COLLEGE STATION, Texas - South Carolina junior Silvia Chinellato clinched the Gamecocks' win, 4-3, over Florida on Friday afternoon with a three-set victory in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament at the Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station, Texas.
The win marks No. 2-seeded Carolina (18-3, 12-1 SEC) second of the week against No. 7 Florida (12-11, 7-6 SEC). Last Saturday, April 13, the Gamecocks defeated the Gators, 4-2, for their first win over Florida in 37 years.
With the match tied, 3-3, Chinellato was playing a tight third set with Tsveta Dimitrova on court five. In the first set, Chinellato was not able to top the Gator, falling, 6-4. Chinellato took a big, 5-0, lead in the second set. Dimitrova made a comeback, threatening Chinellato's lead. The Gamecock prevailed, topping Dimitrova, 6-4, and pushing a third set. With the, 5-3, advantage in the deciding set, Chinellato did not allow the Gator a single point in the last game, clinching the overall match, 4-3.
"For the second time in a week, it came down to the wire with Florida," head coach Kevin Epley said. "We started slow in doubles, but I was happy we were able to bounce back and be competitive in singles. The match came down to the last set on Silvia's court and she was able to step up and get the job done. Credit Florida for, once again, pushing us to the limit. All eyes are on (Saturday) now. We have a couple things we have to do better if we want to continue to advance in this tournament."
Carolina opened the match by dropping the doubles point to Florida. On court one, No. 1-ranked Ingrid Martins and Mia Horvit were not able to find their groove, falling to No. 42 Victoria Emma and McCartney Kessler, 6-1.
At the No. 3 spot, Kennedy Wicker and Megan Davies dropped their match, 6-2, against Sydney Berlin and Marlee Zein.
Kicking it into high gear in singles, No. 84 Mia Horvit stormed to a, 6-0, 6-3, victory over No. 124 Emma on court three, tying the match, 1-1.
On court one, No. 4 Martins followed with a quick victory against the Gators' No. 15 Ida Jarlskog, 6-1, 6-2, putting the Gamecocks up, 2-1.
After blanking Marlee Zein, 6-0, in the first set, her and Davies went back-and-forth in the second set. Originally down, 3-0, Davies fought back, tying the set, 3-3. Taking the lead, 4-3, Zein won the next game, bring it to another tie, 4-4. Davies then cranked out two-straight games for a, 6-0, 6-4, win, extending South Carolina's lead, 3-1.
At the No. 2 position, No. 23 Paige Cline and No. 35 Kessler played a tough first set. Trading almost every game, Kessler came out on top, 7-6 (6). Still competing tough in the second set, Kessler eventually came out on top in the match, 7-6 (6), 6-4, making the overall score 3-2.
Rachel Rohrabacher dropped her first set to Syndey Berlin on court six, 6-3. In the second set, Rohrabacher never trailed, winning it, 6-3, and forcing a third set. Berlin proved to be too much for Rohrabacher, with the Gator claiming it in three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, and evening the overall match, 3-3.
With a shot at the semifinals on the line, Chinellato outlasted Dimitrova at the No. 5 spot, 4-6, 6-, 6-3, clinching the match for Carolina, 4-3.
Up next, the Gamecocks see No. 3 Vanderbilt in the semifinals at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. Advancing to the semis, the Commodores blanked No. 6 Kentucky, 4-0, on Friday afternoon.