Athens, Ga. – No. 9 South Carolina men’s tennis fell to No. 30 Auburn 4-2 in the quarterfinal round of the SEC Tournament on Friday. The Gamecocks took a 2-0 lead with the doubles point and a quick singles win from Toby Samuelbut the Tigers gained momentum with a pair of wins over the bottom half of the Gamecocks’ altered singles lineup, which was missing its steady No. 4 in Raphael Lambling (illness).
“All the credit goes to Auburn,” said head coach Josh Clumsy. “They’re building something pretty good over there right now. You can feel it with their energy, you can feel it in their competitiveness. They had an impressive match yesterday and an even more impressive match today. Our guys could’ve been better , but (Auburn) played a great match and you can feel their willingness to go to the depths that they need to go to get that win and they did, so congratulations to them.
The Gamecocks started the day strong in doubles. The first win went to sophomore Toby Samuel and freshman Casey Hoole, who earned a dominant 6-1 win from their newly promoted spot at No. 2 in the lineup. The duo is now a perfect 4-0 together.
Junior Jake Beasley and sophomore James Story clinched the doubles point from Court 3. The pair earned an early break to go up 3-0 to start the match. They maintained that lead through the next six games for the 6-3 victory.
No. 20 doubles pair Daniel Rodrigues and Connor Thomson were leading No. 11 Tad Maclean and Finn Murgett 5-3 when play was suspended.
The first singles win of the day came from Samuel on Court 2. The 94th ranked Gamecock made quick work of Jan Galka, beating him 6-2 in the first set and blanking him for a 6-0 second set to put South Carolina up 2 -0.
The Nos. 1 and 3 spots were on track as well, with Rodrigues and Thomson claiming their first sets, but the Tigers were pushing ahead in the next three spots where all three Gamecocks were playing out of position.
As the Tigers leveled the Nos. 1 and 3 matches, the momentum carried over with Story falling on Court 4 and sophomore Carter Morgan dropping his match on Court 6.
In the No. 5 spot, Hoole rallied back to force a third set but could not complete the comeback. With the Tigers up 3-2 and the match in the balance, No. 28 Tyler Stice closed out his third set over Rodrigues to deliver the win and Auburn’s spot in the semifinals.
South Carolina awaits a bid in the NCAA Tournament field, which will be announced on Mon., May 2. NCAA Tournament matches will being on May 5 at campus locations to be determined.
For all the latest South Carolina men’s tennis information, continue to follow GamecocksOnline.com or the team on social media (@GamecockMTennis).
(30) Auburn 4, (9) South Carolina 2
Doubles (order of finish: 2, 3)
1. (22) Rodrigues / Thomson (SC) led (11) Maclean / Murgett (AU) 5-3, unfinished
2. Samule / Hoole (SC) def. Stice / Galka (AU) 6-1
3. Beasley / Story (SC) def. Giddens / Ross (AU) 6-3
Singles (order of finish: 2, 4, 6, 5, 1)
1. (28) Stice (AU) def. (2) Rodrigues (SC) 4-6, 6-1, 6-3
2. (94) Samuel (SC) def. Galka (AU) 6-2, 6-0
3. Thomson (SC) even with Maclean (AU) 6-0, 6-7 (6), 3-3
4. Murgett (AU) def. Story (SC) 6-2, 6-2
5. Nolan (AU) def. Hoole (SC) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
6. Gray (AU) def. Morgan (SC) 7-6 (5), 6-2