No. 4 Gamecocks Host Rematch with No. 13 Southern Cal
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina women’s tennis team hosts Southern Cal in a rematch of the first competition of the dual season in the NCAA Championships Round of 16 on Saturday, May 11, at 9 a.m. ET at the Carolina Tennis Center.
No. 4-ranked Carolina (22-3, 12-1 SEC) and No. 13 Southern Cal (20-7, 7-3 PAC-12) opened the spring season at the Australian Open, taking part in the first-ever dual match to be played at a Grand Slam. There, the Trojans came out on top in the neutral match, 4-1, on Monday, Jan. 21.
Last Time Out
In Australia, Carolina took the doubles point with Paige Cline and Rachel Rohrabacher getting a, 7-6 (5) win on court two against Becca Weissmann and Danielle Willson. Mia Horvit and Kennedy Wicker clinched the point, defeating Salma Ewing and Ana Neffa, 6-4, at the No. 3 spot.
The Trojans then took four singles matches for the win. Willson topped Wicker on court six, 6-3, 6-1, then Rianna Valdes defeated Megan Davies, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, at the No. 3 spot, and Neffa won her match against Rohrabacher, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. Ending the match, Angela Kulikov beat No. 69 Horvit in three sets, 0-6, 6-4, 7-5.
“At the beginning of the season we hadn’t gotten our feet wet yet,” head coach Kevin Epley said. “We hadn’t competed a lot, it was the first match of the season, and it was in Australia. I would expect both teams are going to be a little bit more intense, a little bit more on their game.
“We know their team, they know our team, and some of the players will be playing a little bit different with all the matches under their belt. It’s just going to be an intense match.”
The Gamecocks head into the weekend on a 12-match winning streak, having not dropped a match since Sunday, March 17. Carolina’s two most recent wins came in the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Championships. First, the Gamecocks blanked North Florida, 4-0. They then followed that up with a, 4-1, defeat of No. 21 Virginia, advancing to the program’s third-straight Sweet 16.
Playing at the No. 1 position, senior and No. 4-ranked Ingrid Martins has won seven matches in-a-row and is 15-2 in duals. In the last 10 matches, Martins is a perfect 7-0 with three going unfinished. Joining her with a 7-0 mark in the last 10 is No. 81-ranked junior Horvit. At the No. 3 spot, Horvit has tallied a 16-2 record in dual matches.
Senior and No. 17-ranked Cline has won four-consecutive matches and is 14-4 in dual matches at the No. 2 position. In her last 10, Cline has gone 7-1, having two go unfinished.
In doubles, No. 3-ranked Horvit and Martins are 15-4 in duals, playing on court one for the Gamecocks. At the No. 2 spot, sophomore Davies and senior Rohrabacher have recently teamed back up. The No. 39 tandem has won their last two matches and are 5-1 in duals.
“We have three very motivated seniors,” Epley said. “Seniors that have put in a lot of work and been through a lot over their careers – a lot of hardship and come out on the other end. They’re leading us through this championship. They’ve been a part of a lot of big matches. All of our seniors have been hosting here for all four years. (They’re) very experienced and they want to go further than the Round of 16 this year.”
The Trojans come to Columbia, S.C., having won their last two matches. Hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA Championships, Southern Cal earned a pair of, 4-0, wins after taking down Illinois State and then UNLV.
Playing at the No. 1 position for Southern Cal in doubles, Kulikov and Valdes are the No. 1-ranked team in the country. Together they have amassed a 15-2 record and have won three-straight matches.
In singles, No. 83 Kulikov plays mostly at the No. 2 spot with a 12-5 dual-match record. Competing on court one for the Trojans, No. 51 Ewing sits at an even 8-8 in duals.
Live streaming and live scoring will be available for the match and can be found on the women’s tennis schedule page on gamecocksonline.com.
Continue to check back with gamecocksonline.com for more updates or follow the team on social media (@GamecockWTennis).