Baseball hosts four games this week including a three-game series with SEC West foe Mississippi State this weekend. Fans at Friday's game have a special chance to register to win free tickets to Michael Jackson the IMMORTAL World Tour by Cirque du Soleil at Colonial Life Arena on April 27. Women's Tennis will host their final home match of the season and hold Senior Day festivities on Saturday as they face No. 2 Florida at 11 a.m. Saturday's big day continues as Gamecock Football hosts its annual Garnet & Black Spring Game at 1 p.m. Fans are encouraged to come down to the field for our Fan Fest activities about 30 minutes after the game. We also have a tailgate competition and cornhole tournament that will start before the game. Click here for more information on participating.
Freshman pitcher Jordan Montgomery earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors after a stellar outing in the Gamecocks' 2-1 victory over Tennessee this past Saturday.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Baseball vs. The Citadel - 7 p.m. -Play Baseball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards *Watch the latest Gamecock Spotlight on junior Patrick Sullivan.
Women's Tennis vs. Florida - 11 a.m. -Official team posters -Final home match of the season -Senior Day *The Gamecocks are coming off a winning weekend with victories over LSU and Arkansas.
Football: Garnet & Black Spring Game - 1 p.m. -Free Admission -Official 2012 team posters available for the first time - get a sneak peek here -Fan Fest *Cornhole tournament, tailgate competition, photo opportunities with trophies, Cocky's Bounce House and more at the spring game Fan Fest! Click here for more info.
Baseball vs. Mississippi State - 4 p.m. -Play Baseball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Baseball vs. Mississippi State - 1:30 p.m. -Play Baseball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards
Gamecocks on the road...
Baseball @ Francis Marion - Wednesday, 7 p.m. Softball @ Georgia (DH) - Wednesday, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Equestrian at NCEA National Championships - Thursday - Saturday Track - Spec Towns Invitational, Athens, Ga. - Friday - Saturday Men's Tennis @ Florida - Saturday, 1 p.m.
Softball @ Alabama - Three game series Friday - 7:30 p.m. Saturday - 4:30 p.m. Sunday - 2:30 p.m.
After tough road series last weekend, both baseball and softball return home to Gamecock Country to face SEC foes this weekend. Baseball will welcome top-ranked Florida for a three game series, Thursday through Saturday. Softball will host LSU for the weekend, with free Gamecock bandanas at each game while supplies last. Saturday's softball game is $1 Hot Dog Day. For Sunday's game, Junior Gamecock Club members and Little Leaguers can get $1 group admission rates. Cocky's Bounce House will be on hand and all kids can run the bases after the game. South Carolina Track & Field will host their primary home outdoor meet of the season with the Weems Baskin Invitational.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
#8 Baseball vs. Wofford - 7:00 p.m. -Play Baseball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards
Thursday, March 22, 2012
#8 Baseball vs. #1 Florida - 7:30 p.m. -Play Baseball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards
Friday, March 23, 2012
Track- Weems Baskin Invitational - TBA/All Day -Official team posters
#48 Men's Tennis vs. #15 Ole Miss - 1:00 p.m. -Official team posters -Enter to win an autographed official team poster *Men's Tennis went undefeated last week against three Palmetto State opponents - Clemson, College of Charleston and Coastal Carolina.
Softball vs. LSU - 6:00 p.m. -Play Softball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards -Free Gamecock Bandanas* -Cocky's Bounce House -Facebook Friday- Show the coupon from the Softball Facebook page at the game for a prize
Get to know sophomore Dana Hathorn in her Gamecock Spotlight:
#8 Baseball vs.#1 Florida - 7:00 p.m. -Play Baseball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Track- Weems Baskin Invitational - TBA/All Day -Official team posters
#8 Baseball vs. #1 Florida - 1:00 p.m. -Play Baseball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards
Softball vs. LSU - 2:00 p.m. -Play Softball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards -$1 Hot Dog Day -Free Gamecock Bandanas* -Cocky's Bounce House
Sunday, March 25, 2012
#35 Women's Tennis vs. Mississippi State - 1:00 p.m. -Official team posters
Softball vs. LSU - 1:00 p.m. -Play Softball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards -Twitterific Sunday- Mention @GamecockSoftbll on gameday for a prize -Free Gamecock Bandanas* -Little League and Junior Gamecock Club Day (Get $1 group admission) -Kids Run the Bases -Cocky's Bounce House
Gamecocks on the road...
