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Gamecocks Advance to NCAA Second Round

South Carolina took control of the top two doubles matches midway through their first sets.
South Carolina took control of the top two doubles matches midway through their first sets.(South Carolina Athletics)
Published: May. 7, 2021 at 9:54 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - COLUMBIA, S.C. - No. 13 South Carolina men’s tennis swept UNC Wilmington 4-0 Friday afternoon to advance to the second round of the NCAA Championships. The Gamecocks advance to play No. 24 NC State on Sat., May 8, at 1 p.m. at Carolina Tennis Center.

“It was efficient,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “Some guys were as sharp as could be today, and that’s what we were looking for. We had some guys with slow starts in singles, but they were able to recover and get their feet underneath them later in the sets. We love that, and it’s a great rep going into tomorrow. UNC Wilmington challenged us, and we had to bear down a little bit, which is exactly what we were looking for. We’re feeling pretty good about going into playing NC State tomorrow afternoon.”

South Carolina took control of the top two doubles matches midway through their first sets. In the No. 2 match, Jake Beasley and Toby Samuel went up a break at 3-1, pushing their lead to 5-1. The Seahawks got a break back to cut the deficit to 5-2, but the Gamecock duo pushed back in the next game, forcing a match-deciding deuce point. Beasley finished off a short rally with a backhand volley to seal the 6-2 victory.

At the top of the doubles lineup, No. 13 Daniel Rodrigues and Connor Thomson scored their break in the sixth game, taking a 4-2 lead into the final games. The duo held onto that break and delivered the doubles point with a 6-3 win punctuated by a Rodrigues overhead on match point. The Gamecocks continued that momentum into singles, winning three first sets quickly and then rallying back to win the next three as well.

Lambling was the sharpest of the Gamecocks on Friday, playing Bekhzod Rasamatov in the No. 4 match, the sophomore dominated from start to finish to put South Carolina up 2-0 with his 6-0, 6-0 victory.

The No. 1 match featured three service breaks in the first four games with second-ranked Rodrigues going ahead 3-1 and then winning the next three games for a quick 6-1 first set over Bruno Caula. The second set got off to a similar start with three breaks over the first five games before Rodrigues settled in at 4-3 and capped his victory with a service return winner for a 6-3 final score.

Thomson, Samuel, Beasley and Thomas Brown had all won their first sets as well, including a great comeback from Brown who turned a 1-4 deficit into a 7-5 first-set victory on his graduation weekend.

Needing just one more point to clinch the match, the Gamecocks looked again to Samuel, who was up 6-3 and 4-0 against Daniel Groom in the No. 3 match. Groom closed within 5-2 after shaking off a couple of break points. Samuel persisted, delivering the 6-2 win with a service winner, clinching the a team victory for the third time in four matches.

NC State advanced to the NCAA Championship second round earlier Friday after FGCU was forced to withdraw from the event due to COVID-19 contact tracing. It will be the second meeting between the Gamecocks and Wolfpack at Carolina Tennis Center this season. South Carolina posted a 4-0 win in the first meeting on Mar. 19.

For all the latest South Carolina men’s tennis information, continue to follow GamecocksOnline.com or the team on social media (@GamecockMTennis).

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