Gamecocks Begin SEC Season With Top-10 Matchup On The Road
Columbia, S.C. – No. 6 South Carolina men’s tennis will begin the SEC season on the road this year, traveling to take on No. 5 Kentucky on Thursday before making a stop in Nashville to take on Vanderbilt on Saturday.
The SEC men’s tennis season will begin on Thursday with the two highest-ranked teams in the league battling it out in Lexington. The fifth-ranked Wildcats will host the sixth-ranked Gamecocks in a top-10 matchup on Thursday, March 2, at 5 p.m. Live streaming for the match will be available here with live stats available here.
Following Thursday’s match, South Carolina will travel to Nashville, Tenn., where they will take on the Commodores on Saturday, March 4, at noon ET. Live streaming for the match will be available here with live stats available here.
- The Gamecocks have a 10-1 record on the season and are coming off of an appearance at the ITA Indoor Championships where they suffered a loss to No. 13 Georgia but picked up wins over No. 10 Baylor and No. 12 North Carolina.
- The team is ranked No. 6 in the latest ITA team rankings, tying for highest in-season ranking in program history. They have been ranked No. 6 in each of the last two rankings have have been in the top-10 for the last 19 ranking releases, dating back to February 23, 2022.
- South Carolina has been lead this season by junior Toby Samuel. Samuel is 9-1 from the top spot in the singles lineup and ranked No. 6 in the nation. The Bournemouth, England, native was the only player to go a perfect 3-0 from the top spot in both the singles and doubles lineup at the ITA Indoor Championships.
- Samuel is joined in the top-10 of the ITA singles rankings by fellow junior Connor Thomson. Thomson is ranked just behind Samuel at No. 7. The junior is 9-1 in dual play and has an 8-1 record from the No. 2 position. Thomson was an overall record of 22-3 this season with a 7-1 mark over ranked opponents, including a pair of top-10 upsets.
- Also in the ITA singles rankings for the Gamecocks are graduate Raphael Lambling and sophomore Casey Hoole. Lambling is ranked No. 80 with a 7-4 overall record and primarily plays at the No. 3 position. Hoole is ranked No. 90 with a 21-8 overall record and a 6-3 record in dual play, primarily at the No. 5 position.
- In doubles, the Gamecocks are lead by the duo of Samuel and Thomson who recently regained the top spot in the national rankings. The pair is 6-1 in dual play from the No. 1 position and have an overall record of 13-1.
- South Carolina has been dominant in doubles this season, only giving up the doubles point once in 11 matches. They later went on to win that match despite dropping the point. Overall, the team is 22-5 in dual doubles play – 7-1 from the No. 1 position, 9-2 from the No. 2 position, and 6-2 from the No. 3 position.
Scouting the Wildcats
- Kentucky is ranked No. 5 in the latest ITA team rankings. The Wildcats have remained in the top-5 all season long and made their jump into the top-5 after having made a deep run at the 2022 NCAA Team Championships. Kentucky was ranked as highly as No. 2 this season in the February 8th Coaches Poll where they received three first-place votes.
- The team is 12-1 this season with notable wins over No. 6 Southern California and No. 16 Florida at the ITA Indoor Championships, and road wins at No. 23 Louisville and No. 1 Virginia. Their only loss of the season was a 2-4 defeat from No. 3 TCU who later went on to claim the title at the ITA Indoor Championships.
- The Wildcats have been lead this season by senior Liam Draxl who has a 7-2 record at the No. 1 position. Draxl is ranked No. 27 by the ITA.
- Also in the ITA ranking for Kentucky is No. 23 Joshua Lapadat. Lapadat has spent the majority of the season at the No. 3 position and has a 9-2 overall record in dual play.
- Ranked No. 31 in the singles rankings is graduate transfer Alafia Ayeni. Ayeni is 6-4 in dual play with a 3-1 mark at the top spot in the lineup and a 3-3 record at the No. 2 position.
- Rounding out Kentucky’s ITA singles rankings are No. 100 Taha Baadi and No. 102 Charlelie Cosnet. Baadi is a perfect 9-0 in dual play and Cosnet has a 6-2 dual record.
- In doubles, Kentucky has one ranked pair in Lapadat and partner JJ Mercer. The duo primarily plays at the No. 2 and 3 positions and has a 7-1 overall record.
Scouting the Commodores
- Vanderbilt is off to a slow start on their season with a 3-6 record so far. Their three wins come over Tennessee State, Rice, and Belmont, all on their home courts in Nashville.
- The Commodores will face Arkansas on Thursday before hosting the Gamecocks on Saturday.
- Nathan Cox, Michael Ross, and Siim Troost have been the most consistent for the Commodores this season with all three players tying for a team-high dual singles records of 5-4 – Cox from the No. 2 position, Ross from the No. 3 position, and Troost splitting his time between the Nos. 4 and 5 positions.
- In doubles, Vanderbilt has been strong from the Nos. 2 and 3 positions. Cox and Ross combine for a 5-3 record from No. 2, while Joubert Klopper and Macsen Sisam are 6-2 from No. 3
The Kentucky Series
- South Carolina is 16-28 all time against Kentucky but has won the last two matchups of the series.
- The Gamecocks defeated the Wildcats twice in 2022, 4-1 during the ITA Indoor Championships and 4-3 during the SEC season in Columbia.
- Prior to the 2022 meetings, the two teams had been trading wins back and fourth with each team winning on their home court since 2012.
- South Carolina’s last win at Kentucky was a narrow 4-3 victory on April 16, 2000.
The Vanderbilt Series
- South Carolina is 20-13 all time record against Vanderbilt and has won each of the last three matchups.
- All three of the last wins have been 6-1 in South Carolina’s favor with two coming in Columbia and one in Nashville.
- The Gamecocks’ last win in Nashville was 6-1 on March 23, 2019.
- South Carolina holds the longest win streak of the series with six wins between 1996-2000.
For all the latest South Carolina men’s tennis information, continue to follow GamecocksOnline.com or the team on social media (@GamecockMTennis).