Kanakova Clinches Gamecocks' Thrilling 4-3 Win at Auburn
April 1, 2012
AUBURN, Ala. -- The No. 38 South Carolina women's tennis team used a complete team effort Sunday to pull out a 4-3 victory at No. 62 Auburn. The Gamecocks improved to 12-6 on the year and 3-5 in the SEC with the win, while Auburn fell to 8-9 and 3-5 in the league.
The Gamecocks gave a phenomenal effort in doubles to earn a 1-0 lead heading to singles play. South Carolina trailed on all three courts before mounting an incredible comeback to win courts one and two. Prior to winning those two matches, Auburn held off South Carolina's No. 3 squad of Josefin Andersson and Katerina Popova by a 9-7 score. The Tiger duo of Olivia Bennet and Plamena Kurteva had a 7-2 advantage on the Gamecocks before Andersson and Popova fought back to win five straight games to make it 7-all.
On court one, South Carolina's Anya Morgina and Jaklin Alawi fell behind 2-0 to Emily Flickinger and Jackie Kasler, but they rebounded quickly to get the match back on serve. Once their match went to 7-all, the pair held and got a break of serve to earn a 9-7 victory, setting up for an exciting finish on court two.
Auburn's No. 36-ranked tandem of Jen Pfeifler and Paulina Schippers had a 7-3 advantage on Dominika Kanakova and Adriana Pereira, but the Gamecocks came all the way back to force a tiebreaker. In the breaker, Carolina jumped ahead 6-2, but Pfeifler and Schippers won three straight points to keep themselves alive. On the next rally, Schippers fired a forehand right at Kanakova, who was at the net. Kanakova blocked it back with a two-handed backhand volley that sailed just over the charging Auburn team's heads and caught the baseline to give the Gamecocks a 1-0 advantage.
In singles, Carolina had the upper hand on four courts in the early goings of the matches. At one, Morgina ended up making short work of Pfeifler, winning 6-1, 6-2, and Alawi did the same with Flickinger at the No. 2 position by picking up a 6-2, 6-2 victory. Sandwiched between those two Gamecock victories, however, was a win by the Tigers on court six with Lauren Levant defeating Andersson 6-3, 6-0.
Popova was in control of her match at No. 4 singles against Kasler, winning the first set 6-1 and pulling ahead quickly 3-0 in the second. Kasler, though, stayed tough on the court and made the second set score 3-all before Popova claimed the next game for a 4-3 lead. Unfortunately, it was the last game Popova would win, as Kasler ran away with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-0 triumph to pull her team back to 3-2.
The final two matches on court at three and five saw the Gamecocks' Kanakova and Pereira each down a set in their contests. At the No. 5 spot, Pereira had a 5-3 lead in the first set on Schippers, but she ended up losing four straight games to close out the set. In the second, Pereira battled her way through to pick up a 6-4 win to force a deciding set. The third belonged to Schippers, though, who snagged a 5-0 lead before going on to win 6-1 to make the team score 3-all.
Kanakova dropped her first set to Kurteva 6-2 and she fell behind 4-2 in the second. Still trailing 5-4, Kanakova managed to break Kurteva to make it 5-all, but her opponent came right back with a break of her own to lead 6-5. Kanakova responded again by breaking Kurteva's serve to get to a tiebreaker, which she won 7-4 to force a decisive third set.
Kanakova had a 2-1 lead after the first three games, but Kurteva then won two straight to make it 3-2 and put the match back on serve. After holding in the sixth game, Kanakova got a break to go up 4-3 at the changeover. She nearly went ahead 5-3 after taking a 30-love lead on her serve in the ensuring game, but Kurteva fought back to get a break for 4-all. Kanakova broke serve yet again in the next game for a chance to serve out the match. After getting to deuce, Kanakova had two match points in the 10th game but was unable to capitalize on both of them and Kurteva held on to get the break. Kanakova got her final break of serve in the next game for her second chance to serve out the match. This time, Kanakova outlasted her exhausted opponent on the court, using relentless side-to-side ball movement during the points to pick up a 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 win for South Carolina.
The Gamecocks will return home for their final three regular-season matches on April 6, 8 and 14. South Carolina hosts LSU on April 6 at 3 p.m., Arkansas on April 8 at noon, and Florida on April 14 at 11 a.m.
Order of Finish: 1, 6, 2, 4, 5, 3
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2