Women's Basketball - NCAA Tournament
#5 South Carolina vs. #4 Purdue - Monday, 7:20 p.m. ET Second Round TV: ESPN2, ESPN3.com Radio: 1320 AM, GamecocksOnline.com live audio stream Click here for more important info on TV/radio coverage for the game Full game notes and preview
Baseball @ Furman (Fluor Field) - Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. TV: Sport South Softball @ UNC - Wednesday, 5:00 p.m. Listen Online #35 Women's Tennis @ #20 Ole Miss - Friday, 3:00 p.m. #48 Men's Tennis @ #11 Mississippi State - Sunday, 2:00 p.m. Men's Golf @ Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate - Sunday - Tuesday
After earning series wins over the weekend, both Baseball and Softball will host games on Tuesday and Wednesday this week before hitting the road next weekend for conference play. Men's Tennis faces rival Clemson on the road Wednesday before returning home for a doubleheader on Sunday vs. two more Palmetto State foes, College of Charleston and Coastal Carolina. Women's Tennis also hosts two home matches this weekend, facing Georgia State on Saturday and Old Dominion on Sunday. Sunday will be a great day to catch both teams in action as we will be putting the Carolina Tennis Center to its max capacity for the first time with both sides of the 12-court facility in use - men on one side , women on the other.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Women's Basketball NCAA Selection Show Watch Party - 6:30 p.m. McGuire Club at Colonial Life Arena Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7:00 p.m. First 200 fans receive a free t-shirt More Info
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Softball vs. Mississippi State (DH) - 4:30 p.m., (6:45 p.m. approx. ) -Garnet, Black, & Green- Free recyclable grocery bags while supplies last -Play Softball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards *The Gamecocks are coming off a series win in their SEC opener vs. Arkansas this past weekend taking wins in game 2 and game 3 after an extra inning 5-4 loss in game 1.
#3 Baseball vs. Charleston Southern - 7:00 p.m. -Play Baseball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards *South Carolina swept Princeton in their final non-conference weekend series.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Softball vs. Charlotte - 6:00 p.m. -Play Softball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards
#3 Baseball vs. Appalachian State - 7:00 p.m. -Play Baseball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards *App State is off to a strong start with a 13-2 record, including two victories and the series win over LSU.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
#38 Women's Tennis vs. Georgia State - 1:00 p.m. -Official team posters
Sunday, March 18, 2012
#33 Men's Tennis vs. College of Charleston - 10:00 a.m. -Official team posters
#38 Women's Tennis vs. Old Dominion - 11:00 a.m. -Official team posters
#33 Men's Tennis vs. Coastal Carolina - 4:00 p.m. -Official team posters
Check out the latest Gamecock Spotlight on Men's Tennis sophomore Chip Cox:
Three Gamecock sports are in action at home this weekend, come cheer them on! Softball opens SEC play vs. Arkansas while Baseball plays their final nonconference weekend series of the season vs. Princeton. Women's Tennis takes on SEC foes, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
Softball vs. Arkansas - Beckham Field Friday: 6:00 p.m. - **Free pom poms for first 100 fans** Saturday: 2:00 p.m. Sunday: 1:00 p.m.
Tickets: $5 Adults, $3 Youth (17 and under), $1 each for groups of 15 or more
TV: none Web: Live audio available on GamecocksOnline.com All-Access Twitter: @GamecockSoftbll
-Click here for maps and directions to facilities.
***Reminder: fans are encouraged to
park in the new Athletics Village parking garage off Heyward Street
beside the Dodie for softball and tennis events. Parking in the garage
is FREE. Click here for a map including the pedestrian walkway.
Her eyes widened in her South Carolina dorm room as she read the email. Her father in Russia on the other end of a Skype video call wasn't sure what to think.
"What happened??" he said, sounding worried.
"I got in!" she screamed.
