to work in their match against Eleni Louka and Jenna Thompson. The Gamecocks blanked the Tigers in the No. 2 spot to set the foundation for the doubles point.
In the No. 3 spot, Megan Davies and Gracie Mulville paired together for the first time this spring to take on Samantha Buyckx and Ali DeSpain. After starting out at an even 1-1, Davies and Mulville won three consecutive games and pushed forward to the 6-2 win to clinch the doubles point.
No. 39 Malkin and Hamner notably played a close match against their Clemson opponents. The pair came back from a 2-0 deficit to take the 5-3 lead before play was suspended.
In singles, No. 2 Hamner played an efficient match against No. 113 Cristina Mayorova. The two were neck-in-neck in the first set and Hamner tied things up 3-3. From there she won the next three games to earn the first set win. She brought that momentum with her into the second set to go up 2-0. Mayorova closed in 2-2, but Hamner was ready to earn the point. She bested her Tiger opponent in a 6-2 decision to give South Carolina the 2-0 lead.
Even with the South Carolina lead, Clemson was not ready to hold back. The Tigers got on the board with a straight-sets win on Court 6 and inched closer to closing the gap.
On Court 5, No. 109 Elise Mills found her stride in the second set of her match. After dropping the first set 6-2, Mills waxed DeSpain 6-0 in the second set to build the comeback. She went up 3-0 in the final set and eventually sealed the 6-2 win with a powerful serve that DeSpain dumped into the net. After Mills put the Gamecocks up 3-1, they only needed one more point to earn the win.
The Tigers continued to fight back with a point on Court 2. The remaining matches went into three sets each and came down to the decision in the No. 4 spot with Malkin.
Malkin found her strength early in her match against Daniella Medvedeva and won the first set 6-2. Medvedeva answered with an efficient 6-1 second set win, but the two were closely contested in the third set. After consistently catching up to one another, the match went into a third set tiebreak in which Malkin exploded.
She built an early lead and never fell behind, playing long rallies on every point. She hit a deep forehand that Medvedeva returned behind the baseline and Malkin clinched the match 4-2 for the second time this spring. Malkin’s success extended South Carolina’s winning streak over Clemson to eight and gave the Gamecocks their second win of the season.
In the No. 3 spot, Davies played a close match against Thompson. Davies earned a first set 7-6 (2) tiebreak win but Thompson came back to take the second set 6-4. The extremely close third set was at three games all when play was suspended.
Shortly after the match against Clemson, South Carolina faced Charleston Southern. The energy from the first win of the day carried into the second match as the doubles point was quickly secured. A 6-1 win from Akli and Cruz and a 6-2 win from Hamner and Lindsay Tulenko put South Carolina ahead going into singles play.
Junior No. 43 Akli played a short match against Madalina Man. The Gamecock newcomer earned an efficient 6-1, 6-2 win and put South Carolina ahead 2-0. This marked Akli’s first home win at South Carolina.
Not far behind was No. 109 Mills who continued to dominate on the day. She only gave up two games in her entire match to top Noa Boyd in a 6-2, 6-0 decision. Mills improved to 5-1 this spring and notched her first wins as a ranked singles player.
At the top of the lineup, No. 2 Hamner finished her match in similar fashion. She also only gave up two games to win 6-2, 6-0 and clinched the match for the Gamecocks at 4-0. Hamner’s clinch was her first of the season and helped South Carolina to a two match winning streak.
Play continued on the remaining courts and Charleston Southern earned one point at the bottom of the lineup. Freshman Chloe Narboni played a competitive match against Amila Jusufbegovic. The two split sets with the first going to Jusufbegovic 7-5 and the second going to Narboni 6-3. In the super tiebreak, Charleston Southern prevailed in a 1-0 (5) decision and secured its only point in the match.
Junior Cruz also split sets in her match against Khyanna Singh, dropping the first 6-3 and winning the second 6-4. The match went to a super tiebreak in which Cruz dominated to win 1-0 (2). She went perfect in singles on the day.
In the final match, Malkin played a close first set against Luiza Fullana that went to a tiebreak. After things were tied up 4-4, Malkin prevailed 7-6 (6) and hit her stride in the second set. She quickly won the second set 6-1 and earned the final point for South Carolina.
The Gamecocks are back in action on the road at Texas A&M on March 4 to start the SEC slate. Continue to check gamecocksonline.com and @gamecockwtennis for all schedule updates for South Carolina women’s tennis.
South Carolina def. Clemson 4-2
Doubles (Order of Finish: 3, 1*)
1. No. 39 Sarah Hamner / Misa Malkin (SC) vs. Daniella Medvedeva/Cristina Mayorova (CU) 5-3, unfinished
2. Ayana Akli/Ana Cruz (SC) def. Eleni Louka/Jenna Thompson (CU) 6-0
3. Megan Davies/Gracie Mulville (SC) def. Samantha Buyckx/Ali DeSpain (CU) 6-2
Singles (Order of Finish: 1, 6, 5, 2, 4*)
1. No. 2 Sarah Hamner (SC) def. No. 113 Cristina Mayorova (CU) 6-3, 6-2
2. Eleni Louka (CU) def. No. 43 Ayana Akli (SC) 7-6 (8-6), 6-4
3. Megan Davies (SC) vs. Jenna Thompson (CU) 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 3-4, unfinished
4. Misa Malkin (SC) def. Daniella Medvedeva (CU) 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (7-3)
5. No. 109 Elise Mills (SC) def. Ali DeSpain (CU) 2-6, 6-0, 6-2
6. Samantha Buyckx (CU) def. Gracie Mulville (SC) 6-3, 6-1
South Carolina def. Charleston Southern 6-1
Doubles (Order of Finish: 1, 3*)
1. Ayana Akli/Ana Cruz (SC) def. Zoe Cauthen/Tiffany Pyritz (CHS) 6-1
2. Elise Mills/Kendall Couch (SC) vs. Luiza Fullana/Laura Marti (CHS) 3-5, unfinished
3. Sarah Hamner/Lindsay Tulenko (SC) def. Khyanna Singh/Madalina Man (CSU) 6-2
Singles (Order of Finish: 2, 4, 1*, 6, 5, 3)
1. No. 2 Sarah Hamner (SC) def. Laura Marti (CHS) 6-2, 6-0
2. No. 43 Ayana Akli (SC) def. Madalina Man (CHS) 6-1, 6-2
3. Misa Malkin (SC) def. Luiza Fullana (CHS) 7-6 (8-6), 6-1
4. No. 109 Elise Mills (SC) def. Noa Boyd (CHS) 6-2, 6-0
5. Ana Cruz (SC) def. Khyanna Singh (CHS) 3-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-2)
6. Amila Jusufbegovic (CHS) def. Chloe Narboni (SC) 7-5, 3-6, 1-0 (10-5)
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