March 9, 2014
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - No. 40 South Carolina battled No. 26 Florida down to the final moments of a pair of three-set matches before falling 4-2 at Linder Stadium at the Ring Tennis Complex. The Gamecocks won the doubles point, highlighted by a win over the nation's ninth-ranked duo by Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov, but saw a pair of three-set singles matches go to the Gators to decide the final outcome.
"Hats off to Florida," South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. "It was a great college tennis match today, and we just came up short by a few points. We are happy with our performance and are anxious to compete again on Friday."
South Carolina took the first point of the match with great doubles play that started at the top of the lineup with Cox and Mihov taking down No. 9 Elliot Orkin and Gordon Watson 8-5. The other two matches were on serve late with Andrew Adams and Kyle Koch sealing the point after turning a 6-6 tie into an 8-6 victory over Mike Alford and Florent Diep.
Singles went the Gators' way early as Florida took the lead in all but the No. 6 match pitting No. 62 Elliot Orkin against South Carolina's Andrew Schafer. The Gamecocks' freshman was on track to extend his win streak to six with his 6-1 first-set victory. Moments later, Cox turned his 4-4 tie with Luke Johnson in the No. 5 match into a 6-4 first-set win.
As Thiago Pinheiro lost his first set to Diego Hidalgo in the No. 3 match, Koch was turning the tide in his second set. After falling to Maxx Lipman 6-1 in the first set in the No. 4 match, the Gamecocks' junior erased an early 1-3 deficit in his second to get back on serve at 4-3. Mihov was also mounting his comeback from a 6-1 first-set loss to Watson at the top of the lineup, going up a break at 5-3 in the second set. Both Koch and Mihov finished off their sets 6-4 to force third sets in both matches. Meanwhile, Orkin topped Schafer 6-1 in their second set to force a third as well.
Florida's Florent Diep leveled the team score with a 6-1, 6-2 win over No. 112 Adams, and Hidalgo put the Gators up 2-1 with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Pinheiro in the No. 3 spot. After leading 5-3, Cox fought off a second-set rally from Alford, pushing ahead late in a tiebreak, 7-6 (5), to post his third-straight win to level the team scoring again, 2-2 with the remaining three singles matches all in their third sets.
Schafer fell behind 1-3 early in his final set, but battled back to 4-4 against Orkin just as Koch went up a break at 4-2 in his third set. Mihov and Watson were on serve through their first six games. Orkin brought the Gators within a point of the team win with his 6-4 third-set win over Schafer just ahead of Lipman staving off Koch's attempt to serve out the match at 5-4. Watson also responded to his teammates' successes, surging ahead of Mihov by winning three straight games for a 6-3 win that clinched the team victory for Florida.
South Carolina is back at home this weekend, hosting No. 16 Georgia on Fri., Mar. 14, at 5 p.m. and No. 13 Tennessee on Sun., Mar. 16, at 1 p.m. at Carolina Tennis Center.
#26 Florida 4, #40 South Carolina 2Doubles (Order of Finish: 1, 2)
1. Chip Cox/Tsvetan Mihov (SC) def. (9) Elliot Orkin/Gordon Watson (UF) 8-5
2. Andrew Adams/Kyle Koch (SC) def. Mike Alford/Florent Diep (UF) 8-6
3. Thiago Pinheiro/Andrew Schafer (SC) led Diego Hidalgo/Spencer Newman (UF) 6-5 suspended
Singles (Order of Finish: 2, 3, 5, 6, 1*)
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