March 25, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The No. 32 South Carolina women's tennis team picked up a 4-0 win versus Mississippi State on Sunday in Columbia, S.C. The Gamecocks upped their record to 11-5 overall and 2-4 in the SEC with the win while the Bulldogs dipped to 6-9 and 0-6 in league play.
"We played really well," interim head coach Katarina Petrovic said. "I thought we were really good in doubles today. I can't be more proud of my team right now. It was a tough match, but we managed to win."
The match was delayed by 50 minutes because of a light rain shower that begin approximately 15 minutes before the contest's 1 p.m. start. Once doubles began, the Gamecocks picked up a sweep to earn a 1-0 lead heading to singles play. Anya Morgina and Jaklin Alawi finished first with an 8-5 win over Alexandra Perper and Naomi Tran on court one. Josefin Andersson and Katerina Popova provided the clinching point at No. 3 doubles with an 8-2 win against Roseline Dion and Petra Ferancova. It marked the duo's sixth consecutive victory. Adriana Pereira and Dominika Kanakova finished off doubles by earning an 8-4 triumph over Ekaterina Iakovleva and Olesya Tsigvintseva on court two.
South Carolina got off to a slow start in singles play at the top three positions, going down 3-1 on all three courts. Alawi recovered, though, to win the first set 7-5 on court two against Tsigvintseva despite finding herself still down 5-4 after nine games. Morgina ended up losing her first set 6-4 to Perper at the No. 1 position. Kanakova came back to lead Iakovleva 5-3, but Iakovleva responded by tying it up at 5-all.
At the bottom three, the Gamecocks dominated courts four and five. Popova jumped on Tran 3-0 before finishing out the set with a 6-3 win. At five, Pereira blanked Ferancova 6-0 and was ahead 5-0 and 15-30 on Ferancova's serve in the second set when another rain delay stopped play. On court six, Andersson picked up a 6-4 victory in the first set against Dion just before the rain hit at 3:47 p.m.
After waiting 20 minutes with heavy rainfall, the match was forced to move inside. With only four courts available at the USC Field House, both coaches agreed to stop play after one school had secured the win due to the Bulldogs' travel arrangements.
When play resumed, Popova coasted past Tran on court four to win 6-3, 6-0 to put Carolina on top 2-0. Alawi snagged the next win for the Gamecocks with a 7-5, 6-2 win against Tsigvintseva. After finishing a 10-minute warm-up following Popova's match, Pereira used a winner and a double fault to claim her win against Ferancova to clinch the match for South Carolina with a 6-0, 6-0 triumph.
For Popova, her straight set win extended her winning streak to seven matches and improved her record to 19-8 on the season. Popova has won 11 of her past 12 matches and stands 13-3 in dual matches, the top record on the team. She has a 5-1 mark in SEC matches playing the No. 4 singles court, the best mark for the Gamecocks as well.
"During the recruiting process, I saw great tennis from Katerina," Petrovic said. "She's the kind of player who always manages to win in the end. I know she struggled a little bit last year, but this is Katerina Popova playing her kind of tennis now."
Morgina ended up winning the second set 6-4 versus Perper at No. 1 singles and the two were resting for the third set when Pereira secured the win. Kanakova lost the first set to Iakovleva in a tiebreaker, 7-3, and was trailing 3-0 in the second when play was suspended. Andersson and Dion had just begun warming up when the No. 5 singles match finished.
The Gamecocks head to Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Auburn, Ala., next Friday and Sunday for their final two regular-season road matches of the year against No. 15 Alabama and No. 64 Auburn.
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