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Women's Tennis  . 

Hamner, Akli Prepped for NCAA Singles Play

No. 57 Akli will play at 12:30 p.m. ET and No. 6 Hamner will play at 5 p.m. ET.

Champaign, Ill. – Sixth-seeded Sarah Hamner and junior Ayana Akli of the No. 28 South Carolina women’s tennis team begin play in the NCAA Singles Championship on Monday. They will compete at the University of Illinois’ Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in Champaign, Ill.
 
“I think we’re in the best shape we could possibly be in going into this thing,” said head coach Kevin Epley. “We’ve definitely put in the work so it’s time to just lay everything out there and see what happens. I think they both could do extremely well in the tournament. We’ve been grinding the past few weeks to give them the best shot and we’ll be fired up to get out there.”
 
Hamner, the No. 6 player in the nation, is scheduled to play No. 76 Shakhnoza Khatamova from UC Santa Barbara in the first round of the 64-person singles event at 5 p.m. ET, while No. 57 Akli will face No. 11 Jaeda Daniel from NC State at 12:30 p.m. ET.
 
Akli is making her second appearance in the singles championship after earning a bid in the 2020-21 season while at Maryland. She advanced to the Round of 32 when she defeated North Carolina’s Fiona Crawley who was 30-0 entering the competition. This will be Hamner’s first singles championship appearance. 
 
“[Ayana is] an extremely good athlete,” said Epley. “Throughout the course of the semester we really got to see some of the best of her and I think she’ll be in good shape to perform well at the NCAA Tournament.”
 
Akli is 29-15 in singles this season with 16 wins against nationally ranked opponents. She is on an 11-match winning streak dating back to the March 13 match when she downed then-No. 25 Mell Reasco of Georgia. Of her 29 total wins, 25 were secured in straight sets. In the first round of team play in the NCAA Tournament, Akli defeated No. 89 Ange Oby Kajuru of then-No. 32 Iowa State to help South Carolina advance to the second round.
 
Should Akli earn 30 wins on the season, she will be the second on the Gamecock squad to reach the milestone this year. It will also mark the first time since the 1989-90 season that at least two South Carolina members reach the 30-win threshold in the same season. 
 
“[Sarah has] been working really hard and focusing on improving little things within her game,” Epley said. “She’s definitely gotten more composed…She’s much clearer about who she is as a tennis player.”
 
Hamner recently improved to 34-8 after notching a win against No. 56 Thasaporn Naklo of Iowa State. She is currently third in the South Carolina record book for wins in a single season and has the opportunity to jump to the top spot if she reaches the quarterfinals of the tournament. 
 
The freshman from Boca Raton, Fla., has 21 wins against ranked opponents, earning seven of those on her way to becoming the ITA All-American National Champion. She played all her dual matches in the No. 1 spot for South Carolina and has been ranked in the top-six singles players the entire spring. 
 
Match Day Coverage

 
Schedule

  • No. 57 Ayana Akli vs. No. 11 Jaeda Daniel – 12:30 p.m. ET
  • No. 6 Sarah Hamner vs. No. 76 Shakhnoza – 5 p.m. ET

For more information on South Carolina women’s tennis, check out the team on GamecocksOnline and on social media:

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