Gamecocks Take on Alabama and Auburn
March 29, 2012
The Gamecocks (11-5, 2-4 SEC) posted a 1-1 record returning to SEC play last weekend, losing 5-2 at then-No. 19 Ole Miss while recording a 4-0 victory against Mississippi State at home. The loss to the Rebels was only Carolina's third in the past 15 match-ups with Ole Miss. During those 15 matches, South Carolina and Ole Miss have played eight matches that ended in 4-3 margins. In beating Mississippi State, it marked South Carolina's 23rd consecutive victory against the Bulldogs. The Gamecocks have never lost to MSU since joining the SEC for the 1991-92 academic year.
Katerina Popova continued her winning streaks in both singles and doubles against Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Popova has won seven consecutive matches in singles, all in straight sets, to run her record to 19-8 on the season overall. The sophomore from Russia leads the team in dual match victories this year with a 13-3 mark. All but one of her matches has come playing the No. 4 singles position, where she is 12-3. She also tops the team in SEC wins with a 5-1 mark. In doubles, Popova and Josefin Andersson have compiled a 13-6 record this season to lead the Gamecocks. They have won six matches in a row and are 7-2 in dual matches playing the No. 3 position. Popova and Andersson also have the most SEC victories with a 4-2 record together.
Jaklin Alawi posted an unbeaten record for South Carolina in singles last week while splitting her two doubles matches at the No. 1 position with Anya Morgina. Alawi made short work of Caroline Rohde-Moe of Ole Miss on court two, winning 6-1, 6-1. Rohde-Moe, ranked No. 72 at the time, is the highest ranked player the No. 68-ranked Alawi has beaten this spring. Overall, Alawi's 22-6 record in singles leads the Gamecocks and her 11-4 dual match record playing No. 2 singles is second to Popova. In doubles, Alawi is 11-2 playing the No. 1 position with three different partners. She and Anya Morgina are 6-1 together on court one and 7-1 overall. Alawi has the most doubles victories on the team as an individual with 18.
Adriana Pereira recovered from a three-set defeat versus Abby Guthrie of Ole Miss to win 6-0, 6-0 against Mississippi State. Pereira has the second most SEC singles wins on the team behind Popova with a 4-2 record playing on court five. For the season, the junior from Paraguay is 15-7 in singles and 7-6 in duals.
Morgina is the Gamecocks' third player with double-digit victories in duals this season with a 10-4 record at No. 1 singles. Morgina is ranked No. 35 in the nation, tops for the Gamecocks and 10 spots higher than her previous ranking, and stands No. 65 in doubles with Alawi. Morgina is looking to improve her 1-4 record in SEC matches when the Gamecocks face Alabama and Auburn.
Alabama (12-2, 6-0 SEC) won a pair of SEC matches last week. The Crimson Tide's first win on the weekend came at home against then-No. 23 Vanderbilt where Alabama came out on top 5-2. In Sunday's match in Lexington, Ky., the Tide swept Kentucky 7-0. Alabama has yet to drop a doubles point all season, winning all 12 in which they have competed. Senior Courtney McLane clinched both of the Tide's wins on the weekend and did so against the Commodores in comeback fashion after dropping the first set to then-81st-ranked Marie Casares.
Auburn (8-7, 3-3 SEC) split a pair of weekend matches with a win against Kentucky and a loss on the road at Vanderbilt. The Tigers continued their trend of strong doubles play, picking up wins in 4-of-6 doubles matches and earning both doubles points. Included was a win over Vandy's ranked duo of Jackie Wu and Alex Leatu by Paulina Schippers and Jen Pfeifler. Schippers and Pfeifler are 3-1 on the year with two ranked wins. Pfeifler capped a strong weekend with a win over Vanderbilt's Wu 3-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-4), now ranked No. 34, on Sunday. Auburn will host No. 2 Florida on Friday before hosting the Gamecocks on Sunday.
The Gamecocks enter the weekend with the historical edge in both series, leading Alabama 14-7 and Auburn 24-5. South Carolina has won five straight against the Crimson Tide with the last loss coming in 2006 at Tuscaloosa in a 4-3 final. Despite a big advantage all-time versus the Tigers, Auburn has claimed three of the past five meetings with the Gamecocks. South Carolina will be looking to snap a three-match losing streak to Auburn on the Tigers' home courts. Carolina last won in Auburn in 2006 when it walked away with a 6-1 triumph.