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Akli, Hamner Make Way into Quarterfinals
Women's Tennis  . 

Akli, Hamner Make Way into Quarterfinals

Orlando, Fla.  – South Carolina women’s tennis senior Ayana Akli and sophomore Sarah Hamner have advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Doubles Championships. Akli has also advanced into the quarterfinals of the Singles Championships.

Wednesday’s action began with singles where No. 12 Akli took on No. 45 Carly Briggs of Florida. Briggs had first serve and each player took their own service games through the first three, where Briggs was able to earn a break to go up 3-1. Akli didn’t let the pressure get to her and broke back immediately, allowing her to take her own next service game to tie things up at three all.

From there, each player held serve to get to four all, but Akli dug deep and was able to claim Brigg’s next game to achieve her first lead of the set at 5-4. She was then able to serve it out to claim the set 6-4.

In the second set, neither player could hold serve with both players giving up their first two service games. Briggs was finally able to claim a game for herself to take a 3-2 lead, but Akli tied it up quickly at three all.

Briggs again tallied a game win to go up 4-3 and claimed another break go up 5-3. The Gator then served for the set but Akli battled back to save it, breaking Briggs to cut her lead to 5-4. The Gamecock was then on serve and fell to 15-40 but again dug deep to fight back and win her service game at deuce, tying things up at five all.

With the momentum on her side, Akli flew through the next two games to win the match with a 7-5 second set.

Akli now moves on to the quarterfinals where she will face No. 11 Maddy Sieg of Southern California. The match will begin on Thursday at 10 a.m. on the Collegiate Courts at the USTA National Campus.

In doubles action, No. 33 Akli and Hamner took on No. 22 Salma Ewing and Jayci Goldsmith of Texas A&M. Neither pair could hold serve to start the match with three consecutive breaks, but the Aggies finally were able to claim their own game to take a 3-1 lead. They held the lead through the next three games, but Akli and Hamner were able to break back to tie things at four all and take their first lead of the set at 5-4. From there play was even, forcing the set to a tiebreaker at six all.

In the breaker, things were even again with each team holding serve and passing a one point lead back and forth. The Aggie pair finally made a move at six all to lead 7-6 and appeared to have the set in the bag but Akli and Hamner battled back, taking the Aggie’s serve and the next three points to win the breaker 9-7.

In between sets, rain began to fall, forcing the match to be paused and eventually moved indoors. Once inside, the Gamecocks made a statement start, breaking Ewing and Goldsmith on their first service game to take a 2-0 lead. The Gamecocks rode their lead out to 3-1, but the Aggies eventually broke back to tie at three all.

Akli and Hamner were quick to respond, breaking back for a 4-3 lead and using their momentum to take the next two games, ending the second set a 6-3.

Akli and Hamner, who entered the Doubles Championships as alternates, are now All-Americans for advancing to the quarterfinals. The Doubles All-American honor is a career-first for both Gamecocks. They are the first Gamecock pair to make it to the quarterfinals since 2019 when Mia Horvit and Ingrid Gamarra Martins advanced to the semifinals.

The duo will now face No. 18 Sieg and Eryn Cayetano of Southern California on Thursday at 2:00 p.m.

More information on the Championships, including draws, schedules, and spectator information can be found on the Tournament Central webpage.

For all the latest South Carolina women’s tennis information, continue to follow or the team on social media (@GamecockWTennis).

Singles Round of 16

(12) Ayana Akli (SC) def. (45) Carly Briggs (UF) 6-4, 7-5

Doubles Round of 16

(33) Ayana Akli/Sarah Hamner (SC) def. (22) Salma Ewing/Jayci Goldsmith (TAMU) 7-6(7), 6-3