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Athletics Holds Carolina Tennis Center Dedication

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Watch the full video of the Carolina Tennis Center dedication here

South Carolina Athletics hosted a dedication ceremony Monday afternoon for the new Carolina Tennis Center at the Athletics Village. Athletics Director Eric Hyman hosted the festivities, leading off the introductions by thanking everyone involved with bring the project to life, including the university Board of Trustees, Executive Associate AD Kevin O'Connell, who oversees facility projects, the engineers, architects, construction team and more. The words used most throughout the day by everyone speaking were "magnificent" and "breathtaking".

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From left to right, Hyman, Machado, Goffi, Elkins and Stojic lead the ceremonial ribbon-cutting. Photo by Allen Sharpe.

"When we started doing our long-range master plan for facilities, we knew that improvement on the tennis courts was part of the equation," said Hyman. "This is a piece of the puzzle and we're really excited to do something for our tennis programs. Our job is to give the facilities, the support and the commitment to our student-athletes...our responsibility is to give the proper resources to our coaches so they can achieve on a high level in the field of competition." 

After Hyman's introduction both teams' head coaches and two student-athletes spoke to the crowd.

"We're so grateful to Eric [Hyman] and Marcy [Girton] and everyone else who was involved," said women's tennis head coach Arlo Elkins. "When you look at just this facility, on its own it stands as one of the best facilities in the country. When you look around at the Dodie, the [Rice Athletics Center]...this area will be second to none."

Senior Dijana Stojic, playing her final season with the Gamecocks, spoke on behalf of the women's team, saying, "After three and a half years of hard work, this came as a reward. There is no better feeling than to tell everyone how proud we are to have a new home. There is no better feeling when you host tournaments and every team is impressed with what they see, and there is no better feeling than to finish my college tennis career and to open up the doors to new Gamecocks. I want to thank everyone for doing an amazing job and making us proud."

Josh Goffi, head coach of the men's tennis team, took the mic next to speak.

"I can't tell you how much it means to us - we are in the center of the Athletic Village and a show piece at that. It's absolutely gorgeous. Our guys love the courts...everything about it. It's absolutely perfect. We hope that we can only do it justice in the future and we're trying to build a program that will do just that."

Goffi handed the mic over to senior Ivan Machado to speak on behalf of his student-athletes.

"It's a gorgeous facility; the courts are perfect. We knew it was going to be good, but not this good," said Machado, smiling. "When they started the project Coach DeMars [retired former coach and Hall of Fame member Kent DeMars, who was in attendance at the dedication] was talking to me about it before Josh even got here. I've been looking forward to it since my freshman year, it's great. We want to say thank you to Mr. Hyman, all the members of the board, everybody that made this possible for us and made this investment in the tennis team. We cannot say thank you enough."

Machado and Stojic then led their teams in presenting Hyman with a framed photo of the facility as a thank you gift and the teams gathered around the five speakers for the ceremonial ribbon cutting to much applause from the crowd.

After the dedication Goffi shared how big an impact the new facility will have on recruiting.

"We didn't even have the facility built yet and we were able to recruit the number three class in the country [in 2011]," said Goffi. "It's looking very promising for the future and this is a facility that these teams deserve to be totally honest. Both programs work as hard, if not harder, than any program in the country. They deserve to play in such a high class facility."

Click here to see video of the dedication and a photo gallery

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