April 5, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The 29th-ranked South Carolina women's tennis team survived a tough contest with Mississippi State on Friday evening at Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. The Gamecocks' 4-3 victory marked their third straight SEC win and improved their overall record to 12-8 while getting their conference ledger to 5-5. The Bulldogs dropped to 7-11 and 1-9 in league play.
The Gamecocks had little trouble taking the doubles point from the Bulldogs. After dropping the first game on court three, Alex Martin and Adriana Pereira jumped ahead to a 3-2 lead on Petra Ferancova and Lien Van Geel. After trading games for the next two frames, Carolina won four straight games with Pereira serving it out for an 8-3 triumph.
Josefin Andersson and Katerina Popova wasted no time jumping on top of Mississippi State's No. 56-ranked duo of Alexandra Perper and Naomi Tran. The Gamecock duo grabbed a 4-0 advantage to get the match underway before surrendering a couple games to Perper and Tran. Andersson and Popova then fired right back with four more games in a row to improve to 13-3 this spring following an 8-2 win.
At No. 2 doubles, South Carolina's Elixane Lechemia and Ximena Siles Luna fell behind 2-0 to Georgiana Patrasc and Roseline Dion, but they responded by winning six straight games. The Bulldogs got the next game to make it 6-3 and with the score at deuce in the 10th game, Andersson and Popova secured the doubles point and the No. 2 match was suspended.
The Bullodogs responded by tying the match at 1-all with Van Geel defeating Martin in straight sets at the No. 6 spot 6-3, 6-2. Carolina answered with two wins coming within less than a minute of each other. No. 98 Popova finished just ahead of Andersson on court one with a 6-4, 6-0 triumph over No. 124 Patrasc. Andersson upended Ferancova 7-5, 6-2 at the No. 4 spot to make the score 3-1 for Carolina.
The remaining three matches on court all had South Carolina in a hole. At two, Lechemia lost the first set to Perper 6-4 but she was ahead 5-4 in the second. On four, Siles Luna lost the first set to Tran 6-3 and she trailed 3-2 in the second. Pereira lost a hotly contested first set to Dion 7-5 at the No. 5 position, but she jumped ahead 2-0 to begin the second set.
Lechemia looked to push her match to a third set up 5-4, but Perper came back to make the score 5-all. Lechemia regained the advantage at 6-5, but Perper forced a tiebreaker by holding serve. On her second set point of the breaker, Lechemia received an unforced error from Perper that extended the match to a third set.
On court three, Siles Luna fell behind 4-2 to Tran but managed to snag a couple games to make the score 4-all. With the set on serve, Tran got a critical break from Siles Luna after going to deuce for a chance to serve out the match.
Pereira got a 3-1 advantage from Dion and appeared well on her way to a third set, but Dion went on a tear and ripped off five consecutive games to pick up the 7-5, 6-3 victory. Moments before Dion's win, Tran finished off Siles Luna with a hold of serve for a 6-3, 6-4 final.
Tied 3-all on the team scoreboard, Lechemia got off to a hot start in the third set by breaking serve and then holding for a 2-0 upper hand. After going to deuce in the third game, Lechemia capitalized on several unforced errors by Perper to push ahead 3-0. Lechemia held her serve in the next game before Perper finally got on the board with a hold to make it 4-1 on the changeover. Perper managed to break Lechemia after going to deuce several times in the ensuing game to trim the deficit even more and then recovered from 0-30 on her serve to trail by just one game 4-3. Another break of serve by Perper got the match back on serve and tied 4-all to set up a thrilling finish.
Lechemia came out firing on Perper's serve, ripping two winners for the 0-30 lead. Another strong overhead at the net made the score 15-40. Perper, however, fought off both game points to force deuce. Perper hit a forehand that sailed long on the next rally to give Lechemia the ad, and the junior finished the next point with a powerful overhead smash at the net out of Perper's reach for a chance to serve out the match up 5-4.
Perper's return on Lechemia's second serve to start the game fell beyond the baseline to make the score 15-0 and Lechemia extended it to 30-0 with a winner down the line on the next point. Perper fought back, though, and won three straight rallies for game point. Lechemia responded with a forehand volley winner at the net for yet another deuce game. Perper grabbed the ad with a powerful forehand winner, but it went back to deuce when her backhand service return on the next point went long trying to lob a charging Lechemia. Perper got another chance to break with an unforced error by Lechemia and she capitalized with a backhand winner down the line when Lechemia came to the net on her serve.
Lechemia pulled ahead 15-30 on Perper's serve at 5-all and got to game point at 30-40 with an overhead at the net. Perper forced deuce, but two critical double faults over the next few rallies severely hurt Perper's odds of holding onto the game. The first was on ad in, but the worst of the pair came on ad out, and Lechemia attempted to serve out the match for the second time.
The two split the first couple of rallies for 15-15, but more miscues plagued Perper in the game. A pair of consecutive failed returns of serve gave Lechemia a 40-15 lead and she went on to win the match with a forehand volley putaway at the net for the 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 victory. Lechemia improved to 7-5 on the spring and 4-5 in the SEC.
South Carolina will host No. 37 Ole Miss on Sunday at Carolina Tennis Center at 1:30 p.m. in the final regular-season home match of the year. Prior to the contest, seniors Jaklin Alawi, Andersson and Pereira will be honored for their contributions to the University during their careers.
|POS||SOUTH CAROLINA||MISSISSIPPI STATE||WINNER||SCORE||FINISH|
|1||#98 Katerina Popova||#124 Georgiana Patrasc||South Carolina||6-4, 6-0||2|
|2||Elixane Lechemia||Alexandra Perper||South Carolina||4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5||6|
|3||Ximena Siles Luna||Naomi Tran||Mississippi State||6-3, 6-4||4|
|4||Josefin Andersson||Petra Ferancova||South Carolina||7-5, 6-2||3|
|5||Adriana Pereira||Roseline Dion||Mississippi State||7-5, 6-3||5|
|6||Alex Martin||Lien Van Geel||Mississippi State||6-3, 6-2||1|
|POS||SOUTH CAROLINA||MISSISSIPPI STATE||WINNER||SCORE||FINISH|
|1||Popova/Andersson||#56 Perper/Tran||South Carolina||8-2||2|
|2||Lechemia/Siles Luna||Dion/Patrasc||Unfinished||SC led 6-3|
|3||Martin/Pereira||Ferancova/Van Geel||South Carolina||8-3||1|