South Carolina Looks to Extend SEC Winning Streak
April 4, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The 29th-ranked South Carolina women's tennis team looks to extend its SEC winning streak when it hosts Mississippi State on Friday at 5 p.m. and No. 37 Ole Miss on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. Sunday will be Senior Day with it being the last regular-season home match for Jaklin Alawi, Josefin Andersson and Adriana Pereira. The trio will be honored at a short ceremony prior to the contest with Ole Miss.
South Carolina (11-8, 4-5 SEC) snagged a pair of road SEC victories last week, defeating then-No. 44 Arkansas by a 5-2 score and then-No. 54 LSU 5-1. It marked the first time since 2007 the Gamecocks have managed to win at both Arkansas and LSU on the same weekend. No. 98-ranked Katerina Popova recorded a perfect weekend in singles and doubles play. She won in three sets versus No. 97 Claudine Paulson of Arkansas and was a straight setter winner against Mary Jeremiah of LSU. Popova and Andersson improved to 16-8 in doubles this year and 12-2 at the No. 2 spot with their win against the Razorbacks. For her performance, Popova was awarded SEC Player of the Week, marking the first time in school history the Gamecocks have won the weekly honor in consecutive weeks. Dominika Kanakova, last week's SEC Player of the Week, also went unbeaten on the weekend. Kanakova clinched the win versus Arkansas while she and Alawi picked up their third straight win against a ranked doubles team. The duo of Alawi and Kanakova is 21-8 this season, making them the winningest Gamecock tandem since the 2001-02 season. Andersson also posted a 3-0 record over the weekend and clinched the Gamecocks' win against LSU.
On Tuesday night, Alawi and Kanakova received a unique opportunity by participating in the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C., as part of USC Night. The partnership between the University and the WTA event allowed the Gamecocks to place a doubles team in the main draw as wild cards and play against some of the world's best. The two lost to Megan Moulton-Levy of the United States and Shuai Zhang of China 6-4, 6-2.
Mississippi State (7-10, 1-8 SEC) fell in a 4-1 decision to the Rebels of Ole Miss in an indoor road match last week. MSU's Alexandra Perper posted the team's sole singles triumph, defeating Julia Jones of the Rebels 6-1, 6-4 at the No. 2 position. Prior to the Friday matchup, Lady Bulldog freshman Georgiana Patrasc claimed the first ITA ranking of her career, taking hold of the 124th spot.
Ole Miss (10-9, 4-5 SEC) went 5-0 last week, picking up two wins against Jackson State and Southern Miss in addition to its victory over MSU. The Rebels have now won 24 straight against the Lady Bulldogs. No. 45-ranked Caroline Rohde-Moe went 5-0 in doubles and singles, including picking up two ranked wins in doubles and singles in the win over MSU. Freshman and 82nd-ranked Mai El Kamash posted a 4-0 record last week, including a tough two-setter against State's Naomi Tran to set up her teammate's match-clinching win at No. 5 singles. Jones, Erin Stephens and El Kamash have combined for a 16-9 record in the SEC at positions 2-4 in the lineup. Stephens leads the team with a 6-1 conference record, while Jones and El Kamash are 5-4.
The Gamecocks own a dominant edge in the all-time series with the Lady Bulldogs. South Carolina is 23-1 with all 23 wins coming consecutively. Carolina has also never lost a match to MSU as a member of the Southeastern Conference. Last season, South Carolina scored a 4-0 victory from the Lady Bulldogs in Columbia. The Gamecocks have not surrendered more than a point to MSU in the past seven matchups.
South Carolina and Ole Miss have split their 28 all-time contests against each other right down the middle. The Rebels owned the advantage from 1986 to 2000 with an 11-2 mark, but 12 of the past 15 contests have favored South Carolina. In those 12 victories, though, the Gamecocks pulled out the match by only a 4-3 margin. Carolina suffered a 5-2 setback to Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss., last year and lost 4-1 to the Rebels the last time they visited Columbia in 2011 at the USC Field House.