South Carolina reaches SEC finals
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The South Carolina women's tennis team rallied back from dropping the doubles point for a, 4-1, victory against Vanderbilt in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament on Saturday afternoon at the Mitchell Tennis Center.
The No. 2-seeded Gamecocks (19-3, 12-1 SEC) flipped their result against the No. 3 Commodores (16-7, 10-3 SEC) from the 2016-17 SEC Tournament semifinals where they fell to Vanderbilt, 4-1.
With the victory, South Carolina heads to its first SEC Tournament finals match since the 2001-02 season.
"The girls bounced back again from a 0-1 deficit and fought very hard," head coach Kevin Epley said. "Vanderbilt really played strong, given some unfortunate circumstances, and it was a very competitive match until the last ball was struck. We are happy to get the opportunity to compete against Georgia again and we expect a great SEC fight Sunday."
Carolina started out the match by dropping the doubles point with losses on courts three and two. First, Kennedy Wicker and Megan Davies were not able to top Georgia Drummy and Amanda Meyer, falling, 6-4, at the No. 3 spot.
Notching a win for the Gamecocks, No. 1-ranked Ingrid Martins and Mia Horvit won four-straight games against No. 55 Emma Kurtz and Emily Smith for a, 6-4, victory on court one.
Vanderbilt picked up the point after Rachel Rohrabacher and Paige Cline dropped their match, 6-3, to Summer Dvorak and Christina Rosca on court two.
With a chip on their shoulder heading in to singles, the Gamecocks played tough against the Commodores. In her first set, Silvia Chinellato closed out her first set against Smith, 6-3, at the No. 5 position. Chinellato played a quick second set, coming out on top, 6-2. After clinching against Florida on Friday, Chinellato played a quick match, evening the score, 1-1, for her team.
At the No. 4 position, Davies cruised to a first-set win, 6-1, opposite of Dvorak. In the second set, Davies took a, 4-1, lead before the Commodore brought it within one, 4-3. Davies was able to get the victory, 6-3, claiming two games in-a-row. Her, 6-1, 6-3, win put Carolina in front, 2-1.
With two more matches needing wins, courts one, two, three and six were all playing third sets. At the No. 1 position, No. 4-ranked Martins pulled it out against No. 65 Drummy. Martins took the first said against the Commodore, 6-3. In the second set, the two played back-and-forth with Drummy coming out on top, 6-4. Martins found her groove in the final set, taking it, 6-2, and making the Gamecocks one match closer to clinching at 3-1.
Looking to finish up the match and get her team to the finals, No. 23 Cline was battling with No. 17 Rosca on court two. The two played a close first set, but Cline won two-straight games for a, 6-4, win. Rosca controlled the second set, taking it, 6-1, and forcing a third. Cline won the first three games of the final set for a, 3-0, lead. She then found herself up, 5-1, against Rosca with a chance to clinch the match. Rosca made a small rally, bringing the third set to 5-3. Cline got the job done, downing Rosca, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, to send Carolina to the finals.
The Gamecocks are set to face No. 1-seeded Georgia (23-0, 13-0 SEC) at 4:30 p.m. ET in the finals matchup. Last time out, the two programs played a close match with the Bulldogs coming out on top, 4-2.