South Carolina’s Daniel Rodrigues Finishes as NCAA Singles Runner-Up
ORLANDO, Fla. – South Carolina men’s tennis sophomore Daniel Rodrigues battled through a physical three sets but fell to No. 6 Sam Riffice of Florida in the NCAA Singles Championship match Friday afternoon. South Carolina is the first program to have back-to-back finalists since 2004-05 (Baylor).
The first set was all Rodrigues early, scoring a couple of service breaks to take a quick 5-0 lead. Riffice got on the board in his next service game and won two more games, but Rodrigues closed out the set 6-3 with a service winner.
The second set when Riffice’s way, taking a 3-0 lead and continuing to pressure Rodrigues on every service game after that to win 6-1.
The third set was back and forth throughout. Riffice got an early break on a double fault on deuce point to take a 2-1 lead. Trailing 1-3, Rodrigue scored a tough hold with a big forehand at 40-30 to stay within in striking distance. After a strong service game made it 3-4 Riffice, Rodrigues got the break back with great returns to control the point and level the match at 4-4. He went down early in the next service game, though, falling behind Love-30 when a time penalty made it Love-40. Rodrigues battled back to 30-40, but Riffice got the break back when Rodrigues’ shot sailed long. The Florida junior closed out the final set 6-4 to claim the championship.