Three Ranked Singles Wins Earn Gamecocks a Top-15 Victory
Columbia, S.C. – No. 10 South Carolina men’s tennis defeated No. 12 Kentucky 4-3 in a Sunday matinee. The Gamecocks took the doubles point and earned three ranked singles wins to secure the victory.
“It was a good win today, it was a good weekend overall,” said head coach Josh Goffi. “Our guys were pretty much on point the whole way. We had a slow start today in doubles, mainly due to Kentucky – they started very well. Very proud of our guys, they stopped the skids there early enough to be able to regroup and get the doubles point for us. We got off to pretty good leads everywhere in singles. Overall, Kentucky is a well-coached, very, very good team and we were fortunate to get the win today. The guys brought the grit and it payed off.”
The slow start in doubles was present on all courts, but junior Raphael Lambling and sophomore James Story were the first to turn their match around. The No. 2 duo dropped the first game of the set, but quickly got on track with a three game run. They allowed their opponents only one more game before earning the first doubles win of the day 6-2.
The Gamecocks were fighting from behind on the other two doubles courts. South Carolina started down 0-2 in both remaining matches, but fought back to force tiebreakers on both.
No. 3 pair Toby Samuel and Casey Hoole were the ones to close their match first. The Gamecocks were dominant in the tiebreaker, claiming the first four points before their opponent got one. With the tiebreak score at 4-1, the duo won two more points to go up 6-1. The Wildcats didn’t give in easy, fighting back for two more points, but the Gamecocks ultimately won the match 7-6(3) to secure the doubles point. The remaining doubles match was dead even in the tiebreaker when play was suspended.
Play transitioned to singles where Kentucky was able to take the first win on Court 6 to even the match at 1-1. The Gamecocks took the lead back with Lambling securing an upset win over No. 61 Francois Musitelli on Court 4. The Paris, France, native was dominant in his match, winning both sets 6-2.
Junior Daniel Rodrigues extended the Gamecocks lead from his spot at the top of the lineup. The No. 3 player in the nation had a close first set with No. 94 Liam Draxl of Kentucky. Rodrigues served first and each player won their service games until the Gamecock got a timely break when up 5-4 to take the first set 6-4. The reigning SEC Player of the Week dominated the second set, winning it 6-1. This win marks the juniors ninth consecutive win over a ranked opponent and makes him 18-2 from the No. 1 position.
Samuel clinched the match for South Carolina win his win over No. 114 Millen Hurrion. The Gamecock had a strong showing in the first set, winning it 6-2, but struggled with a back injury in the second set that caused a medical timeout when he was down 2-3. Samuel tried fighting back, but dropped the second set 4-6. With a evened match and a clean slate for the final set, Samuel had newfound vigor and went on a five game run to take his final set 6-1. This is the sophomore’s second match clinch of the weekend and sixth of the season.
The remaining matches continued play with sophomore Connor Thomson putting up a strong fight against the nation’s No. 9 player, forcing him to a third set but ultimately dropping the match 4-6, 6-3, 2-6. Story also had a hard fight, dropping a double tiebreak match to No. 95 Joshua Lapadat 6-7(4), 6-7(8).
South Carolina will continue SEC action next weekend with their final regular season road trip of the year, traveling to Alabama to face Auburn on Friday at 4 p.m. and Alabama on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Gamecocks will be back at for their final regular-season home match against Texas A&M on April 15 at 5 p.m. at the Carolina Tennis Center.
For all the latest South Carolina men’s tennis information, continue to follow GamecocksOnline.com or the team on social media (@GamecockMTennis).
(10) South Carolina 4, (12) Kentucky 3
Doubles (order of finish: 2, 3)
1. (13) Rodrigues/Thomson (SC) tied with Musitelli/Hurrion (UK) 6-6(3-3), unfinished
2. Story/Lambling (SC) def. Mercer/Lapadat (UK) 6-2
3. Samuel/Hoole (SC) def. Draxl/Leblanc (UK) 7-6(3)
Singles (order of finish: 6, 4, 1, 2, 5, 3)
1. (3) Rodrigues (SC) def. (94) Draxl (UK) 6-4, 6-1
2. (57) Samuel (SC) def. (114) Hurrion (UK) 6-2, 4-6, 6-1
3. (9) Diallo (UK) def. Thomson (SC) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
4. Lambling (SC) def. (61) Musitelli (UK) 6-2, 6-2
5. (95) Lapadat (UK) def. Story (SC) 7-6(4), 7-6(8)
6. Mercer (UK) def. Morgan (SC) 6-1, 6-2