April 19, 2012
STARKVILLE, Miss. - No. 39 South Carolina took No. 17 Auburn down to the wire, but dropped a 4-2 decision to the Tigers in the first round of the SEC Tournament at A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre Thursday morning. Auburn, the tournament's No. 7 seed claimed the doubles point and jumped out to an early lead in singles before the 10th-seeded Gamecocks battled back with wins from freshmen Thiago Pinheiro and Andrew Adams, while senior Ivan Machado rallied to force a third set in his match.
"I couldn't be more proud of the team today," South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. "It was looking pretty bleak for the first two hours of the match, but we dug deep and found a way back in. Unfortunately, we didn't get the win, but it does show the progress these young guys have made. Our team has grown in so many ways throughout the season, and I know we will continue to do so."
The Gamecocks swept the doubles matches in the regular-season matchup with the Tigers nearly three weeks ago, but Auburn turned the tables in the postseason. In a battle of top-25 tandems, Auburn's 14th-ranked duo of Alex Stamchev and Andreas Mies knocked off 24th-ranked Chip Cox and Nick Jones 8-5 at the top of the lineup to clinch the point for the Tigers.
Auburn kept the pressure on with quick 6-1 wins in the first sets of the Nos. 1 and 3 matches. The advantage stretched further with another first-set victory in the No. 5 match before the Gamecocks got on the board. Pinheiro and fellow freshman Kyle Koch carried the early momentum for South Carolina, winning their first sets 6-4 in the Nos. 4 and 6 matches. Behind an early service break, Adams followed shortly with a 6-4 win in his first set to bring the Gamecocks back.
While Pinheiro and Adams had strong openings to their second sets, Auburn extended its lead to 2-0 with a win in the No. 5 match as Lucas Lopasso defeated Cox 6-3, 6-3. Pinheiro cut the deficit in half with a commanding second set, defeating Dennis Lengsfeld 6-4, 6-0. In the top two spots in the order, Machado and Adams were both up a break in their second sets, and Koch was matching Lukas Ollert stroke for stroke in the second set of his No. 6 match.
Machado kept the Gamecocks' hopes for a complete comeback alive with a 6-4 win over No. 18 Andreas Mies in the second set of the No. 1 matchup just ahead of Auburn's Dan Cochrane closing out a 6-1, 6-4 win over Jones in the No. 3 contest. The momentum switched back to the Tigers, though, as Ollert got a late service break to steal the second set from Koch and Meis scored an early break against Machado.
Adams brought South Carolina within 3-2 with his 6-4, 6-3 win over No. 66 Alex Stamchev. It was Adams' third win in his last four outings against a ranked opponent and the highest-ranked win of his career. The match would come down to the top and bottom of the singles lineups.
While Koch continued to go toe-to-toe with Ollert, Machado struggled to contain Mies. The Tigers' junior went on to clinch the victory for his team with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 win over Machado. The Koch-Ollert match was suspended in a dead heat 6-4, 5-7, 4-4. Auburn advances to play second-seed Georgia on Friday morning.
South Carolina is 15-11 on the season and will await the NCAA Tournament selections on May 1 to see if its season will continue at the event, which is played at campus sites for the first and second rounds beginning May 11.
No. 17 Auburn 4, No. 39 South Carolina 2Doubles (Order of Finish: 3, 1)
1. (14) Alex Stamchev/Andreas Mies (AU) def. (24) Chip Cox/Nick Jones (SC) 8-5
2. Dennis Lengsfeld/Lucas Lopasso (AU) led Ivan Machado/Thiago Pinheiro (SC) 7-3 DNF
3. Daniel Cochrane/Lukas Alert (AU) def. Kyle Koch/Carl Eguez (SC) 8-4
Singles (Order of Finish: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1)
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