Gamecocks Host SEC Matches This Weekend
March 13, 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. - No. 48 South Carolina hosts SEC matches this weekend for the first time this season. The Gamecocks will take on No. 16 Georgia on Fri., Mar. 14, at 5 p.m. at Carolina Tennis Center with No. 14 Tennessee visiting on Sun., Mar. 16, at 1 p.m. South Carolina has been playing well since league play began and is looking for a signature win to set the tone for the rest of SEC action.
The Gamecocks are 7-7 on the season and 0-2 in league action but have been knocking on the door of a win their last two times out. Senior Chip Cox has lifted his game in his final season in the Garnet and Black, posting a 10-2 dual-match record that includes the team's lone singles point at Florida last Sunday. His success has earned him a move up to the No. 4 spot in the Gamecocks' singles lineup this week. The Myrtle Beach, S.C., native also teams with Tsvetan Mihov to form the nation's 56th-ranked doubles team. Reunited on the doubles court last week after a successful 2013 spring campaign, the duo posted a pair of wins, including one over the ninth-ranked tandem in the nation. Mihov is also ranked in singles, holding onto the No. 80 spot this week. Freshman Andrew Schafer returned to the national rankings this week, coming in at No. 125 after winning five of his last six matches, the lone loss coming in three sets to the No. 62 player in the country.
Georgia brings an 8-5 record, including a perfect 3-0 slate in SEC action, into the weekend. The Bulldogs are coming off a dramatic 4-3 win over top-ranked Ohio State on Wednesday, and their league victories have been dominant ones over Tennessee, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. No. 25 Nathan Pasha plays at the top of the Bulldogs' singles lineup with a 23-8 overall record, including a 6-4 mark in dual matches. No. 13 Austin Smith is a near lock in the No. 2 spot in the order, posting a 5-1 record there to improve to 26-9 overall. Two other Bulldogs boast national rankings - No. 79 Garrett Brasseaux, who plays in the No. 4 spot in the lineup, and No. 87 Ben Wagland, who is 3-3 so far in the No. 3 position. It was doubles that set the stage for Wednesday's win over Ohio State as the nation's No. 21 team of Wagland and Hernus Pieters improved to 13-8 overall with a point-clinching win over the No. 9 team in the country.
Tennessee is 12-5 this season, 1-2 in SEC play, and heads to Florida before coming to Columbia on Sunday. The Vols got in the win column in SEC play with last week's 4-3 victory over then-No. 17 Mississippi State, improving to 4-2 against top-25 teams this season. Ranked No. 22 in the nation, Hunter Reese plays in the No. 2 spot in the Tennessee singles lineup, posting a 7-1 record there that lifts his season slate to 22-7. No. 34 Mikelis Libietis plays at the top of the lineup, where he has won four of his last five outings to improve to 16-9 on the season, 9-6 in dual-match play. The two juniors combine to form the nation's second-ranked doubles team with a 24-3 record this season. The pair has played together for several seasons, amassing a 61-18 career mark for the Vols.
The Gamecocks will continue their four-match home stand next weekend, hosting No. 45 Alabama on Fri., Mar. 21, at 5 p.m. and No. 33 Auburn on Sun., Mar. 23, at noon.