April 7, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The 29th-ranked South Carolina women's tennis team celebrated Senior Day with a 4-0 triumph over No. 37 Ole Miss on Sunday at Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. It marked the fourth straight SEC win for the Gamecocks, putting them over .500 in the league at 6-5 while also improving them to 13-8 overall. The Rebels dipped to 10-11 and 4-7 in the SEC.
South Carolina won a thrilling doubles point to mark the 16th time the Gamecocks have taken the doubles in 20 attempts this season. The 50th-ranked doubles team of Jaklin Alawi and Dominika Kanakova, however, were not part of the exciting finish, instead putting on a clinic against Ole Miss's No. 53-rated duo of Caroline Rohde-Moe and Marija Milutinovic on court one. After both teams held serve to make it 1-all, the Gamecocks captured the next seven games to earn an 8-1 victory. Alawi and Kanakova improved to 22-8 on the season with the win while moving to 13-3 in dual match play.
The Rebels were still in control of the doubles, though, despite Carolina's win on court one. At two, Erin Stephens and Iris Verboven jumped ahead of Josefin Andersson and Katerina Popova 6-2 and later led 7-3. At the No. 3 position, Julia Jones and Allie Robbins took a 5-2 advantage on Elixane Lechemia and Ximena Siles Luna.
South Carolina dug deep and mounted a furious comeback on both courts. On court two, Andersson and Popova broke Ole Miss at love to get back to 7-4 down and in the next stanza, the Gamecocks fought off a match point on Andersson's serve at 30-40 to extend the match further. After holding for 7-5, the Gamecocks won the next three games to give Andersson a chance to serve out the match. Ole Miss countered punched, sending the match to a tiebreaker and took command of it by snatching a 3-0 lead.
Meanwhile, on court three, Lechemia and Siles Luna recovered from their 5-2 deficit by winning three games in a row for 5-all. After losing the 11th game, they broke Ole Miss's serve to deadlock the match once again, and Lechemia followed with a hold of serve at love, the same thing she did the previous time she served. With Ole Miss ahead 6-5 in the tiebreaker on court two with a chance to serve it out, Lechemia and Siles Luna received a double fault from Ole Miss on court three that gave them an 8-6 victory. With the point in hand, the No. 2 doubles match was abandoned.
The momentum Carolina gained in the doubles translated into big gains in singles play. The Gamecocks secured the first set in five of the six matches, and Lechemia finished her opponent quickly on court three to make the score 2-0. She won the first set against No. 82 Mai El Kamash 6-1 and charged ahead 4-0 to begin the second. After El Kamash got the score back to 4-2, Lechemia closed the door on El Kamash for a 6-1, 6-2 win to cap a perfect weekend on the court. The junior from France improved to 8-5 on the spring and 5-5 in SEC match play.
Siles Luna used the confidence boost she received from her comeback victory with Lechemia in doubles to add the next point for the Gamecocks. She battled her way to a 6-3 first set win against Milutinovic at the No. 5 spot but fell behind 2-0 to get the second underway. Siles Luna kept her calm and recovered by winning six consecutive games for a 6-3, 6-2 win that upped her overall record on the season to 18-10.
It appeared No. 98 Popova would provide the clinching point soon after Siles Luna won, as she held a 6-2, 4-1 lead on Jones on court two. Jones had different plans and continued to fight, taking five games in a row off Popova to force a third set.
Fittingly on Senior Day, it was one of Carolina's three seniors who provided the final point required for a team win. On court one, No. 87 Alawi flew past No. 45 Rohde-Moe 6-2 in the first set. The two traded games back and forth in the second set, but Rohde-Moe gained a break and found herself in a position to serve out the set up 5-4. Alawi continued her aggressive play, fighting off multiple set points until she eventually broke back for 5-all. Each player had her serve broken in the ensuing two games to set up a tiebreaker. Alawi earned a 3-1 advantage in the breaker before Rohde-Moe won three of the next four rallies to tie it up at 4-all. Alawi kept her composure and strung together three well-played points for her highest ranked win of the spring.
Popova and Jones were tied 1-all in the third when play stopped with Alawi's victory. At the No. 4 spot, Kanakova led Stephens 3-0 in the third after winning the first 6-3 and dropping the second 6-2. Alawi's classmate Andersson lost the first set to Verboven 7-5 on court six, but Andersson had a 4-3 advantage in the second.
South Carolina's four straight SEC victories are the most since the 2010 campaign when the Gamecocks won four in a row against the likes of Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Carolina will look to continue its streak when it closes out the regular season on the road next weekend playing No. 17 Vanderbilt on Friday at 5 p.m. and No. 47 Kentucky at noon on Sunday.
|POS||SOUTH CAROLINA||OLE MISS||WINNER||SCORE||FINISH|
|1||#87 Jaklin Alawi||#45 Caroline Rohde-Moe||South Carolina||6-2, 7-6 (7-4)||3|
|2||#98 Katerina Popova||Julia Jones||Unfinished||6-2, 4-6, 1-1|
|3||Elixane Lechemia||#82 Mai El Kamash||South Carolina||6-1, 6-2||1|
|4||Dominika Kanakova||Erin Stephens||Unfinished||SC led 6-3, 2-6, 3-0|
|5||Ximena Siles Luna||Marija Milutinovic||South Carolina||6-3, 6-2||2|
|6||Josefin Andersson||Vief Vlaar||Unfinished||OM led 7-5, 3-4|
|POS||SOUTH CAROLINA||OLE MISS||WINNER||SCORE||FINISH|
|1||#50 Alawi/Kanakova||#53 Rohde-Moe/Milutinovic||South Carolina||8-1||1|
|2||Popova/Andersson||Stephens/Verboven||Unfinished||OM led 8-8 (6-5)|
|3||Lechemia/Siles Luna||Jones/Robbins||South Carolina||8-6||2|