Daniel Rodrigues reaches NCAA tennis semifinals
ORLANDO, Fla. – No. 13 South Carolina men’s tennis sophomore Daniel Rodrigues showed his poise in the big points Wednesday afternoon to advance to the NCAA Singles Championship semifinals with another straight-set win at USTA National Campus.
One of four SEC entries in the quarterfinals, Rodrigues picked up an early break from Aleksander Kovacevic when the Illinois senior double-faulted at 15-40. Rodrigues followed with a tough hold then went up 4-1 with another break at deuce. Kovacevic kept the pressure on, sending the next game to deuce, but again, the Gamecock sophomore delivered with a good approach shot and easy volley for a 5-1 lead the turned in a 6-1 first-set win.
In the second set, Rodrigues went down a break right out of the gate, but answered by breaking Kovacevic at Love to level the match. The two traded games through the bulk of the set, including a tough hold at deuce for Rodrigues to go up 4-3. He took advantage of the next possible opening, picking up a break when Kovacevic missed on his approach to give Rodrigues a 5-3 lead. He wasted little time closing out the match, holding at Love for the 6-3 victory.
“I played aggressive today, more aggressive than I played any other match because I knew I had to,” Rodrigues said. “[Kovacevic] is very strong, he hits the ball very flat and is very dangerous coming to the net. So, I knew that I had to be very aggressive and push him back, because, if not I would be down in the point every single time. I know that the guy who is the toughest is going to win, and I’m just trying to be the toughest guy on the court since day one.”
Rodrigues is the second Gamecock to advance to the semifinals in the last two NCAA Singles Championships. On Thursday, he will face No. 21 Adrian Boitan of Baylor for a chance to advance to the title match Friday.