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Gamecocks Upset No. 1 Tennessee
Men's Tennis  . 

Gamecocks Upset No. 1 Tennessee

Knoxville, Tenn. – No. 7 South Carolina Men’s Tennis upset No. 1 Tennessee in Knoxville in a thrilling 4-3 decision on Friday night. The Gamecocks dropped the doubles point but won four singles matches, headlined by a huge comeback by sophomore Connor Thomson, to secure the victory. The win marks the program’s first ever road win over a No. 1 ranked team and the second win over a No. 1 team in program history.
“Connor was down 6-0, 3-0 to his opponent, which is an insurmountable lead for the other guy,” said South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi. “Somehow, he stuck in. It’s what he does. It’s what we do. Super proud of the boys tonight.”
The doubles point went to the Volunteers with junior Raphael Lambling and sophomore James Story earning the Gamecocks’ lone doubles win. They won the first five games before allowing their opponent on the board. After dropping one game, the Gamecock duo responded with authority, taking the next game to secure the 6-1 victory.
The Volunteers won the match on Court 2 to even the doubles matches and push the decision to Court 1. At the top of the lineup, No. 30 duo Daniel Rodrigues and Thomson were taking on Tennessee’s No. 16 duo of Shunsuke Mitsui and Emile Hudd. The match was evenly contested. With the Gamecocks serving first and no breaks throughout, the match went to a tiebreak. South Carolina went down 0-3 to start the tiebreak and could not recover, losing the tiebreak 7-6 (2).
Already with the 1-0 lead, the Vols took the first singles win of the day on Court 6 to go up 2-0 early. Pat Harper of Tennessee defeated Jake Beasley 6-3, 6-2 for the Vol victory.
No. 86 Toby Samuel locked in the first point for the Gamecocks, upsetting No. 55 Hudd in straight sets on Court 2. The Gamecock sophomore was relentless, securing break points and never trailing in the match. After a 6-4 first set, he went up 3-0 in the second set before allowing his opponent a game. Samuel responded by winning three straight games to take the second set 6-1.
The next match went to Tennessee. In a rematch of their match during the ITA Indoor National Championships, Story and Mitsui faced off on Court 5. The match was even to start with no break points through the first eight games. Tied at 4-4, Mitsui earned a break and went on to take the first set 6-4. Mitsui was dominant in the second set, going up 3-0 before Story got on the board winning three of thee next four games to pull within a game at 3-4. Mitsui fought off the rally, though, taking the match with a 6-3 second set and giving the Vols a 3-1 lead.
With the Vols needing just one more win to claim the team victory, Lambling held them off. The junior dominated Martim Prata in a 6-2, 6-3 decision that made it a 3-2 margin for Tennessee.
At the top of the lineup, No. 16 Rodrigues evened the match at 3-3 with his straight-set win. Facing No. 18 Adam Walton, Rodrigues fell behind 0-2 early. The Gamecock junior fought back to win the next games and take the first set 6-2. The second set started off the same way with an 0-2 start followed by a rally. With Rodrigues up 3-2, Walton reclaimed the lead and stretched it to 5-3 on the verge of leveling the match. A big-match veteran, Rodrigues still had one more run left, claiming the next four game wins to take the second set 7-5 and the match.
With the team score even at 3-3, all eyes were on Court 3 where Thomson was making a huge comeback. Angel Diaz stormed through the first set 6-0 and jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second, but Thomson refused to yield. The resilient sophomore broke through in the fourth game and one game later rattled off four straight games to take a 5-4 lead. Diaz leveled the set, but the Gamecock sophomore had another service break in him to claim the second set 7-5. The third set started with Diaz serving and neither player ceding a service game into a tiebreak that would decide it all.
Diaz served first in the tiebreak and went up 1-0 to start. Thomson served next but Diaz called the ball out. The match official overruled call. It was the officials fourth overrule of Diaz in the match, which in accordance with the ITA Point Penalty System resulted in a game penalty, giving the victory to Thomson and the Gamecocks, their first over Tennessee since 2017. The victory broke Tennessee’s 30-match home winning streak.
“I’d do anything for this program,” said Thomson. “It means so much for me to help elevate this program. Josh (Goffi) gave me the opportunity to come here, and (this win) wasn’t about me. It was about the other guys. It was about Josh, it was about Drew (Adams) and lifting South Carolina up. I couldn’t be prouder of all of the guys. I was just a little part in that. Something we pride ourselves on is that we fight. Today was my day. Today was the team’s day. Couldn’t be any happier.”
Friday’s win over the No. 1 Vols was South Carolina’s first ever true road win over the nation’s top-ranked team. The Gamecocks’ last win over a No. 1 ranked team was a 5-3 victory in on Feb. 24, 1989, over UCLA in Louisville, Ky., during the ITA Indoor Championships.
The Gamecocks will continue their road trip, heading to another top-10 opponent on Sunday. They will play No. 8 Georgia in Athens with first serve 1:00 p.m. Live stat and streaming links are available on
For all the latest South Carolina men’s tennis information, continue to follow or the team on social media (@GamecockMTennis).
(7) South Carolina 4, (1) Tennessee 3
Doubles (order of finish: 3, 2, 1)
1. (16) Mitsui/Hudd (UT) def. (30) Rodrigues/Thomson (SC) 7-6(2)
2. (45) Walton/Harper (UT) def. (53) Beasley/Samuel (SC) 6-3
3. Story/Lambling (SC) def. Diaz/Wallner 6-1
Singles (order of finish: 6, 2, 5, 4, 1, 3)
1. (16) Rodrigues (SC) def. (18) Walton (UT) 6-2. 7-5
2. (86) Samuel (SC) def. (55) Hudd (UT) 6-4, 6-1
3. Thomson (SC) def. Diaz (UT) 0-6, 7-5, 7-6 (1)
4. Lambling (SC) def. Prata (UT) 6-2, 6-3
5. Mitsui (UT) def. Story (SC) 6-4, 6-3
6. Harper (UT) def. Beasley (SC) 6-3, 6-2