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Women's Tennis

Gamecocks Fall to Ole Miss at SEC Tournament

April 18, 2013

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The 30th-ranked South Carolina women's tennis team suffered a 4-3 setback to No. 39 Ole Miss in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday in Starkville, Miss. The Gamecocks, seeded eighth for the tournament, fell to 13-11 overall for the year, while the ninth-seeded Rebels improved to 16-12. Ole Miss will next play top-seeded and No. 3-ranked Georgia in the quarterfinals Friday at 9 a.m. ET.

The Gamecocks rebounded from consecutive losses in doubles to end the regular season with a strong performance against the Rebels to get the match underway. At the top position, No. 33-ranked Jaklin Alawi and Dominika Kanakova of South Carolina held a 4-3 lead over Iris Verboven and Erin Stephens with the match on serve. The Gamecocks then picked up a break to go ahead 5-3, but Ole Miss countered with a break of its own to put the contest back on serve. South Carolina then rattled off three straight games in its favor to snag the 8-4 victory. Alawi and Kanakova improved to 23-10 on the season while Alawi picked up her 26th doubles win as an individual, the most since Laura Ganzer won 26 for the entire 2006-07 campaign.

On court two, the Gamecocks' Josefin Andersson and Katerina Popova quickly jumped out to a 6-2 lead on 40th-ranked Caroline Rohde-Moe and Marija Milutinovic, but Ole Miss came storming back. After facing a 7-3 deficit, the Rebel duo claimed the next three games to cut South Carolina's lead to just one at 7-6. After a long 14th game, Andersson and Popova escaped with the 8-6 triumph to clinch the doubles point for the Gamecocks. Rohde-Moe and Milutinovic are the highest ranked tandem Andersson and Popova have beaten in their time together. The Gamecock team improved to 20-8 on the season and an impressive 16-3 in dual matches while extending their unbeaten streak to six matches.

Carolina's Elixane Lechemia and Ximena Siles Luna led Julia Jones and Allie Robbins by a 6-4 count on court three when play was suspended after the Gamecocks clinched the point. The match was on serve at 3-all until Lechemia and Siles Luna picked up a break and then won two more games to go ahead 6-3.

South Carolina got off to a slow start in singles, losing the first sets on courts one through four. On court three, initially, it appeared Lechemia might make quick work of Stephens, as she sprinted to a 4-1 lead. Stephens, though, responded by winning 11 games in a row to take the match 6-4, 6-0 to knot the match up at one point apiece. The Gamecocks countered quickly, however, using Andersson's 6-3, 6-1 victory against Verboven at the No. 6 spot to regain the lead.

At the No. 5 spot, Siles Luna fell behind Milutinovic 3-1 in the first set but fought back to take a 5-3 advantage before closing out the set with a 6-4 victory. She pulled ahead 5-2 in the second, but Milutinovic took a pair of games to cut the margin to just one. Siles Luna then confidently took care of Milutinovic in the next game for the 6-4, 6-4 win and a 3-1 Gamecock lead.

Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, the third team point they received from Siles Luna was the last they would get on the day. On court four, Kanakova lost the first set 6-0 to Mai El Kamash, but she recovered nicely by taking a 2-0 advantage to begin the second set. El Kamash then countered and looked as if she would put the match away up 5-3, but Kanakova would not go quietly, taking three games in a row for a 6-5 lead. El Kamash then forced a tiebreaker and despite having set points, Kanakova could not force a third, as El Kamash squeezed out a 10-8 win for the second set tiebreaker.

Courts one and two were the last to finish, and No. 83 Alawi had just entered a third set versus No. 44 Rohde-Moe at the top position and No. 105 Popova was attempting to force a third set with Jones at two after dropping the first. At 3-all in the second, Jones managed to string together three games in a row to defeat Popova 6-4, 6-3 and put the match squarely on the shoulders' of Alawi and Rohde-Moe.

Alawi trailed in the third set 3-1 once Popova was beaten despite having won the first game. After getting the score back to just 3-2 down, Rohde-Moe closed the door on Alawi by claiming the next three games to earn a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 triumph. It marked Rohde-Moe's first career win against Alawi after losing to the Gamecock senior in straight sets in their previous two meetings.

The Gamecocks will now wait to see if they are selected as an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament for the 19th season in a row. The selection show is scheduled for Tuesday, April 30, at a time that has not yet been determined.


1 #83 Jaklin Alawi #44 Caroline Rohde-Moe Ole Miss 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 6
2 #105 Katerina Popova Julia Jones Ole Miss 6-4, 6-3 5
3 Elixane Lechemia Erin Stephens Ole Miss 6-4, 6-0 1
4 Dominika Kanakova Mai El Kamash Ole Miss 6-0, 7-6 (10-8) 4
5 Ximena Siles Luna Marija Milutinovic South Carolina 6-4, 6-4 3
6 Josefin Andersson Iris Verboven South Carolina 6-3, 6-1 2


1 #33 Alawi/Kanakova Verboven/Stephens South Carolina 8-4 1
2 Popova/Andersson #40 Rohde-Moe/Milutinovic South Carolina 8-6 2
3 Lechemia/Siles Luna Jones/Robbins Unfinished SC led 6-4




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