Jan. 27, 2012
ATLANTA -- The No. 27-ranked South Carolina women's tennis team (2-0) scored a 4-1 victory over No. 43 William & Mary (0-2) on Friday in the first round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Atlanta. The Gamecocks will face either No. 54 Georgia State or No. 13 Georgia Tech on Saturday at 2 p.m. for a shot at qualifying for the ITA National Team Indoor Championship over Feb. 10-13 in Charlottesville, Va.
"I thought we were the better team out here talent-wise, and I think also in conditioning we were better," head coach Arlo Elkins said. "At the end on the last three courts, they had to call out trainers for minor injuries and we were still out there hustling strong. So, I think conditioning paid off for us as well as the talent level. Even though the matches were tight, I felt we were going to win."
The Gamecocks took the doubles point with wins on courts one and two. At one, Jaklin Alawi and Dijana Stojic cruised to an 8-3 win over Maria Belaya and Jeltje Loomans. Anya Morgina and Josefin Andersson clinched the point on court two, beating Anik Cepeda and Hope Johnson 8-5. Morgina and Andersson led 4-2, but Cepeda and Johnson pulled even at 5-all. The Gamecock duo then won three straight to close out the match. The No. 3 doubles match between Dominika Kanakova and Katerina Popova of Carolina and Katie Kargl and Marlen Mesgarzadeh of William & Mary was suspended with the Tribe leading 6-4.
While both teams struggled in singles, the Gamecocks managed to do enough to earn the victory. Morgina put South Carolina ahead 2-0 following a 6-3, 6-4 performance over Loomans at the No. 1 position, but the Tribe received its first point soon afterward with Mesgarzadeh beating Alawi 6-3, 6-4 on court two.
The remaining matches on court all went three sets. At five, Kanakova suffered an 11-9 loss in a first set tiebreaker to Johnson, but she came back to win 6-3 in the second. In the third, Kanakova grabbed the upper hand with a 2-1 lead and then never looked back, as she went on to win 6-4 to put South Carolina just one point from clinching the match.
Prior to Kanakova's victory, it appeared Popova would provide the third point after winning the first set of her No. 4 singles match 6-3 versus Cepeda. Popova fell behind 4-2 in the second but fought back to lead 5-4 with a chance to serve out the match. Cepeda shrugged off two match points at 40-15 and eventually won the game and later forced a tiebreaker, which she won.
Pereira looked as if she might provide the fourth point after Kanakova's win after taking a 6-5 lead in the third of her match with Kargl on court six. Pereira actually trailed 5-4 in the third before holding serve and then getting a break for a chance to serve it out. She went ahead 40-15 in the game for double match point, but Kargl came back to send the contest into a tiebreaker.
While Pereira was pulling ahead in the tiebreaker, Popova had gone ahead 5-3 with a chance to serve out the match again. It became a race to the finish to see which Gamecock would provide the clinching point and it was Popova who earned the win. Pereira had her match suspended with a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker.
Stojic had her match at No. 2 singles suspended as well with a 5-4 lead in the third over Belaya. She lost the first set in a tiebreaker and trailed 4-2 in the second but rallied to win the second set 7-5. Stojic also trailed 3-2 in third before winning three of the next four games to pull ahead.
Order of Finish: 1, 2, 5, 4
Order of Finish: 1, 2
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