No. 16 South Carolina Hosts Mississippi State Friday
March 26, 2009
COLUMBIA, S.C. - No. 16 South Carolina men's tennis returns to Southeastern Conference play this weekend with a split doubleheader. The Gamecocks open the weekend at Sam Daniel Tennis Center against No. 55 Mississippi State at 2 p.m. on Fri., March 27, before traveling to No. 2 Ole Miss for a 2 p.m. (ET) match on Sun., Mar. 29. Carolina is 14-3 overall and 2-2 in SEC action, while Mississippi State has a 5-8 mark, which includes a 1-3 slate in league play. The Ole Miss Rebels are 14-2 on the season with a perfect 4-0 mark in SEC matches, heading into Friday's match at Florida.
The Gamecocks have won their last two outings, both against Atlantic Coast Conference schools, including Wednesday's 6-1 win over archrival Clemson. The bottom of the singles lineup has been cranking the wins since SEC play began on March 6. Junior Ivan Cressoni is on a team-best three-match win streak, dating back to his straight-set win over Kentucky's No. 6 singles player. In the past two non-conference outings, the last three spots in the singles lineup have decided the match with sophomore Johannes Pulsfort's No. 6 singles match clinching the win over Wake Forest and freshman Ivan Machado's comeback victory at No. 4 singles sealing the win over Clemson. Junior Diego Cubas, ranked No. 50 in the country, has a team-best 20-7 singles record, including a 9-6 mark in the No. 1 slot of dual matches. He snapped a two-match skid with an efficient win in the Clemson match Wednesday, while he and Machado continue to dominate in the No. 1 doubles position with a 12-5 record, including a 10-4 mark in dual matches.
Mississippi State comes to Columbia looking to snap a four-match losing streak, although two of those losses were against top-30 teams. The Bulldogs' lone SEC victory was a 4-3 decision at then-No. 20 Auburn, which launched MSU from No. 75 in the rankings to No. 48. Losses to then-No. 41 Oklahoma and then-No. 54 Virginia Commonwealth have the Bulldogs down to No. 55 this week. Senior Ryan Farlow was ranked 108th in the country last week with a 9-16 overall record, including a 3-9 slate in the No. 1 singles position. The Bulldogs' No. 2 doubles team of Antonio Lastre and Daniel Sanchez has had the most success this season with a 7-1 dual-match record.
Ole Miss has won seven straight since suffering a 4-3 loss at then-No. 10 Baylor on Feb. 27. The Rebels have four singles players ranked among the top 95 players in the country, headlined by senior Jonas Berg at No. 31. Berg has a 21-7 record this season, including a 9-3 dual match slate. He has played all four SEC matches in the No. 1 position, going 2-2, but is also a perfect 5-0 overall in the No. 2 spot. Freshman Devin Britton is right on Berg's heels, ranked No. 34 last week with an 8-6 dual-match record, including a 2-2 mark in SEC play, splitting time at the Nos. 2 and 3 positions. Junior Kalle Norberg is ranked No. 41 behind a 22-3 overall record, highlighted by a 10-1 mark in dual matches. He has done a bulk of his work in the No. 3 spot, where he is 7-1. Senior Bram ten Berge rounds out the quartet of ranked Rebels at No. 93. He is 20-9 on the season with a 10-5 record in dual matches, splitting time between the Nos. 3 and 4 positions. The Netherlands product teams with Berg to form the nation's No. 2 doubles team behind a 20-7 overall record, including a 7-7 mark against top-20 opponents.
South Carolina is 8-12 against Mississippi State in the 16-year series, although the Gamecocks have won six of the last seven contests. Carolina is 5-4 against the Bulldogs in matches played in Columbia, including each of the last four. The Bulldogs won the most recent meeting, a 4-2 decision last season in Starkville, but the last time MSU won in Columbia was on March 4, 2001, when the then-No. 22 Bulldogs shut out the No. 51 Gamecocks 7-0.
The Gamecocks are 7-16 in the all-time series with Ole Miss with their last victory coming in a 4-1 upset of the then-No. 3 Rebels on April 2, 2004.