Gamecocks' Comeback Versus No. 14 Tennessee Falls Just Short
April 8, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The 37th-ranked South Carolina women's tennis team's comeback bid versus No. 14 Tennessee fell just short Friday, as the Lady Volunteers held on to win 4-3 at Maxcy Gregg Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. The Gamecocks dropped to 12-7 overall and 4-5 in the SEC, while Tennessee improved to 16-4 and 8-0 in the league.
"It was a hard fought match," head coach Arlo Elkins said. "I was pleased with everyone's effort. We had a couple matches that weren't close, but I don't think it was because of a lack of effort or a lack of emotion. I thought we all really pulled together today and what really made me optimistic is we got down in a lot of those matches and came back and fought hard. That's always good to see. When you get down and fight back to not only get even but take the lead and win some of those matches, that's a really positive thing. If you can take anything positive out of a loss that was it for today."
South Carolina fell in the doubles, losing all three courts to face a 1-0 deficit heading to singles. On court one, No. 44 Natalie Pluskota and Brynn Boren posted an 8-2 triumph over Dominika Kanakova and Anya Morgina, while Kata Szekely and Jennifer Meredith defeated Miljana Jocic and Katerina Popova by the same score at three to clinch the point. At No. 2 doubles, 17th-ranked Rosalia Alda and Millie Nichols earned an 8-3 win over Dijana Stojic and Adriana Pereira.
Tennessee quickly jumped ahead 3-0 on South Carolina with a pair of wins on courts one and five. Sorbello won first at No. 5 singles, topping Pereira 6-0, 6-2. At one, No. 31 Pluskota snapped No. 39 Morgina's eight-match winning streak with a 6-3, 6-4 victory.
Three of the final four matches on court belonged to the Gamecocks. At three singles, Popova registered the top win of her career young career by upending No. 37-ranked Boren in straight sets 6-3, 6-4. It marked Popova's second win versus a ranked player this spring. With the win, the freshman from Russia improved to 17-8 and 5-3 in SEC play.
The next match to finish was the clinching point for Tennessee on court four. After losing the first set 6-3 to Szekely, Kanakova answered back with a 6-2 win in the second and then cruised to a 3-0 advantage to start the third. Szekely stormed back, though, to take a 5-3 lead before Kanakova managed to hold serve to make it 5-4. After fighting off two match points in the 10th game, Szekely won the second deuce to lift the Lady Volunteers to victory.
Jocic, playing in her first singles match since Feb. 13, hung on to win a tough outing with Nichols at the No. 6 singles spot. After taking the first set in a tiebreaker 7-5, Jocic snagged a 4-1 lead in the second, but Nichols recovered to make the score 4-all. Jocic bounced back and closed out the final two games to make the team score 4-2.
"Miki came in and played really well," Elkins said. "She's really had a heck of a career here for us for the previous three years and hasn't gotten in many of the singles matches this year. She deserved to be in today. She's been playing really well in practice and proved us right."
With the team outcome decided and sets split at two between No. 94 Alda and No. 123 Stojic, the two played a super tiebreaker for the third. Stojic took the lead from the beginning and never looked back, winning 7-5, 4-6, (10-4) to up her SEC record at No. 2 singles to 7-1. It also marked the 20th win of the season for Stojic, who is now 20-7. The junior from Croatia has won nine of her last 10 matches.
South Carolina will host its final regular-season home competition Sunday when No. 6 Georgia heads to Columbia for a 1 p.m. match. Just prior to the match, South Carolina will honor its lone senior Jocic for Senior Day. Fans can also enjoy free pizza and hot dogs for the match.
Order of Finish: 5, 1, 3, 4, 6, 2
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2