Thousands of miles away the father started celebrating along with his daughter, Katerina Popova, a sophomore women's tennis player at the University of South Carolina.
Popova had just learned she had been accepted into the prestigious International Business degree program at South Carolina, the No. 1-ranked program in the country for that field of study.
Admission to the program is extremely competitive and limited to just a small number of students each year. Popova's perfect 4.0 GPA as a freshman earned her a spot on the SEC Freshmen Academic Honor Roll and in prime position to be accepted to the program that requires a minimum 3.50 GPA and several business courses as pre-requisites. The International Business major also requires students to select a second major within the Moore School of Business; Popova chose Economics.
"I want to do something that I will be interested in...every single day will be something different," said Popova. "I like Economics because it depends on the situation, like how the markets are today. You just try to build your business depending on the situation in the markets and I think it's stressful but it's interesting."
Already proficient in her native Russian (she's from Moscow) as well as English, Popova chose to study Chinese to fulfill the foreign language requirement of the IB program.
"My brother lives in China and I was always interested in Asia," said Popova. "I just felt like it was something cool and interesting and then I saw online that they offer a Chinese minor and I was like okay, I'll try that."
All IB students participate in a period of study outside the United States. Many Gamecock fans are familiar with this part of the program as All-American pitcher and IB major Michael Roth famously jetted off to Spain just a few days after winning the College World Series for his study abroad program in summer 2011. Similar to Roth, Popova will aim to fulfill this requirement during a summer term after her junior year.
"On one hand I want to go to China since I'm learning Chinese," said Popova. "But on the other hand I would love to go to Australia!"
Popova shared that she knew she was interested in International Business before she came to South Carolina, but didn't make the decision to actually apply to the program until after being so successful academically her freshman year. She says balancing academics with being a student-athlete is a challenge (she even had five exams in one week a few weeks ago!), she finds a way to get everything done, as evidenced by her GPA and strong performance on the court. Katerina has played primarily at the No. 4 singles spot this season and in various pairings in the No. 3 doubles slot. Individually she is 13-8 overall and 7-3 in dual match play. The team as a whole is also 7-3 in dual play, with two more SEC matches this weekend, Friday vs. Kentucky at 3:00 p.m. and Sunday vs. Vanderbilt at 1:00 p.m.
While Katerina and her father celebrated the big news via Skype, she said she was amused by her mom's much calmer, very motherly response:
"Well, didn't you expect you would get in?"
For more information on the Gamecock Women's Tennis team, click here.
For more information on the International Business program, click here.
So far in the 2011-12 school year, South Carolina holds a 9-3 record vs. Clemson, including taking wins in each of the most visible sports: Football, Men's Basketball, Women's Basketball and Baseball.
Senior right fielder and series MVP Adam Matthews .417 (5-for-12) in the three games including a three-run homer in Saturday's victory.
The most recent wins against our rival came this weekend as the back-to-back National Champion baseball team won the first two games out of three to win the series vs. Clemson. The Gamecocks have now beaten Clemson in 16 of the last 23 baseball contests between the two schools dating back to the 2007 season.
Football has also strung together an impressive streak with three consecutive years of dominating wins over the Tigers. This year's 34-13 victory in Columbia, the 10th of the season for Carolina, is still fresh in every Gamecock's mind:
Men's Basketball collected their second consecutive win over Clemson with a 58-55 victory in December on the road at Littlejohn Coliseum just eight days after the football team's big win. Bruce Ellington was a part of both the football and men's basketball wins having joined his teammates on the hardwood at the end of the football regular season.
Women's Basketball also defeated Clemson in their house in November, led by a 19-point outing from senior Charenee Stephens and shooting 50% in the first half to help deliver a 65-48 victory.
Women's Soccer seniors hold up four fingers to represent four straight wins over Clemson.
Other wins came in Women's Soccer with a 2-0 victory on the road at Clemson (fourth consecutive win, all shut-outs, making this year's Gamecock senior class the first to go undefeated against the Tigers); Men's and Women's Swimming & Diving (the Gamecocks won 19 of the 32 events to sweep the Tigers in the final meet between the two schools as Clemson is ending their program); and Women's Tennis (a 4-3 upset by #26 Carolina over #17 Clemson at the new Carolina Tennis Center). The Gamecocks' only losses to Clemson this year are in Men's Soccer (first win for the Tigers in the past five meetings), Volleyball, and one game out of the Baseball series. Men's Tennis is the last team to face off with Clemson in the regular season this year as they will go on the road to Clemson on March 14th at 1:00 p.m.
