Gamecocks Fight Back to Down No. 17 Clemson 4-3
Feb. 22, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The 26th-ranked South Carolina women's tennis team (5-1) posted a 4-3 victory against rival No. 17 Clemson (7-3) on Wednesday at Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. It marked Carolina's first victory over the Tigers since 2006 when it scored a 4-3 win at the USC Field House on Feb. 19.
"This is always a tough win to get," head coach Arlo Elkins said. "Clemson is very, very good. They're a well-coached team, and I think it's very important that we get these victories whenever we can. It moves us up in the rankings and keeps us going in the direction we want to be moving."
Clemson came away victorious in doubles by winning courts two and three. The Gamecocks struck first with a dominating performance at the No. 1 spot by Jaklin Alawi and Anya Morgina. After taking a 2-1 lead, the South Carolina duo went on to win six straight games against the No. 38-ranked tandem of Keri Wong and Beatrice Gumulya.
On court two, the Gamecocks' Josefin Andersson and Dominika Kanakova fell behind quickly 4-0 to Nelly Ciolkowski and Romy Koelzer before picking up a game. The Tigers then took the next two games to lead 6-1, but Andersson and Kanakova countered to win three straight to cut the deficit to 6-4. Ciolkowski and Koelzer then grabbed a 7-4 advantage, but the Gamecocks fought back again to make it 7-6 and then had double game point at 15-40 on Clemson's serve. The Tigers, however, managed to win four straight points to earn the win at 8-6.
The deciding match on court three saw South Carolina's Adriana Pereira and Katerina Popova leading Monika Kochanova and Klara Vyskocilova 5-3 after eight games. Clemson took control of the match and won four straight games to lead 7-5 before the Gamecocks raced back to make it 7-all. Clemson then broke serve and had two match points up 8-7, but Pereira and Popova fought both off and were able to eventually force a deciding tiebreaker. In the breaker, South Carolina won the first point, but Clemson recovered to win the next seven rallies for a 7-1 triumph.
The Gamecocks picked up two quick victories in singles to snatch a 2-1 lead over Clemson. At one, Morgina defeated Wong 6-4, 6-1 after trailing 3-1 in the first set. Morgina improved to 5-0 this spring atop the lineup for Carolina. In her first singles match of the spring, Andersson scored a lopsided 6-0, 6-2 victory against Kochanova at the No. 6 spot for Carolina's second point.
South Carolina got its third point from Popova at the No. 4 singles position. After cruising to win the first set 6-0 over Vyskocilova, Popova faltered in the second 6-2. The third set ended up being a repeat of the first with Popova blanking Vyskocilova 6-0.
The clinching point came from Alawi on court two with a come-from-behind triumph over Gumulya. After losing the first set 6-4, Alawi scored a 6-1 victory in the second to force a third set. In the third, Gumulya surged ahead 4-2, but Alawi held serve to make it 4-3 at the changeover. Alawi then grabbed the next two games for a 5-4 lead. With Gumulya serving, Alawi went ahead 15-40 and after Gumulya saved one match point, Alawi claimed the next one with a running backhand that Gumulya was unable to handle at the net.
"Playing Clemson, we knew we had to fight all the time," Alawi said. "I saw the girls on courts three and five and they were still fighting, and I thought I should not give up because it's not fair to them. That's how it should be; I always fight to the end and see what happens. Whoever is better, that person wins. There were so many emotions today, and I really wanted to win because I knew we hadn't beaten them in such a long time. I knew today was the day we could do it."
The Tigers took the final two matches on court once the outcome was decided. Koelzer defeated Pereira at the No. 5 slot 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, while Ciolkowski upended Kanakova 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 on court three.
"One of the things we talked about all last year and this year with the team is even if you're losing it's very important that you fight your tail off," Elkins said. "A lot of times, the people who are on the court, even though they lose their matches, they're an important part of the match. If you can fight and stay out there as long as you can, I think that makes a difference in the outcome of the other matches that are playing right next to them."
South Carolina will be at home for its next match Friday versus College of Charleston at 3 p.m.
Order of Finish: 1, 6, 4, 2, 5, 3
Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3