Men's Tennis Releases 2014 Schedule
Nov. 6, 2013
COLUMBIA, S .C. - South Carolina men's tennis announced its 24-match 2014 spring schedule, which includes 20 teams that finished the 2013 season ranked nationally, 17 of which participated in the NCAA tournament. The Gamecocks will host 11 matches with four of last year's top-15 teams visiting Columbia. Head coach Josh Goffi has fortified the traditionally challenging SEC schedule with non-conference opponents stretching from South Florida to San Diego.
South Carolina will open the season with a doubleheader against Furman and The Citadel (Jan. 10) before heading to ITA Kickoff Weekend in Starkville, Miss. The familiar courts at Mississippi State will see South Carolina take on Memphis, which closed last season ranked No. 20, in the opening round. Based on that match, the Gamecocks could face either their SEC rival and tournament host or Harvard, which finished 28th in the nation last season. The team that wins both matches of the weekend will advance to the National Team Indoor Championship in College Station, Texas, Feb. 14-17.
"Everything we do every day revolves around our ultimate goal of contending for SEC and NCAA titles, and having a tough and diverse schedule is one of the most crucial components of achieving those goals," Goffi said. "There's no doubt that it's challenging, but we want to have a chance at doing something big, we have to put ourselves up against the best. This schedule is exactly what this team needs in order to grow into that title contender. I'm looking forward to seeing how our players respond."
Following Kickoff Weekend, the Gamecocks ease back into their schedule with a trip to Georgia Tech (Jan. 31) and another home doubleheader (Feb. 2) featuring Middle Tennessee State, which finished 19-8 last season, and Winthrop.
Annual Atlantic Coast Conference battles against Wake Forest (Feb. 7) and NC State (Feb. 9) take place on the road this season. The Gamecocks will be looking to avenge last season's tight 4-3 loss to the Demon Deacons at the USC Fieldhouse.
Schedule newcomers South Florida (Feb. 21) and San Diego (Feb. 23) will travel to Columbia for what the Gamecocks hope will be their first outdoor matches of the season at beautiful Carolina Tennis Center. The USF Bulls closed out the 2013 campaign ranked No. 74 in the nation, while San Diego is hoping to build on its No. 49 final ranking and second-round NCAA Tournament showing last season.
SEC play opens with a tough three-match road swing, starting at Texas A&M (Mar. 2), a round of 16 finisher in the NCAA Tournament that closed the season at No. 14 in the nation. The annual trip to archrival Clemson (Mar. 5), which was 21st in the nation at the end of last season, precedes a visit to the Florida Gators, who were 16th in the final 2013 rankings.
Back in the friendly confines of Carolina Tennis Center, the Gamecocks host the first of two of the toughest weekends in college tennis when Georgia (Mar. 14) and Tennessee (Mar. 16) come to town. Alabama (Mar. 21) and Auburn (Mar. 23), both top-35 teams at the end of 2013, visit the following weekend. South Carolina travels to LSU (Mar. 28) and Arkansas (Mar. 30) to set up the home stretch of the SEC season.
The Gamecocks host their final two home matches against the SEC's Mississippi schools, both of whom narrowly defeated South Carolina on their home courts last season. Ole Miss (Apr. 4), which was in the top 10 at the end of last season, opens the weekend, followed by NCAA Tournament round of 16 finisher Mississippi State (Apr. 6), which was ranked 11th in the final 2013 rankings. South Carolina heads to Kentucky (Apr. 11), the ninth-ranked team at the end of 2013, and Vanderbilt (Apr. 13), a round of 16 team in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, to set the stage for postseason action.
The SEC Tournament begins on Wed., April 17, at Vanderbilt. NCAA Tournament action is slated to begin on campus sites on Fri., May 10, with the championship rounds being played in Athens, Ga., beginning on Thu., May. 16.
Admission and parking for all South Carolina men's tennis home matches are free. The Gamecocks will play their early season matches at the USC Fieldhouse, moving to Carolina Tennis Center in late February, weather permitting.