Softball opens up SEC play this weekend with a three-game series vs. Arkansas coming off a 4-0 undefeated weekend out in California at the Highlander Classic. The first 100 fans at Friday's opening game at 6:00 p.m. will receive free pom-poms. Baseball is coming off a big weekend winning the series vs. Clemson, dropping only the final game by a one-run margin, 6-5. South Carolina Baseball has defeated Clemson in 16 of the last 23 contests between the two schools dating back to the 2007 season. After a mid-week game vs. UNC Asheville, Baseball will host Princeton this weekend for their final non-conference three-game series. Women's Tennis continues SEC play with home matches on Friday vs. Kentucky (SEC home opener) and Sunday vs. Vanderbilt at the new Carolina Tennis Center.
***Reminder: fans are encouraged to park in the new Athletics Village parking garage off Heyward Street beside the Dodie for softball and tennis events. Parking in the garage is FREE. Click here for a map including the pedestrian walkway.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
#3 Baseball vs. UNC Asheville - 7:00 p.m. -Play Baseball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards
Friday, March 9, 2012
#22 Women's Tennis vs. Kentucky - 3:00 p.m. -SEC home opener -Official team posters
Softball vs. Arkansas - 6:00 p.m. -SEC opener -Free pom-poms for the first 100 fans -Play Softball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards *Undefeated at Highlander Classic this past weekend.
#3 Baseball vs. Princeton - 7:00 p.m. -Play Baseball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards
Check out the Gamecock Spotlight on ace pitcher Michael Roth:
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Softball vs. Arkansas - 2:00 p.m. -Play Softball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards
#3 Baseball vs. Princeton - 4:00 p.m. -Play Baseball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards
Sunday, March 11, 2012
#22 Women's Tennis vs. #33 Vanderbilt - 1:00 p.m. -Official team posters
Softball vs. Arkansas - 1:00 p.m. -Play Softball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards
#3 Baseball vs. Princeton - 1:30 p.m. -Play Baseball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters and schedule cards
Gamecocks on the road...
NCAA Zone B Diving Championships, Auburn, AL - Monday-Wednesday Men's Golf at Palmetto Intercollegiate, Aiken, SC - Monday - Tuesday Softball at Coastal Carolina - Doubleheader, Wednesday, 3:00/5:15 p.m. #22 Men's Tennis at #9 Kentucky - Friday, 2:00 p.m. #22 Men's Tennis at #48 Vanderbilt - Sunday, 2:00 p.m. Track & Field - NCAA Indoor Championships, Idaho - Friday - Saturday
Men's Basketball SEC Tournament - New Orleans South Carolina vs. Alabama - First Round - Thursday, 3:30 p.m. TV: SEC Network, Radio: Gamecock IMG Sports Network
Joining Athletics Director Eric Hyman and host Derek Scott tonight on "Inside the Roost" will be Katarina Petrovic, assistant women's tennis coach, and Kalen Harris, head women's golf coach.
Women's Tennis is off to a great start this season with a 7-1 record including an upset victory over #17 Clemson last week. The 4-3 win was the Gamecocks' first victory over the Tigers since 2006. They won both their home matches this weekend vs. College of Charleston and Winthrop. They hit the road this weekend to start SEC play at Georgia on Friday and at Tennessee on Sunday.
Women's Golf is headed to the inaugural Darius Rucker Intercollegiate tournament in Hilton Head this weekend. The new tournament is a joint effort between singer/songwriter and avid Gamecock fan Darius Rucker, Long Cove Club in Hilton Head and South Carolina Athletics, who have all agreed to host the 54-hole event through 2016. Fans are welcome to attend the tournament. More Info
Tune in to "Inside the Roost" tonight and every Monday from 7:00-8:00 p.m. on 107.5 The Game. You can also listen online.
