No. 18 Gamecocks Begin Season With Sunday Doubleheader|
Jan. 17, 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. - No. 18 South Carolina men's tennis opens its spring schedule with a doubleheader on Sun., Jan. 19, at the Carolina Tennis Center. The Gamecocks will host Furman at 10 a.m. followed by a 4 p.m. match against The Citadel. The Gamecocks are starting the season with the highest ranking since 2006 and return six letterwinners, including All-American Tsvetan Mihov, who is ranked No. 41 in singles.
"With all things considered, I think practice has been really good, probably the best we've had in my tenure here," South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. "We're working through some injuries right now, but I'm looking for how the guys compete. Effort will be a given, but it's more how they go about their business and their game plan, establishing their game, and doing all the necessary things correctly that's what we'll be looking at."
The Gamecocks finished their 2012-13 campaign with an overall record of 18-11 and their second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Other accolades included tying for third in the SEC East and overall, boasting a 7-5 conference mark, which was the program's best standing since joining the league.
South Carolina returns five of its six singles positions from last season with Thiago Pinheiro and Andrew Adams joining Mihov with All-SEC honors. Junior Kyle Koch also returns after a stellar 9-1 SEC mark last season, and he enters the 2014 campaign with his first career national ranking, coming in at No. 103. Goffi also added two freshman standouts with Andrew Schafer, who earned a No. 91 ranking this spring after a standout fall effort, and four-Star recruit Sam Swank.
Furman is 3-1 with wins over Mercer, South Alabama and Florida A&M and its lone loss coming to No. 36 Florida State at the Seminole Quad. The Paladins will face off with No. 23 Clemson prior to their trip to Columbia. Furman returns 10 players from last season, during which it registered a 9-14 overall record and a 5-5 mark in Southern Conference play. They return standouts Matt Browne, who was named to the SoCon All-Freshman Team last season, and senior SoCon First-Team singles player Andrew Mellow.
As for The Citadel, Hall of Fame coach Chuck Kriese is making his debut as the Bulldogs' head coach. Last season's youthful squad posted a 5-18 record, but eight players return, six of whom are juniors. The Citadel began its 2013-14 season at the Central Florida Winter Tournament, which also included No. 36 Florida State and Florida A&M.
South Carolina will follow this week's opening doubleheader with a trip to Starkville, Miss., for the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. The Gamecocks face No. 21 Memphis on Jan. 25th at 10 a.m. at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.