Gamecocks Take on No. 5 Florida in Gainesville on Saturday
South Carolina and Gators Play at 1 p.m.
COLUMBIA, SC March 8, 2013 — The No. 35 South Carolina women’s tennis team will play its third straight road SEC match to open conference play when it faces No. 5 Florida in Gainesville, Fla., on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.
The Gamecocks (8-4, 1-1 SEC) split their first road weekend of SEC play a week ago, falling to then-No. 6 Texas A&M by a 5-2 score in College Station, Texas, and then recording a 4-3 triumph over then-No. 71 Missouri. It marked South Carolina’s second 4-3 win over the Tigers this year, having also beaten them in the first round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Ann Arbor, Mich., in January. Carolina managed to win the doubles point in each contest, posting a 4-0 combined record in doubles between the two match-ups. Katerina Popova posted the Gamecocks’ lone singles win over the Aggies while also snagging a win at Mizzou. Popova has won seven straight and is 9-1 this spring at No. 2 singles. Elixane Lechemia and Ximena Siles Luna also posted wins in singles to help the Gamecocks down the Tigers.
The Gators (8-2, 1-1 SEC) officially launched their defense of the SEC regular-season title with a 6-1 road win at Missouri. Florida then was handed a 4-3 setback at A&M, as the Aggies won the first-ever meeting in the series and halted the Gators’ 37 match regular-season SEC winning streak, while also putting an end to UF’s run of 45 consecutive wins against SEC teams in any setting. On Wednesday, Florida defeated in-state rival and No. 16-ranked Florida State 4-0 to improve to 53-1 all-time versus the Seminoles. Florida won the doubles easily versus FSU with 8-2 wins on courts one and two, then received straight set wins at the top three singles positions to clinch the match.
Florida has several streaks on the line when it hosts South Carolina on Saturday. The Gators have won 35 in a row over the Gamecocks and own a 39-2 all-time record against Carolina. UF has also won 112 consecutive home matches, last taking a loss in Gainesville to Miami (Fla.) in 2004 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Florida has also won 117 consecutive regular-season home matches, with the Gators last defeat coming to Georgia in April 2002.
Several ranked individuals will be in action for Saturday’s contest. The Gamecocks’ Jaklin Alawi is ranked No. 69 in the latest ITA rankings and Popova is rated No. 108. Florida boasts the No. 1 player in the country with Lauren Embree, followed by Sofie Oyen at No. 11. Next in line is Alex Cercone at No. 53, Danielle Collins is No. 76, Olivia Janowicz is ranked 109th and Brianna Morgan is 114th. Embree and Oyen comprise the nation’s No. 15 doubles duo, and Embree also holds a No. 57 billing with Collins.
Last year in Columbia, S.C., the Gamecocks suffered a 4-1 loss to then-No. 2 Florida to close out the regular season. South Carolina took the doubles point from the Gators, who only lost doubles one other time in 2012 during their run to the national championship. It was the first time since 2002 South Carolina won the doubles over Florida. In the process, the Gamecocks also defeated the then-No. 1 doubles team in the nation of Allie Will and Oyen by an 8-3 score. UF went on to win the match with singles victories on courts one, two, three and five.
After facing the Gators, South Carolina will return to Columbia to host four straight SEC matches beginning with No. 62 Tennessee on March 15 at 5 p.m. at Carolina Tennis Center.