We have a jam-packed week of home events this week with lots of opportunities to cheer on your Gamecocks! Almost every team currently in season is playing at home this week, including the final home game of the season for Women's Basketball. The Gamecocks earned their 20th win of the season Sunday with a road win over Alabama and will look to close out the season strong this week with Senior Day on Sunday vs. Arkansas. Equestrian hosts two competitions this weekend, vs. Auburn on Saturday with their annual Equifest, and Senior Day on Sunday vs. Baylor. Baseball and Softball are both in action as Baseball hosts a three-game weekend series against Elon and Softball hosts the Gamecock Invitational tournament including four contests for Carolina. Both tennis squads are also playing at home, with Women's Tennis facing rival Clemson on Wednesday followed by two more matches on Friday and Sunday and Men's Tennis hosting a doubleheader on Saturday. All of this week's tennis matches are currently scheduled to be played outdoors in the new Carolina Tennis Center.
Parking Reminder: for softball and tennis events we encourage fans to park in the new Athletics Village parking garage off Heyward St. Parking in the garage is free for athletic events. See map
We look forward to seeing a lot of fans out at all the events - make it a very Gamecock weekend!
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
#26 Women's Tennis vs. #17 Clemson - 2:00 p.m. -Free pizza for the first 100 students -Official team posters *The team picked up two wins in California this past weekend and will face three Palmetto State opponents this week. *Get to know Jaklin Alawi in the Gamecock Spotlight:
Softball vs. Winthrop - 5:00 p.m. -Play Softball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters *The Gamecocks recorded an 8-1 victory over the Eagles during the Palmetto Classic on opening weekend.
Friday, February 24, 2012
#26 Women's Tennis vs. College of Charleston - 3:00 p.m. -Official team posters *Jaklin Alawi and Dijana Stojic are currently 4-0 this spring at No. 1 doubles.
#2 Baseball vs. Elon - 3:00 p.m. -Play Baseball Bingo for a chance to win a prize *South Carolina is ranked second in the nation in college baseball attendance after opening weekend averaged 7,751 fans per game.
Softball vs. Elon - 5:00 p.m. -Gamecock Invitational -Play Softball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters
Saturday, February 25, 2012
#48 Men's Tennis vs. Furman - 10:00 a.m. -First match for the men's team at the Carolina Tennis Center -Enter to win an autographed team poster -Official team posters *Men's Tennis is currently 8-1 and undefeated at home.
#5 Equestrian vs. #1 Auburn - 10:00 a.m. -Equifest: Activities will include decorating cowboy hats, horse shoes, stick horses, and a coloring station -Official team posters
Softball vs. Appalachian State - 12:30 p.m. -Gamecock Invitational -Play Softball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters
#2 Baseball vs. Elon - 1:30 p.m. -Play Baseball Bingo for a chance to win a prize
Softball vs. Presbyterian - 3:00 p.m. -Gamecock Invitational -Play Softball Bingo for a chance to win a prize
-Official team posters
#48 Men's Tennis vs. Charlotte - 4:00 p.m. -Enter to win an autographed team poster! -Official team posters available
Men's Basketball vs. Tennessee - 8:00 p.m. -Flying Hounds halftime act -Cocky's Bounce House -One of just two remaining home games *Senior forward Malik Cooke reached the 1,000-point milestone for his career this past Saturday vs. LSU.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Softball vs. George Washington - 10:00 a.m. -Gamecock Invitational -Play Softball Bingo for a chance to win a prize -Official team posters
#5 Equestrian vs. #4 Baylor - 11:00 a.m. -Senior Day -Official team posters
#26 Women's Tennis vs. Winthrop - 1:00 p.m. -Official team posters
#2 Baseball vs. Elon - 1:30 p.m. -Play Baseball Bingo for a chance to win a prize
Women's Basketball vs. Arkansas - 2:00 p.m. -Senior Day - final home game for seniors Markeshia Grant, Courtney Newton, Charenee Stephens, La'Keisha Sutton and Ebony Wilson -Flying Hounds halftime act -"Active Gamecocks" game - program winners recognized on the court during the game -Cocky's Bounce House
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".
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."
