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South Carolina Ready for ITA Kick-Off Weekend
<strong><center>Adriana Pereira</center></strong>
 
Adriana Pereira

Jan. 25, 2013


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COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The 31st-ranked South Carolina women's tennis team is set to compete in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend on Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich., taking on No. 53 Missouri at 2 p.m. at the Preston Robert Tisch Building. No. 16 Michigan and No. 63 Brown square off earlier in the day at 10 a.m. with the winners meeting the next day for a chance to reach the ITA National Team Indoor Championship taking place Feb. 10-13 in Charlottesville, Va.

The 2013 season marks the fifth year of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, a format adopted to mimic that of the NCAA Championships in May. Fifteen campuses across the country will host four-team regions to determine the field of 16 for the ITA National Team Indoors. Virginia has an automatic berth in the event since it will serve as the host.

The Gamecocks posted 1-1 records in the four prior years at the Kick-Off Weekend. They lost their opening round matches from 2009 to 2011 and fell short of the National Indoors last year after first beating William & Mary and then losing to host Georgia Tech. The Gamecocks have previously competed in Durham, N.C., in 2009, Fayetteville, Ark., in 2010, Coral Gables, Fla., in 2011, and Atlanta in 2012.

The Gamecocks enter the weekend coming off a pair of victories on Monday to open the season when they hosted Winthrop and USC Upstate. South Carolina and Winthrop kicked off the doubleheader that ended in a 6-1 triumph for the Gamecocks to move their record to 10-0 all-time versus the Eagles. South Carolina recorded a 4-0 win in the second match against the Spartans in the first ever meeting between the two schools.

Missouri posted a 7-0 victory in its first match of the season on Jan. 19 at Saint Louis. Brown has yet to play a dual match, however, the Bears did scrimmage against Dartmouth on Jan. 20. Michigan has not played a dual match either in 2013, instead hosting the Michigan Invitational on Jan. 18-20 to get its spring season started.

South Carolina has little history with the other three schools competing in Ann Arbor. The Gamecocks have never played Missouri and have only played Brown once, a 5-2 win in 2006. Carolina and Michigan have played on five occasions and the Wolverines own a 3-2 advantage. South Carolina traveled to Michigan in 2009 during the regular season and suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 loss that came down to No. 6 singles. The Gamecocks took another 4-3 loss to the Wolverines the following year in the first round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Fayetteville, Ark. It was also the last meeting between the two.

Senior Jaklin Alawi is the Gamecocks' highest ranked player this spring with a No. 34 national billing in singles and she comes in at No. 46 in doubles with junior Dominika Kanakova. The duo scored two wins to open the dual match season at No. 1 doubles, dropping just one game between the two contests. Alawi earned a straight set victory against Winthrop for her 10th victory of the season and did not take the court for the second match since the Gamecocks had already clinched the win before her match could be played.

Fellow senior Adriana Pereira scored two wins in singles, playing the No. 5 position versus Winthrop and No. 4 against USC Upstate. She gutted out a 6-4 victory in the third versus the Eagles while taking care of her Spartan opponent in straight sets. Pereira teamed with Ximena Siles Luna at No. 3 doubles for the first match and Alex Martin for the second. Neither pair finished its match since both doubles points were decided on courts one and two.

Freshman Siles Luna took a straight set loss to Winthrop to see her seven-match winning streak come to an end, but she recovered to win 6-0, 6-0 in her ensuing match-up with USC Upstate. Siles Luna has the best record of any Gamecock with a 13-3 mark. She played on court four in her first match and moved to the five spot against the Spartans.

Juniors Kanakova and Katerina Popova both had productive days in their dual match debuts for 2013. Kanakova snagged a 6-3, 6-3 win at No. 3 singles and was up a set in her second match at the same position against USC Upstate when play was suspended. Popova won in straight sets playing court two against Winthrop, but like Alawi, she never played a point versus the Spartans since the match was already decided. She also grabbed two wins at No. 2 doubles with Josefin Andersson.

Andersson, a senior, saw action against Winthrop at the No. 6 singles position as well. She went three sets and ultimately provided the clinching point for the Gamecocks with a 6-4 triumph in the third. Sophomore Martin took Andersson's place for the second match at the No. 6 spot and cruised to a straight set win in helping the Gamecocks start the season 2-0.

 

 

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