Gamecocks Battle Past Alabama into SEC Quarterfinals
April 17, 2014
NASHVILLE - No. 30 South Carolina took an early lead in doubles and the bottom half of the lineup came through again in a 4-1 win over No. 33 Alabama in the SEC Tournament action Thursday afternoon at Currey Tennis Center at Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks (15-12) played to their strengths throughout the match, and freshman Andrew Schafer finished off the win set up by senior Chip Cox and junior Kyle Koch in singles action.
"Two and three doubles took control of their matches immediately, and that set the tone for the day," South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. "The rest of the team seeing that our No. 3 doubles was up a break early gave everyone confidence and took the pressure off. The doubles point was the key to the match. We felt like, if we got that, we could take care of singles with the lower part of our lineup, which came through at 4, 5 and 6."
The Gamecocks asserted themselves early in the Nos. 2 and 3 doubles matches, and both established 3-1 leads quickly. While a pair of top-25 teams battled it out in the No. 1 spot, which went to the Crimson Tide's 15th-ranked duo, South Carolina was in control on the other two courts. Thiago Pinheiro and Schafer were reunited as the Gamecocks' No. 3 team, and after they survived a long hold on Pinheiro's serve held a 4-1 lead that they would not relinquish in the 8-3 win over Andrew Goodwin and Nikki Madregallejo. With the match's split, the point came down to the No. 2 match where Andrew Adams and Koch had added a second service break and served out the 8-4 win over Sean Donohue and Stuart Kenyon for a 1-0 Gamecock lead.
In singles play, Cox was the early aggressor in the No. 4 match against Madregallejo with a break to go up 3-1. He won three of the next four games for an efficient 6-2 first set just after Schafer broke Hayes Brewer at Love to go up 4-3 in the No. 6 match. Koch was on serve in the No. 5 match, but Alabama was up a break in the other three matches. The Crimson Tide finished out first-set wins in the Nos. 1 and 2 matches, but Pinheiro was holding off Kenyon at No. 3.
Meanwhile, Goodwin was serving to stay in the set with Koch, who led 5-4, and scored the service break to take the set 6-4. At the other end of the facility, the No. 6 match was back on serve as Brewer broke Schafer for 5-5. The Gamecock freshman returned the favor, breaking at Love, but Brewer forced a tiebreak just as Kenyon took the first set from Pinheiro, 6-4, in the No. 3 match.
On Court 6, the two freshmen traded points early in the tiebreak with Brewer claiming the first lead at 4-2. Trailing 3-5, Schafer picked up a point on Brewer's serve then hit a cross-court forehand winner to level the tiebreak at 5-5. Another point went Schafer's way to set up set point, which Brewer erased to get to 6-6. Schafer was undeterred, though, and picked up the next two points to win the set 7-6 (6).
While Schafer rallied, his teammates were doing the same. Cox had fallen behind Madregallejo early in the second set in the No. 4 match, but won five straight games to take a 5-2 advantage. Koch was leaving little doubt in the second set of his match with Goodwin, though, picking up a break for 3-1 and cruising through the next three games to make it a 2-0 Gamecock lead with his 6-4, 6-1 victory.
At the top of the lineup, No. 55 Adams was up a break in his second set against No. 26 Daniil Proskura, and Pinheiro was up 3-0 on Keyon in their second set to keep momentum on the Gamecocks' side. Becker O'Shaughnessey's 6-4, 6-1 win over Mihov had barely hit the scoreboard when Cox closed out his 6-2, 6-3 win over Madregallejo, who had fought off three match points on his serve before South Carolina's senior served out the victory that brought the Gamecocks within a point of the team victory.
The tiebreak win buoyed Schafer, and the freshman sprinted out to a 4-0 lead on Brewer. Alabama's freshman looked to rally with a break a 4-1, but Schafer broke right back and served out the 7-6 (6), 6-1 victory that propelled the Gamecocks into the quarterfinals for the second-straight season.
South Carolina will take on second-seeded Texas A&M, ranked 11th in the nation, on Friday at 1 p.m. (ET).
#30 South Carolina 4, #33 Alabama 1Doubles (Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2*)
1. (15) Becker O'Shaughnessey/Daniil Proskura (AL) def. (23) Chip Cox/ Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 8-3
2. Andrew Adams/Kyle Koch (SC) def. Sean Donohue/Stuart Kenyon (AL) 8-4
3. Thiago Pinheiro/Andrew Schafer (SC) def. Andrew Goodwin/Nikko Madregallejo (AL) 8-3
Singles (Order of Finish: 5, 2, 4, 6*)