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Gamecocks Drop Close Match at Kentucky
<center><strong>Katerina Popova</strong></center>

 
Katerina Popova

April 14, 2013


LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The No. 27 South Carolina women's tennis team lost its regular-season finale Sunday at No. 47 Kentucky to finish 13-10 overall and 6-7 in the SEC. The Wildcats finished up 13-11 and 4-9 in SEC matches. South Carolina will head to the SEC Tournament next week in Starkville, Miss., as the No. 8 seed and take on No. 9 seed Ole Miss on Thursday at 9 a.m. ET.

Doubles went sour for the Gamecocks again, marking the first time this season they lost the point in consecutive matches. South Carolina struck first, just as it did two days ago against Vanderbilt with Josefin Andersson and Katerina Popova making short work of Stephanie Fox and CeCe Witten 8-2 at the No. 2 slot. Andersson and Popova improved to 19-8 on the year with the win and ended the regular season with an impressive 15-3 record in dual matches, including a 7-2 mark in SEC play.

Kentucky's Cailtlin McGraw and Nadia Ravita recorded UK's first victory at the top position versus No. 35 Jaklin Alawi and Dominika Kanakova. McGraw and Ravita jumped ahead to a 6-3 advantage, but Alawi and Kanakova won three games in a row to cut the margin to just one. The Wildcats then answered with two games of their own to exit the court with an 8-5 triumph.

Just like Friday's matchup, the doubles point was decided on court three. South Carolina's Elixane Lechemia and Ximena Siles Luna trailed for most of their match against Khristina Blajkevitch and Jessica Stiles. Down 6-4, Lechemia and Siles Luna fought back to take a 7-6 lead on Blajkevitch and Stiles and appeared poised to complete the come-from-behind victory. The Wildcats, though, were unfazed and closed out the match by winning three straight games to record the 9-7 triumph.

Four of the six singles matches went three sets and unfortunately for the Gamecocks, three of them resulted in losses. Initially, South Carolina stormed back to take a 2-1 lead thanks to Lechemia and Kanakova on courts three and four. Lechemia beat Edmee Morin-Kougoucheff 6-0, 7-6 (7-0) at the No. 3 spot and Kanakova finished just before her with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Blajkevitch to take No. 4 singles. For Lechemia, it marked her fourth victory in a row and upped her overall record to 10-5 on the spring.

No. 77 Alawi was looking for her first win of the spring against a top-25 opponent and it appeared she might get it versus No. 22 Ravita on court one. After Ravita took the first set 7-5, Alawi trounced her in the second 6-0 and then had a 4-3 lead in the third. Ravita, though, claimed the next three games to tie the team score at 2-all with a 7-5, 0-6, 6-4 win.

At No. 6 singles, Andersson recovered from a lost tiebreaker in the first set to Fox to win easily in the second 6-1. For the third set, the two were tied 1-all before Fox went on a tear by winning five games in a row to pick up the 7-6 (8-6), 1-6, 6-1 win and give the Wildcats the lead once again. McGraw then held off Siles Luna's comeback bid on court five to lift UK over the Gamecocks with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory.

South Carolina finally took the last three set match on court at the No. 2 position. No. 108-ranked Popova dropped the opening set to Stiles 6-4 but recovered to win 7-5, 6-4 in the ensuing two sets to give South Carolina its third point of the match. The victory made Popova Carolina's first 20-match singles winner of the season, moving her to 20-9 overall and 7-5 in SEC matches.

SINGLES COMPETITION

  POS SOUTH CAROLINA KENTUCKY WINNER SCORE FINISH
1 #77 Jaklin Alawi #22 Nadia Ravita Kentucky 7-5, 0-6, 6-4 3
2 #108 Katerina Popova Jessica Stiles South Carolina 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 6
3 Elixane Lechemia Edmee Morin-Kougoucheff South Carolina 6-0, 7-6 (7-0) 2
4 Dominika Kanakova Khristina Blajkevitch South Carolina 6-2, 6-1 1
5 Ximena Siles Luna Caitlin McGraw Kentucky 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 5
6 Josefin Andersson Stephanie Fox Kentucky 7-6 (8-6), 1-6, 6-1 4

DOUBLES COMPETITION

  POS SOUTH CAROLINA KENTUCKY WINNER SCORE FINISH
1 #35 Alawi/Kanakova McGraw/Ravita Kentucky 8-5 2
2 Popova/Andersson Fox/Witten South Carolina 8-2 1
3 Lechemia/Siles Luna Blajkevitch/Stiles Kentucky 9-7 3

 

 

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