Gamecocks Hit the Road for ITA Kickoff Weekend
Jan. 24, 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. - No. 18 South Carolina continues its spring campaign as the Gamecocks travel to Starkville, Miss., to the ITA Kickoff Weekend Jan. 25-26. The Gamecocks open against No. 21 Memphis on Saturday at 10 a.m. (CT) before facing either No. 13 Mississippi State or No. 26 Harvard on Sunday. The weekend's winner advances to the ITA National Indoor Championship in Houston, Texas, on Feb. 14-17.
"Practice has been phenomenal this week with the energy and excitement picking up right where we left off last year," head coach Josh Goffi said. "We're ready to go into this weekend's matches and qualify for National Indoors, which is a big goal of ours this season. Everyone understands that on the team, and they understand the opportunity in front of us. We have a mature team with a mature outlook on what we want to do this weekend. We don't feel pressure to win the weekend, but we're ready go to battle, and they're excited to get in there and fight."
South Carolina dominated its season-opening doubleheader, posting shutouts against Furman and The Citadel. The Gamecocks were strong in doubles with all three teams recording at least one victory in the doubleheader. South Carolina's nationally ranked duo of Chip Cox and Kyle Koch, No. 24 this week, set the pace early, and the international tandem of Tsvetan Mihov and Thiago Pinheiro won both of its matches. In singles, the Gamecocks also had a solid showing. Junior Andrew Adams made his 2013-14 debut with a pair of convincing wins, and South Carolina's freshmen - No. 91 Andrew Schafer and Sam Swank - shook off early nerves in their dual-match debuts to win both their matches as well. Joining Schafer with early-season singles rankings are Mihov, who enters his senior season in the No. 41 spot, and Koch, whose No. 103 is his first career singles rank.
Memphis is 2-1, starting its spring schedule at the Georgia Tech Invitational with wins over No. 10 Ole Miss and Georgia Tech and its lone loss coming to No. 3 Georgia. Head coach Paul Goebel's experienced roster of all but one upperclassman is led by the nation's No. 3 doubles duo of David O'Hare and Joe Salisbury. Connor Glennon and Salisbury are ranked in singles, coming in at No. 49 and 56, respectively.
Head coach Per Nilsson of Mississippi State looks to improve on his team's Sweet 16 finish from last season. With a record of 18-10 the Bulldogs ended the season ranked No. 11. In their first matches this season, they swept Jackson State and Alabama State in a doubleheader. Leading the way in doubles is the No. 52 team of sophomore Jordan Angus and senior Malte Stropp, also ranks No. 39 in singles. Five newcomers joined the Bulldogs squad, including No. 63 Florian Lakat; Robin Haden, a top-10 Swedish Junior; Rishab Agarwal; Egbert Weverink and junior college transfer Tassilo Schmid, 2013 NJCAA National Champion and 2012 NJCAA Finalist.
Harvard makes its spring debut this weekend facing host Mississippi State on Saturday. The Crimson boasts a pair of ranked doubles tandems led by Casey MacMaster and Denis Nguyen at No. 17. The duo went 11-2 in the fall, including wins over three top-60 teams. Brian Yeung and Nicky Hu come in at No. 48 after going 10-6 in the fall, highlighted by a trip to the semifinals of the ITA Northeast Regional. On the singles side, Harvard has two entries in the top-100. With a fall record of 10-4 that included a win over the No. 4 player in the country and a trip to the ITA Northeast Regional final, Nguyen holds the No. 44 spot. Freshman Sebastian Beltrame is at No. 81 with a 13-3 record, earning a win over the No. 38 player in the country.
The Gamecocks return to action on Fri., Jan. 31, at 5 p.m. against Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Ga.