South Carolina Tops Kentucky 4-1, Advances to Quarterfinals
Gainesville, Fla. – No. 28 South Carolina earned a trip to the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament with a 4-1 win over No. 61 Kentucky. After securing the doubles point, the Gamecocks continued to dominate in singles with Megan Davies clinching the match for South Carolina.
“I think this is one of the more complete matches of the season,” said head coach Kevin Epley. “We mixed up some doubles teams but that actually turned out to be a good move and then we came out and got it done in singles. I liked our energy. We played very well in some spots and I’m excited that we were able to do that today and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
In doubles, Ayana Akli and Ana Cruz were quick to top their Wildcat opponents in the No. 1 spot. The pair of juniors dominated in their match to win 6-1, setting the foundation for the Gamecocks to take doubles. Davies and Gracie Mulvillewere next to finish in the No. 3 spot. They played a competitive match but emerged with the 6-4 win to help South Carolina to the doubles point.
Singles proved to be smooth sailing for South Carolina with five of the six first sets going to the Gamecocks. At the top of the lineup, No. 5 Sarah Hamner played an efficient match against Florencia Urrutia. The Gamecock freshman dropped the first game but easily built to a 6-1 first set win. She won the first two games in the second set before Urrutia could win a game of her own. Hamner settled back in and cruised to a 6-1 second set win when Urrutia hit an overhead out of bounds to put the Gamecocks ahead 2-0.
Kentucky grabbed the next point with a win on Court 5, but the fate of the match was soon decided by South Carolina. In the No. 2 spot, No. 54 Akli dominated in her match against Carlota Molina. Akli split games with Molina in the beginning of the match but she found her footing quickly to earn the 6-1 first set win. The second set started much like the first with Akli building to a 4-1 lead. Molina came back to close in 5-3, but Akli would not give up the fight. She won the next game with a powerful forehand that Molina dumped into the net.
With the Gamecocks up 3-1, Davies was moments away from winning her match. The Gamecock veteran had an impressive first set, going up 5-0 before sealing the win 6-2. She brought her momentum into the second set as she cruised to a 5-0 lead once more. This time, she would not give up any games and claimed the 6-0 victory after a long series of volleys to advance the Gamecocks to the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament.
South Carolina will face 3rd-seeded Georgia on Friday at 3 p.m. Continue to check the SEC Tournament Central page and @GamecockWTennis for match coverage updates.
(28) South Carolina def. (61) Kentucky 4-1
Doubles (Order of Finish: 1, 3*)
1. Ayana Akli/Ana Cruz (SC) def. No. 36 Fiona Arrese/Elizabeth Eades (UK) 6-1
2. No. 22 Sarah Hamner/Misa Malkin (SC) vs. Carla Girbau/Lidia Gonzalez (UK) 5-4 DNF
3. Megan Davies/Gracie Mulville (SC) def. Florencia Urrutia/Carlota Molina (UK) 6-4
Singles (Order of Finish: 1, 5, 2, 3*)
1. No. 5 Sarah Hamner (SC) def. Florencia Urrutia (UK) 6-1, 6-1
2. No. 54 Ayana Akli (SC) def. Carlota Molina (UK) 6-1, 6-3
3. Megan Davies (SC) def. Carla Girbau (UK) 6-2, 6-0
4. No. 119 Elise Mills (SC) vs. Elizabeth Eades (UK) 6-3, 4-2, DNF
5. Lidia Gonzalez (UK) def. Misa Malkin (SC) 6-4, 6-0
6. Gracie Mulville (SC) vs. Maialen Morante (UK) 6-4, 3-2 DNF