Play begins today in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for Women's Tennis. Head Coach Arlo Elkins and the Gamecocks will take on Arizona in the first round of play. #2-overall seed Florida and South Carolina State round out the region. Of the 30 years the NCAA has held a championship tournament for Women's Tennis, South Carolina has received a bid 21 times, including the current impressive streak of 17 consecutive tournament berths, which is the 11th longest active streak in the country
"It's all a part of the process," Elkins said of the keys to the streak. "You have to have good recruiting, you have to have good players, and we have to develop them the best we can and we've been able to do that the past 17 years. We hope that we can establish to do better than just going to NCAA's every year. I think 15 of those 17 we have won first round or more but I think it's time we establish ourselves at a higher level than that and get into the final 16 as much as we can. But the NCAA Tournament is what we strive for every year."
The team's lone senior, Miljana Jocic (above left), has now been to the NCAA Tournament all four years at Carolina.
"It means a lot to me that the program is very good and we are all on the same page," said Jocic. "Everyone understands that we are not done when the conference tournament is done. We have to play very well the entire season to get to NCAA's because only the top teams get in. It is always our goal to do well in the NCAA Tournament. [In 2009] we made school history making it to the quarterfinals. Now when new freshmen come in we're trying to explain to them what a great experience it is. Your college career is only four years, you want to make it count, especially in the NCAA Tournament."
After the NCAA Tournament Jocic plans to take a break over the summer before returning to Columbia to complete an internship with the Sheraton Hotel to complete her degree in Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management for graduation in December.
"I'm not going to play pro after this so it's crazy to me that this big chapter of my life is ending," said Jocic. "I've been playing tennis practically all my life, since I was seven, so [this year's NCAA Tournament] will be different."
Junior Anya Morgina was the only Gamecock to also receive a berth in the 64-person NCAA Singles Championship Tournament, to be played at Stanford after the completion of the team championship. She tied a school record for victories at No. 1 singles this season and was named All-SEC First Team.
"Making the NCAA Tournament has been the goal for the team and for myself throughout the season practicing and playing," said Morgina. "I'm trying to get in some extra work to get ready to play in the singles tournament as well as the team tournament. Hopefully this year will be even better than last year."
Even when you've made the Tournament for 17 straight years, it's still exciting every time.
"It's a sense of accomplishment," said Elkins. "It's what we strive for every year. We're looking forward to it. We gotta get by our first round and if we get by Arizona then we will most likely play Florida again. It would be the third time in three or four weeks that we've played them so we should know their games pretty well. If we play well we'll be able to hold our own with them."
"I'm excited because it's the biggest tournament of the year both for the team and for me individually in singles," said Morgina. "I'm also excited to go to San Francisco, I've never been there and I've always wanted to visit California."
Moving forward the Gamecocks hope to continue their string of success and the new tennis facility being built in the Athletics Village at the Roost will play a role.
"It will help recruiting. We have been by far one of the worst facilities in the SEC and in the country for a team that's done as well as we have. So first of all it will help recruiting when we get a better facility up to the standards of other SEC and national-level programs," explained Elkins. "I think it will also improve our fan base, which also helps recruiting. It's hard to park at our old courts and not very comfortable. Now we'll have a first-class facility not just for our players but for our fans and spectators as well."
Good luck to the ladies as they begin the NCAA Tournament today in Gainesville!
GamecocksOnline.com insider Cory Burkarth caught up with former Gamecock women's tennis great Gira Schofield on Thursday at Maxcy Gregg Tennis Center. Schofield earned her degree in exercise science from the University of South Carolina in summer 2009 and has been traveling the world since playing in professional tournaments. Below is a list of her highlights as a Gamecock from 2005 to 2009. See the full video interview with Gira here.
• First player in school history to earn at season-ending national singles ranking four years in a row • First and only player in Gamecock history to play in the NCAA Singles Championship four times • First player to earn four All-SEC citations • Owns the most career SEC regular-season singles victories at No. 1 singles • Ranked eighth in school history for singles wins (89), fifth in doubles (81) and sixth in combined wins (170) • Named the 2006 SEC Freshman of the Year and ITA Southeast Region Rookie of the Year • Three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll • A 2009 ITA Scholar-Athlete Award recipient