March 13, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The No. 44 South Carolina women's tennis team fought its way to a 5-2 triumph over No. 33 Alabama on Sunday at Maxcy Gregg Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. The Gamecocks improved to 8-4 and 2-2 in SEC play, while the Crimson Tide fell to 7-5 and 0-3 in the SEC.
"This was a total team effort today," head coach Arlo Elkins said. "Everybody worked their tails off on every single court. That's what we have to have every single match throughout the rest of the year. When I look back over the past years, I can't remember a match where we had so much energy and so much effort in both the singles and the doubles. This was a total effort in everything we did today, and I can't be prouder with the effort they put in today and the energy they had out here. Hopefully, we'll be able to carry that through some of these other matches coming up."
The Gamecocks' No. 1 doubles team of Dominika Kanakova and Dijana Stojic registered the top victory of their careers together, beating No. 7-ranked Alexa Guarachi and Courtney McLane by an 8-6 count. Kanakova and Stojic earned a critical break of serve up 5-4 with Guarachi serving. Kanakova served out the match with the Gamecocks ahead 7-6.
Alabama answered with a victory at No. 3 doubles from the No. 31-rated duo in the land of Mary Anne Macfarlane and Antonia Foehse. With the match tied at 3-all, the Crimson Tide managed to take a 4-3 advantage on Katerina Popova and Madeleine Saari-Byström and still led 5-4 after the next changeover. Macfarlane and Foehse then built a 7-4 lead before winning 8-5.
On court two, South Carolina's Miljana Jocic and Anya Morgina raced out to a 4-0 lead on Alex Clay and Taylor Lindsey. Clay and Lindsey, though, recovered to win the next six games before Carolina cut the deficit to 6-5. Clay and Lindsey pushed the lead to 7-5, but Jocic and Morgina got the match back to 7-all. The Alabama tandem broke Morgina's serve to charge ahead 8-7, but the Gamecocks countered with a break in the next game to force a tiebreaker.
In the breaker, South Carolina took a 4-2 advantage at the changeover. Morgina and Jocic eventually won the tiebreaker 7-3 thanks in large part to the fact that they dropped only a single point on their serves. Jocic provided the winning point with a high crosscourt backhand volley winner at the net.
"Alabama's doubles has been phenomenal, that's about the only way to describe it," Elkins said. "We really weren't sure what our chances would be in the doubles coming in, and felt we had to play really well in the singles. We played so well in the doubles on all three courts."
Alabama entered the match having lost the doubles point just one time this season. The Crimson Tide's combined dual match record in doubles stood at 23-5 heading into Sunday's match.
In singles, Alabama struck first with a victory at No. 5 singles with Foehse defeating Kanakova in straight sets 6-4, 6-1. The Gamecocks answered back thanks to No. 65-ranked Morgina pulling off her second win against a top-30 foe in less than two weeks. This time, she upended No. 29 Macfarlane at the top position 6-3, 6-4.
South Carolina had to grind out the next two wins to pick up the victory. On court three, Popova took the first set from No. 116 McLane 6-2 and held a 4-1 advantage in the second. McLane, however, fought back to win five straight games to take the set and force a third. In the final set, Popova stormed out to a 3-0 lead and then had another 4-1 upper hand after five games. Popova held strong this time and finished out the set for a 6-2 win and her first career victory against a ranked opponent.
Stojic provided the clinching point for South Carolina just as she did in Friday's match against Auburn. After losing the first set to No. 69 Guarachi on court two 6-2, she stormed out a 3-0 lead in the second. Guarachi then won four straight games and appeared in control of the outcome, but Stojic got the set back to 4-all and then led 5-4. Stojic went on to win the set 7-5. In the third, Stojic fought her way to a 5-4 lead and a chance to serve for the match. Although she did not end the match with an ace as she did Friday, she held serve at love to give South Carolina the victory.
South Carolina then added it final point on court six with Adriana Pereira holding on to defeat Meritt Emery 6-3, 6-7 (7-5), 6-2. The Crimson Tide claimed the final match on court, which also went to three sets. Clay defeated Saari-Byström 6-4, 6-7 (7-3), 6-2 at No. 4 singles.
South Carolina returns to the courts Wednesday when it hosts No. 25 VCU at 2 p.m.
Order of Finish: 5, 1, 3, 2, 6, 4
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2
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