Four Gamecocks Set to Compete in ITA Regional

 

Oct. 19, 2011

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GAMECOCK WOMEN'S TENNIS
October 19, 2011
Coach Elkins
Katerina Popova
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Jaklin Alawi, Dijana Stojic, Katerina Popova and Josefin Andersson from the South Carolina women's tennis team will compete in the USTA/ITA Carolina Regional Championships beginning Thursday in Chapel Hill, N.C. The tournament concludes Monday.

The tournament features a 128-person singles main draw and a 64-team doubles main draw. Qualifying matches will also be played for singles, however, all of South Carolina's entries were already given spots in the main draw. The winners will receive automatic bids to the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., over Nov. 3-6. The National Indoors are the second of the ITA's three Grand Slam events.

"What we're trying to do with this tournament is, as well as putting in four capable singles entries, we're trying to keep together some of the doubles teams we've played this fall and give them a little more experience," head coach Arlo Elkins said. "Both teams have played two or at the most three tournaments together, and that's really not quite enough to get them ready for the spring. So, we're sending them up there hoping they'll get some good doubles results as well."

Alawi figures to be a strong contender in the singles draw as she is tied for the team lead in victories with an 8-1 record and owns wins against two ranked players this fall, including No. 31 Brynn Boren of Tennessee. Alawi's only loss came in the finals of the Furman Fall Classic in September. Most recently, she earned co-champion honors at the Wildcat Invitational competing in the top singles flight with a 3-0 record.

Stojic put together a strong run at the ITA All-American Championships, defeating two players ranked ahead of her before falling one match short of making the main draw. Stojic, ranked No. 68, defeated No. 57 Annie Goransson of California 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3) in her first match and then outlasted No. 38 Shannon Matthews from Notre Dame 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 7-6 (7-2). Stojic is 7-2 overall this fall.

Alawi and Stojic will comprise one Gamecock duo in doubles for the regional. The duo owns a 3-2 record and has a win against No. 27-ranked Courtney McLane and Taylor Lindsey of Alabama. McLane and Lindsey reached the round of 16 in the main draw at the ITA All-American. Stojic and Alawi's two losses came against the Nos. 1 and 22 tandems in the country by scores of 8-6 and 9-7. The Gamecocks have the No. 5 seed for the draw and received a first-round bye. They play at 8 a.m. Friday against a team from NC State or Charlotte.

Popova looks to improve on her 5-4 record in singles this fall. She had a 3-0 record at the Gamecocks' first tournament, the Milwaukee Tennis Classic, and also picked up a win in her first matches at the Furman Fall Classic and Wildcat Invitational.

"I hope during this tournament I can play even better (than I did at the Wildcat Invitational)," Popova said. "I feel I'm playing much better than I was at the beginning of the fall semester. Hopefully, I will perform better than I did in the previous tournaments."

Andersson raced out to a 6-0 record to begin the fall, posting an undefeated record in Milwaukee and winning her flight at the Furman Fall Classic. The junior won her first match at the Wildcat Invitational and then suffered two three-set losses in final two matches to put her record at 6-2 heading to Chapel Hill.

Popova and Andersson have played more matches together this fall than any other Gamecock combination. Their most recent tournament together at Northwestern saw them win the consolation draw after taking a loss in the first round. They have a 6-3 record and bring a three-match winning streak to the regional. Popova and Andersson will take on Sophie Nelson and Christy Sipes of NC State in the first round Thursday at 5:30 p.m.