May 11, 2012
DURHAM, N.C. -- The No. 30-ranked South Carolina women's tennis team recorded a 4-1 victory against No. 32 TCU on Friday at Ambler Tennis Stadium in Durham, N.C., in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. South Carolina improved to 16-8 with the victory, while TCU ended its season with an 18-6 mark. The Gamecocks are playing in their 18th consecutive NCAA Tournament and have now advanced beyond the first round in 16 of those appearances. South Carolina next faces No. 3 Duke, a 4-0 winner over Winthrop, at 3 p.m. Saturday with a trip to Athens, Ga., on the line.
"I'm very pleased, it was a great effort and I'm really proud of my team," interim head coach Katarina Petrovic said. "They took care of business and I thought the score would have been 6-1 in the end. Overall, the match was tough, but I do think that we had a little bit more gas in the end and we were in better shape than TCU. I think that's what determined the outcome of the match."
South Carolina grabbed the doubles point, marking the ninth time in the past 12 matches the Gamecocks have taken a 1-0 lead heading to singles play. The Gamecock charged ahead on all three courts and eventually saw Josefin Andersson and Katerina Popova finish first with an 8-5 triumph over Gabby Mastromarino and Simona Parajova at the No. 3 position. The duo improved to 17-8 with the victory and 11-4 on court three.
After jumping out to a 4-0 advantage, Anya Morgina and Dominika Kanakova provided the clinching point at No. 2 doubles with an 8-4 win against Kelsey Sundaram and Federica Denti. Morgina and Kanakova are now 9-5 together this season and 5-2 playing the second court.
The remaining match at No. 1 doubles between South Carolina's Jaklin Alawi and Dijana Stojic, and TCU's Millie Nichols and Olivia Smith was suspended with the Gamecocks ahead 7-6. South Carolina had several match points with a 7-6 lead before Morgina and Kanakova managed to close out the doubles competition.
In singles, South Carolina struck first with Stojic earning a 6-4, 6-4 victory against Smith at No. 3 singles. The Horned Frogs answered back, though, with their first and what turned out to be their only point on court four. Nichols defeated Kanakova 6-2, 6-2 to put TCU within one point of Carolina.
Pereira pushed the Gamecocks further in front with a 7-5, 6-2 win versus Mastromarino at the No. 6 spot. The win avenged a straight set loss Pereira suffered against the TCU senior when they met in the 2010 NCAA Tournament first round in Tallahassee, Fla. The Gamecocks still won that match by a 4-2 score.
The final point came courtesy of Katerina Popova on court five. After winning the first set handily 6-1, Popova fell behind 3-1 in the second to Denti and eventually lost the set 6-4. Popova regrouped in the third, winning the first game and then the second after it went to several deuces. When Popova charged ahead 3-0, Denti called for an injury timeout. After the break in action, Popova continued to wear down Denti to snag the 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 triumph.
"I was pretty confident in myself," Popova said. "I knew that I was going to win, but I didn't know I would win in three sets; I thought I would win in two sets. I wasn't concentrating too much in the second set and that's why I lost it. In the third set, I said to myself, `You have to give it all you have. You cannot lose to this girl.'"
With the win, Popova earned her team-leading 16th win of the season in dual matches. Her record stands at 16-7 in duals and she is 22-12 overall. Her 22 victories in singles are second only to Alawi, who owns a 25-8 record.
Once Popova clinched the decision for Carolina, the remaining matches on courts one and two were suspended with the Gamecocks leading in each. At one, Morgina was about to play match point versus Stefanie Tan with the score 1-6, 6-1, 5-2 and Morgina holding the ad on her serve. Alawi lost the first set to Parajova in a tiebreaker 7-2, but she won the second 6-4 and was ahead 2-0 in the third.
South Carolina improved to 16-3 all-time against TCU with its last two victories against the Horned Frogs coming in the NCAA Tournament. Duke leads South Carolina 11-4 in the 15 prior meetings between the two schools. The Gamecocks and Blue Devils last met in 2003 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Durham and Duke recorded a 4-0 win. South Carolina last defeated Duke in 1995 in Columbia, S.C., by a 5-4 margin.
Order of Finish: 3, 4, 6, 5
Order of Finish: 3, 2
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