Top Five Opponents Await Women's Tennis this Week
March 1, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Two teams ranked in the ITA's top five await the No. 22 South Carolina women's tennis team this week to open SEC play. The Gamecocks face No. 4 Georgia on Friday at 2:30 p.m. in Athens, Ga., and then No. 5 Tennessee on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Knoxville, Tenn.
South Carolina (7-1) posted victories against No. 17 Clemson, College of Charleston and Winthrop last week. In beating their instate rivals from the Upstate, the Gamecocks snapped a five-match losing streak to Clemson, their first win in the series since 2006. Senior Anya Morgina continues to lead the way in singles this spring, as she ran her record to 7-0 playing atop the singles lineup. Morgina is 13-3 overall and also owns a 6-1 record in doubles matches. Junior Jaklin Alawi owns the most singles victories on the team with a 17-3 record. She is 6-1 this spring playing No. 2 singles and provided the clinching point for South Carolina in its wins against Clemson and Winthrop. Alawi is also undefeated this spring in doubles matches playing on court one with a 7-0 mark. She has split time with senior Dijana Stojic and Morgina at the top doubles spot.
The Lady Vols (9-3) competed outdoors for the first time in their last match and recorded their fourth shutout of the season, blanking UCF 7-0 on Feb. 25. With their ninth win in 10 tries, the Lady Vols enter Friday's SEC opener against No. 15 Florida with their most wins heading into conference play since having nine in 2002, a year in which UT advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals. The Lady Vols extended their program record by opening the season with their 12th straight doubles point against UCF, while picking up six singles wins for the first time in a match this season.
Georgia (10-1) won a pair of matches last week over Memphis and Clemson. Georgia rallied past Memphis 4-3 and then blanked Clemson 7-0. Freshman Lauren Herring has a team-best 22-5 singles record including 10-1 in dual matches. In doubles, she is 22-8 with sophomore Kate Fuller. The doubles team of Lilly Kimbell and Maho Kowase are 10-2 this year, including 8-0 at No. 3. Also in singles, senior Chelsey Gullickson and Fuller are 21-6 in singles.
In looking at the national rankings, all three teams have several individuals in singles and doubles. For the Gamecocks, Morgina is rated No. 34 and Alawi is 64th. Alawi and Morgina are ranked No. 52 in doubles. Georgia is led in singles by No. 11 Gullickson, followed by No. 41 Kowase, No. 54 Herring and No. 69 Fuller. Gullickson and Nadja Gilchrist comprise the nation's No. 6-rated doubles team. The Lady Vols have three players all ranked within 10 spots of each other with No. 28 Natalie Pluskota, No. 35 Brynn Boren and No. 37 Kata Szekely. Tennessee is impressive in the doubles rankings with Pluskota and Caitlyn Williams ranked No. 9, Boren and Sarah Toti ranked No. 10, and Pluskota and Szekely ranked No. 17.
The Gamecocks will use the same singles lineup they did for Clemson with Morgina at one, Alawi at two, Dominika Kanakova at three, Katerina Popova at four, Adriana Pereira at five and Josefin Andersson at six. Morgina wll team with Kanakova at the No. 1 doubles spot, followed by Alawi and Pereira at two, and Andersson and Popova at three.
Georgia has Gullickson on court one for singles and Herring at the No. 2 spot. Gilchrist occupies the third court, followed by Kowase, Fuller, and Kimbell. Gullickson and Gilchrist are listed at No. 1 doubles, Herring and Fuller will play two, and Kimbell and Kowase are the No. 3 doubles team for the Bulldogs.
Tennessee's Pluskota will play No. 1 singles and Boren is the No. 2 singles player. After Szekely at the third spot, Williams plays at four, Toti is five singles and Joanna Henderson is the No. 6 player. In doubles, UT's highest ranked team of Pluskota and Williams are the No. 1 duo with their other top-10 tandem of Boren and Toti playing No. 2 doubles. Henderson and Szekely are the Lady Vols' No. 3 team.