Gamecocks Fight Back to Upend Arizona 4-2 in NCAA First Round
May 14, 2011
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The No. 35 South Carolina women's tennis team (14-10) overcame No. 34 Arizona (15-7) 4-2 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday in Gainesville, Fla. The Gamecocks now face No. 1 Florida for the third time this year on Sunday at 2 p.m. for the right to compete in the NCAA Championships over May 20-24 in Stanford, Calif.
The Gamecocks dropped the doubles point to Arizona. At one, Anya Morgina and Dominika Kanakova fell 8-3 to Natasha Marks and Lacey Smyth. South Carolina answered with Dijana Stojic and Adriana Pereira's 8-4 triumph over Susan Mc Rann and Jane Huh on court three.
The deciding match at No. 2 doubles saw South Carolina's Miljana Jocic and Katerina Popova take a 5-3 lead over Sarah Landsman and Kim Stubbe. Landsman and Stubbe fought back to win three straight games for a 6-5 lead, but Jocic and Popova countered by taking the 12th game at love to make it 6-all. The Wildcats grabbed a 7-6 advantage after the ensuing game and then closed out the contest on their second match point to give Arizona the 1-0 lead heading to singles.
While all the singles matches were still in their first sets, a large storm system moved into Gainesville, forcing play to be suspended at 11:11 a.m. After waiting at the courts for approximately 45 minutes, South Carolina left the courts for lunch and returned to its hotel just before 2 p.m. The Gamecocks returned to Linder Stadium at 3:30 p.m. and the rain subsided just after 4 p.m. Play officially resumed at 5:17 p.m. with No. 2 singles starting first to mark a rain delay of 6:06.
"We were down on every court before the rain delay to start off the singles," head coach Arlo Elkins said. "We came out a little timid and a little shocked we didn't win the doubles point and started out slow. Fortunately, after a long rain delay, which we weren't sure what was going to happen there, we came out and played very aggressive and very strong."
At No. 4 singles, Kanakova recovered from a 4-2 deficit in the first set to win 6-4, 6-2 over Stubbe to put the match back to 1-all. Within 10 minutes, Jocic gave South Carolina the lead with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Huh at six singles. The Wildcats managed to pick up a 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 win at No. 2 singles with Landsman defeating Stojic, but South Carolina answered right back with Pereira beating Mc Rann 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 on court five.
With two matches remaining and both in third sets, Morgina rose to the occasion and provided the winning point for the Gamecocks. After losing the first set to Marks 6-3 on court one, she stormed out to a 5-0 lead in the second before closing out the set 6-1. In the second, Marks grabbed a 2-1 advantage after the first three games, but Morgina tallied off five games in a row, powering herself to a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 win.
The remaining match at No. 3 singles between Popova and Smyth was suspended with Popova trailing 3-2 in the third set. Popova won the first set 6-4, while Smyth took the second 6-2.
South Carolina has now won at least one NCAA Tournament match in 15 of its 17 consecutive appearances. Overall, the Gamecocks own a 21-20 record in NCAA play during their 21 overall bids. The Gamecocks have reached the round of 16 or better six times with the most recent being 2009 when they made the quarterfinals.
Order of Finish: 4, 6, 2, 5, 1
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2