Women's Tennis Suffers 4-3 Loss to Purdue in NCAA First Round
<center><strong>Elixane Lechemia</strong></center>

 
Elixane Lechemia

May 10, 2013


CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The 34th-ranked South Carolina women's tennis team ended the 2013 season with a 4-3 loss to No. 30 Purdue in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center in Coral Gables, Fla. South Carolina finished the year with a 13-12 record, while Purdue improved to 18-5. The Boilermakers will face the winner of No. 6 Miami and North Florida on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The Gamecocks dominated the doubles point versus the Boilermakers, marking the 18th time in 24 tries this season they claimed the 1-0 lead heading to singles. Carolina's No. 3 duo of Elixane Lechemia and Ximena Siles Luna jumped out to a 3-0 advantage against Tess Bernard-Feigenbaum and Gisella Pere, but Purdue sliced the margin down to one at 4-3. The Gamecocks then won four games in a row to pick up the 8-3 victory in finishing first among the three contests.

It became a race between courts one and two to see which duo would give the Gamecocks the point. The No. 2 squad of 65th-ranked Josefin Andersson and Katerina Popova appeared likely to snag the win up 6-1, but Lynda Xepoleas and Daniela Vidal won two straight to make it 6-3. On court one, 29th-ranked Jaklin Alawi and Dominika Kanakova led No. 27 Krisztina Kapitany and Mara Schmidt by a slim 5-4 margin, but the Gamecocks then ran off three straight games to record an 8-4 triumph. Alawi and Kanakova improved to 24-10 on the season with the win and 15-5 in dual matches. Andersson and Popova had their match suspended with a 7-3 upper hand.

Siles helped run the Gamecocks' lead to 2-0 after finishing first in singles play. The freshman recovered from a 0-2 start against Kapitany by winning 12 of the next 13 games to crush her opponent 6-3, 6-0 at the No. 5 spot. It marked the 20th victory of the season for Siles Luna, making her the second Gamecock this season to reach the 20-win plateau.

Lechemia pulled South Carolina within a point of securing the win after she recorded a straight set victory against Vidal on court three. With the score tied 2-all in the first set, Lechemia pulled away for a 5-2 advantage and then closed out the set after surrendering a game to Vidal. In the second, the two traded games back and forth until Lechemia broke loose from a 5-all tie to win consecutive games to end the match. She improved to 11-6 this spring and 10-5 at No. 3 singles.

Andersson was the Gamecocks' best hope of winning the match after Lechemia's triumph. After losing the first set to Pere on court six by a 6-3 count, she recovered quickly to win the second 6-2 and then led 4-2 in the third when Lechemia won her match. Pere, though, fought back to secure the next two games, but Andersson countered to go back ahead 5-4. Pere then tied the set up once again at 5-all.

While Andersson was fighting her way through the third set, Kanakova continued her battle with Bernard-Feigenbaum on court four. Kanakova faltered in the first set 6-4 and after trailing for much of the second set, she was able to snatch a 5-4 advantage and then took the ensuing game to force a third set.

The Boilermakers then finally got on the board with a win on court two with Xepoleas defeating No. 109 Popova 6-3, 7-5. Purdue then swiftly added a couple more points with Pere coming back to upend Andersson 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 and Schmidt downing No. 94 Alawi 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 on court one.

On court four, Kanakova fell behind 2-0 to start the third but then recaptured the lead at 3-2 on Bernard-Feigenbaum. The match was tied 3-all when Alawi took the loss on court one to put the No. 4 singles match as the deciding contest. Unfortunately for South Carolina, Bernard-Feigenbaum ended the match by winning four consecutive games after trailing 3-2 to win 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 and propel her team into the second round.

Alawi and Kanakova will now wait to compete in the 32-team NCAA Doubles Championship that begins May 23 in Urbana, Ill. The draw for the tournament will be determined at a coaches meeting May 21.

SINGLES COMPETITION

  POS SOUTH CAROLINA PURDUE WINNER SCORE FINISH
1 #94 Jaklin Alawi Mara Schmidt Purdue 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 5
2 #109 Katerina Popova Lynda Xepoleas Purdue 6-3, 7-5 3
3 Elixane Lechemia Daniela Vidal South Carolina 6-3, 7-5 2
4 Dominika Kanakova Tess Bernard-Feigenbaum Purdue 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 6
5 Ximena Siles Luna Krisztina Kapitany South Carolina 6-3, 6-0 1
6 Josefin Andersson Gisella Pere Purdue 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 4

DOUBLES COMPETITION

  POS SOUTH CAROLINA PURDUE WINNER SCORE FINISH
1 #29 Alawi/Kanakova #27 Kapitany/Schmidt South Carolina 8-4 2
2 Popova/Andersson Xepoleas/Vidal Unfinished SC led 7-3
3 Lechemia/Siles Luna Bernard-Feigenbaum/Pere South Carolina 8-3 1