Women's Tennis Hosts Challenging SEC East Opponents
April 7, 2011
In celebration of the final matches at historic Maxcy Gregg, both matches will include free hot dogs and pizza for fans. The women have played home matches at the facility since first fielding a varsity team in the 1973-74 academic year. South Carolina will move into a new tennis facility located beside the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center this fall.
South Carolina (12-6, 4-4 SEC) posted a split in SEC play last week with a 4-3 loss at No. 21 Vanderbilt and a 6-1 victory at Kentucky. The Gamecocks lost at the first and second positions in doubles versus the Commodores before picking up wins at one, two and five singles. Carolina answered with a sweep in doubles at Kentucky, its first sweep since defeating Winthrop in February. South Carolina only lost at the No. 4 singles spot while winning in straight sets in all the other contests.
Tennessee (15-4, 7-0 SEC) is one of three teams currently undefeated in the league, joining Georgia and No. 2 Florida. The Lady Vols earned wins over No. 34 Ole Miss and Mississippi State last week, beating the Rebels 5-2 and the Bulldogs 7-0. UT has yet to surrender more than two points to any league opponent this season. The Lady Vols have won five straight matches and nine of 10 overall with their only loss coming at the hands of No. 20 Notre Dame.
Georgia (14-1, 8-0 SEC) has won 12 straight matches since taking a loss to No. 3 North Carolina in the second round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in January. The Bulldogs will travel to Gainesville, Fla., first to face Florida (19-1, 8-0) on Friday in a key league match to determine the 2011 regular-season champion. The Bulldogs' toughest competition so far in SEC play was Alabama in the opening week of conference action when the Crimson Tide came out on the losing end of a 4-3 decision. In Georgia's other seven league matches, the Bulldogs have not given up more than a point to the opposition.
Like many teams this week, South Carolina made several changes to its lineup, particularly in doubles. Dominika Kanakova and Dijana Stojic, who have played at the top spot all season, were split between the first and second positions. Kanakova is now slotted with Anya Morgina at No. 1 doubles. The two had a very productive fall, posting a 5-0 record, and maintained a national ranking until the most recent ITA rankings were released March 29. At two, Stojic will team with Adriana Pereira, marking the first time the two have played together in their careers. Madeleine Saari-Byström is listed at No. 3 doubles with Miljana Jocic. Two have played several matches together over the past couple seasons.
In singles, the Gamecocks made one change at the Nos. 4 and 5 spots, switching Kanakova and Saari-Byström. Kanakova moved up to the four spot, while Saari-Byström will now play five. At one, No. 39-ranked Morgina will look to extend her eight-match winning streak and Stojic will look to use the momentum she gained from a pair of wins last week at No. 2 singles. Katerina Popova is listed at three singles and Pereira will continue playing at No. 6 singles.
The Tennessee lineup features two ranked doubles teams and three players who hold a national ranking in singles. Natalie Pluskota and Brynn Boren form the No. 44 doubles team in the nation at the top of the doubles lineup, while Tennessee's highest ranked team, No. 17 Rosalia Alda and Millie Nichols, play on court two. For the final position, Kata Szekely will play with Jennifer Meredith.
In singles, No. 31-rated Pluskota plays the top slot, followed by No. 94 Rosalia Alda. At three, Popova will get a crack at the nation's No. 37 player in Boren. Court four figures to pose a competitive match-up between Szekely, who is 13-4 in duals, and Kanakova, who is equally impressive with a 13-3 mark. At five is Maria Sorbello and Nichols plays the No. 6 spot.
Georgia has a pair of ranked doubles teams as well and four players with national singles rankings. Chelsey Gullickson and Kate Fuller comprise the No. 9-ranked duo and are 14-1 together and 13-1 at the No. 1 position this spring. At two, Lilly Kimbell and Nadja Gilchrist are ranked 50th and are 4-0 in duals. Cameron Ellis and Alina Jerjomina are slotted at three and have played just once together this season.
For singles, Gullickson, the 2010 NCAA singles champion, is ranked 25th playing the No. 1 position. Maho Kowase, ranked 91st, plays court two but has played several matches at one as well in building a 27-8 record thus far. No. 70 Gilchrist has played sparingly in singles this spring because of injuries but is listed at three singles, followed by Alex Anghelescu on court four. At five, Kimbell brings in a 12-match winning streak this week, and at six, Ellis has won 10 straight and is 26-4 overall.
The Gamecocks have a long history with both teams having played UT and UGA for years prior to joining the SEC in the early '90s. Tennessee holds a 22-17 edge in the all-time series dating back to 1978 and has won nine of the previous 11 meetings. Both of South Carolina's wins during that time came in Knoxville, Tenn., in 2007 and 2009. The Gamecocks' last win at home versus the Lady Vols was a 4-1 decision in 2002.
South Carolina has faced Georgia more than any other team in school history. Sunday will mark the 54th meetings of the two programs. The Bulldogs enjoy a 38-15 advantage in the series with the Gamecocks, which began in 1974, the first year both schools sponsored a varsity women's tennis team. Carolina won the last meeting with Georgia in the SEC Tournament a season ago with a 4-1 victory in Athens, Ga., to end a 12-match losing streak to UGA. South Carolina's last win over Georgia in Columbia came in the semifinals of the SEC Tourney in 2002 when the Bulldogs were the No. 1-ranked team in the country.
This Weekend's Lineups