Gamecocks Earn Four Spots in Spring Rankings
Jan. 3, 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina men's tennis enters the 2014 spring campaign ranked No. 18 in the ITA standings released last night. It is the highest the Gamecocks have been ranked to start the spring season since coming in at No. 12 in 2006. South Carolina also has three entries in the singles rankings in All-American Tsvetan Mihov, No. 41, freshman Andrew Schafer at No. 91 and junior Kyle Koch at No. 103. Koch and senior Chip Cox will open the spring ranked No. 24 in doubles.
"The rankings provide a good starting point to the season for us as a team and individually," South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. "They show that we've grown quite a bit in the last few years, but there is still a long way to go if we want to reach our goals. We're excited to get started."
The Gamecocks return six letterwinners from last season's 18-11 squad that made its second straight NCAA Tournanent appearance. Included in that group are five of the six primary singles entries, who helped South Carolina finish tied for third in the SEC East and in the SEC overall - the program's best standing since joining the league - with a 7-5 conference mark. Goffi added two highly rated freshmen to the ledger for 2013-14.
Mihov enters his senior season looking to build on his All-SEC campaign last year, his first in the Garnet and Black. After turning in a 17-12 overall record last season, including a 6-4 SEC mark playing in the top spot in the singles lineup, the Bulgarian went 8-4 this fall, including a 4-1 record against ranked opponents.
Schafer bounded onto the college scene after a strong junior career. His 7-5 record included a great run through pre-qualifying into the qualifying rounds at the ITA All-American Championships. Schafer closed out his first collegiate action at the SEC Fall Classic with a three-set comeback against the preseason No. 39 player from Florida.
Koch earns his first career national singles ranking this season after going 4-5 in fall action. The junior from Irmo, S.C., has been the Gamecocks' most prolific winner in each of the last two seasons, playing mostly in the Nos. 4 and 5 spots in the singles lineup. Last season's 22-14 singles record included a 9-1 mark in SEC action, which is among the best league winning percentages in school history.
The doubles team of Cox and Koch moved up two spots in the rankings from the fall mark after going 4-4 this fall. The duo teamed up to win a tournament late in the summer to earn a spot in the ITA All-American Championships and kept rolling from there. They advanced to the semifinals of the SEC Fall Classic to open the season, defeating a nationally ranked team along the way.
Goffi and the Gamecocks return to campus next week to begin preseason training, and the season begins on Sun., Jan. 19 with a doubleheader against Furman (10 a.m.) and The Citadel (4 p.m.) at the USC Fieldhouse. Admission and parking for all tennis matches is free.