April 30, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The No. 33-ranked South Carolina women's tennis team earned its 19th consecutive NCAA Tournament bid Tuesday and will face No. 28 Purdue in the first round May 10 at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. Also competing in the Miami regional will be No. 10 Miami and North Florida, who play May 10 as well. The winners will square off May 11 for the right to play at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex at the Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana, Ill., at the NCAA Championships from May 17-21.
The Gamecocks enter the tournament with a 13-11 record overall and went 6-7 in SEC play. Individually, Jaklin Alawi and Katerina Popova are South Carolina's two ranked singles players at Nos. 92 and 121. Alawi holds a No. 35 ranking in doubles with Dominika Kanakova, while Popova is 66th with Josefin Andersson. Alawi and Popova were both named to the All-SEC Second Team and Popova was named the team's MVP as well. Popova led the team in singles victories with a 20-10 record while also posting a 20-8 mark in doubles play with Andersson.
Overall, South Carolina has now been selected for the NCAA Tournament 23 times. 2013 marks the 32nd year the NCAA has sponsored a championship in women's tennis. With 23 bids, South Carolina is tied for 13th for the most NCAA appearances in the country. South Carolina's 19 NCAA appearances in a row are tied for the 11th longest active streak in the country. South Carolina has reached the round of 16 six times (1983, 1983, 1990, 1995, 1999, 2009) and advanced as far as the quarterfinals twice (1982, 2009). The Gamecocks have also won at least one round in the tournament 16 times during their previous 18 appearances.
For head coach Kevin Epley, the first-year Gamecock head coach has qualified his teams for NCAAs each year in his nine seasons as a head coach (three at Fresno State, five at William & Mary). In his eight prior appearances, his teams advanced to at least the second round on seven occasions. Epley's best finish came with his 2007 William & Mary squad that reached the round of 16. He owns a 164-70 (.701) all-time record as a head coach and is 8-8 in NCAA play.
Individual selections for the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships will be posted Wednesday on NCAA.com after 6 p.m. Illinois will also host the individual championships from May 22-27.
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