Gamecocks Take on Rival No. 19 Clemson on Sunday|
Feb. 2, 2013
Sunday's match-up marks the 48th meeting between Carolina and Clemson in women's tennis in a series that dates back to 1976. The Tigers hold a slight edge in the series at 24-23 and saw a five-match winning streak against the Gamecocks snapped last year in Columbia. South Carolina dropped the doubles point to Clemson in that match but captured four victories in singles to earn the 4-3 win against the then-No. 17 Tigers. Senior Jaklin Alawi provided the winning point at No. 2 singles with a three set triumph over Beatrice Gumulya, winning 6-4 in the third.
South Carolina (3-1) enters the contest coming off a 4-0 loss to No. 16 Michigan in the second round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Gamecocks earned a tough 4-3 victory in their first match versus then-No. 53 Missouri in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Senior Josefin Andersson broke a 3-all tie in the match with a victory at No. 6 singles. Michigan upended then-No. 63 Brown by a 4-0 score to pit the Gamecocks and Wolverines against each other in the third meeting between the two programs in the past five seasons.
Clemson (1-1) also split a pair of matches to the open the year at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Tigers beat then-No. 24 Tulsa in their first contest and then suffered a 4-2 setback to No. 9 Alabama in the second round. South Carolina will be Clemson's third consecutive SEC opponent, as the Tigers must first play No. 6 Georgia in the Upstate on Saturday morning.
"I think the key is to come out strong," South Carolina head coach Kevin Epley said. "Hopefully, we can catch them down early, get a quick lead, get the doubles point and try to build on that momentum. It's going to be a fight. It's another indoor match, and their indoor center is pretty tough to play in."
Alawi has led the Gamecocks all season in the national rankings, coming in at No. 34 in singles to start the year, and she boasts a No. 46 billing with Dominika Kanakova in doubles. Alawi has posted a 1-2 record thus far playing the top singles position and is 3-1 at No. 1 doubles with Kanakova. In Ann Arbor, the pair scored a win against No. 26-ranked Cierra Gaytan-Leach and Elisha Gabb from Missouri, the highest ranked duo they have beaten this season.
Three Tigers are ranked nationally in singles, led by Yana Koroleva at No. 32. Koroleva is coming off a win against No. 12 Mary Anne Macfarlane of Alabama. Romy Koelzer comes in at No. 69 and Gumulya is currently 77th. Clemson newcomer Anne-Liz Jeukeng does not hold a national ranking but is coming off a straight set victory against No. 13 Alexa Guarachi of Alabama at the No. 2 singles position.
"Their top two players are very strong," Epley said. "They're very talented down the line. We're going to have to take care of the intangibles, the details, to have a shot. We're going to have to out-compete them."
South Carolina and Clemson players only matched up twice in the fall, with one meeting coming at the Furman Fall Classic and the second at the ITA Carolina Regional Championships. Sophomore Alex Martin lost in straight sets to Ani Miao at Furman, while Kanakova lost a 7-6 (9-7), 6-3 decision to Koelzer in the second round of the main draw at the regional.