Gamecocks Look to Earn Wins at Arkansas, LSU
March 28, 2013
South Carolina (9-8, 2-5 SEC) split its two SEC matches last weekend, snagging a 4-1 victory from then-No. 18 Auburn, while losing 4-1 to No. 8 Alabama. The Gamecocks snapped Auburn's streak of winning 15 consecutive doubles points by winning at the Nos. 1 and 2 spots. Carolina then took matches on courts two, three and four to clinch the match. Elixane Lechemia provided the clinching point on court three with a three-set win over Emily Flickinger. Against Bama, the Gamecocks' Jaklin Alawi and Dominika Kanakova stunned sixth-ranked Alexa Guarachi and Mary Anne Macfarlane for their biggest win of the year in helping the Gamecocks snag the doubles point. It also helped the duo reach the 20-win plateau to become the first Carolina doubles team to reach 20 wins since Gira Schofield and Ana Marija Zubori hit 20 for the 2007-08 season. It also marked the highest ranked win in doubles for a Gamecock tandem since Dijana Stojic and Zubori beat Nadja Gilchrist and Chelsey Gullickson of Georgia, who were sixth at the time as well, at the 2010 SEC Tournament.
Kanakova became the first Gamecock this spring to earn SEC Player of the Week honors for her efforts last week. Wins against two ranked doubles teams and a 1-1 record in singles marked a highly successful weekend for the junior from Czech Republic. The two doubles victories also catapulted her and Alawi back into the national rankings at No. 50. The two held a ranking of No. 46 to begin the spring and were rated No. 57 as well in February.
Arkansas (10-10, 3-5 SEC) completed a 4-0 road trip through the state of Mississippi last week. The Razorbacks opened the trip with two shutouts of Jackson State, winning 4-0 and 5-0. The Razorbacks then earned a win in Starkville, Miss., with their third straight shutout, defeating Mississippi State 4-0. Arkansas then faced No. 37 Ole Miss and rallied back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to earn a 4-3 win over the Rebels. Claudine Paulson earned two more singles victories, improving her conference singles record to an SEC best 8-0. Ana Lorena Belmar Hernandez went 3-0 in singles and clinched the victory over Ole Miss with her win.
LSU (8-10, 1-7 SEC) suffered a pair of defeats on the road last week to Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Ella Taylor notched wins in both singles competitions, taking a 6-3, 6-1 victory over the Rebels' No. 82 Mai El Kamash before tallying a 6-2, 6-3 win against Mississippi State's Naomi Tran. Kaitlin Burns also posted a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Ole Miss' No. 45-ranked Caroline Rohde-Moe, and the doubles pair of Burns and Taylor was one game away from winning their match against the Rebels before the doubles point was clinched. Although the Lady Tigers notched the first two singles wins against Ole Miss, LSU ultimately fell 4-2. Due to inclement weather, the match against the Bulldogs was moved indoors with singles play beginning first, and the competition came down to a doubles tiebreaker on court three that the Tigers lost 7-4.
The Gamecocks hold a strong advantage in the all-time series with Arkansas, having won 20 of the 25 all-time match-ups. Last season, South Carolina posted a 7-0 victory over the Razorbacks to make up for a narrow 4-3 defeat in Fayetteville, Ark., in 2011. USC's last win in Arkansas in 2009 came against a Razorback squad that was ranked 15th at the time and helped mark a season turnaround that ultimately landed the Gamecocks in the NCAA quarterfinals.
Similar to the Arkansas series, South Carolina has dominated the Tigers over the years with a 19-4 advantage. Baton Rouge, La., however, has been unkind to the Gamecocks in recent memory. South Carolina has lost three of its previous four trips to LSU, including last season by a 4-0 margin. The Gamecocks' lone win over the Tigers was a 4-3 victory in 2007. Even when South Carolina made its strong finish to the 2009 season by winning six of its final eight regular-season matches, the Tigers handed the Gamecocks a 5-2 defeat during that stretch. The Tigers have only won once in Columbia, S.C., and have never won there since South Carolina joined the SEC. Last season, the Gamecocks cruised to a 6-1 victory over LSU in the Palmetto State.
After Arkansas and LSU, the Gamecocks return home for their final home matches of the year against Mississippi State on April 5 at 5 p.m. and Ole Miss on April 7 at 1:30 p.m.