OXFORD, Miss. - No. 17 South Carolina dropped a 4-0 decision to No. 14 Florida Friday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament at Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center on the Ole Miss campus. The third-seeded Gators won the doubles point and kept the Gamecocks on their heels in singles action. Junior Chip Cox and sophomore Thiago Pinheiro won their first sets, but Florida secured the first three singles matches to advance to Saturday's semifinals.
Doubles was evenly matched early with the Gators getting the first break, taking leads in the Nos. 2 and 3 matches. Pinheiro and Andrew Adams had a few opportunities to get the break back in the No. 3 match, but Florent Diep and Gordon Watson staved off the surge. The nation's 37th-ranked duo of Stephane Piro and Bob van Overbeek followed their teammates with a break to take a 6-2 lead over Cox and Tsvetan Mihov at the top of the lineup. The Gators closed out the match 8-3 just ahead of the No. 3 contest going Florida's way as well, 8-5.
Playing their first match of the tournament, the Gators leapt in front early in singles, except for Pinheiro and Cox. While yesterday's hero Pinheiro was on serve with No. 113 van Overbeek in the No. 3 match, Cox was storming past Watson 6-2 in the No. 5 contest. The four other second sets started better for the Gamecocks, while Pinheiro and van Overbeek headed into their first-set tiebreak. The Gamecock sophomore won the set, hoping to spark a rally for his teammates.
Florida stayed the course, however, picking up service breaks at Nos. 1, 2 and 4 in rapid succession. From there, the match closed quickly. No. 68 Piro topped No. 39 Mihov 6-2, 6-2 at the top of the order to make it a 2-0 Gator lead. No. 88 Diep edged out No. 80 Adams 6-1, 6-4 in the No. 2 outing, and Alford shook off a missed opportunity on his first match point to get past Kyle Koch 6-2, 6-4 to seal the victory.
The loss gives the Gamecocks an 18-10 overall record. South Carolina will await the NCAA Tournament bracket announcement on Tue., April 30, to find out where its season will continue.
#14 Florida 4, #17 South Carolina 0
Doubles (Order of Finish: 1, 3*)
1. (37) Stephane Piro/Bob van Overbeek (UF) def. (14) Chip Cox/Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 8-3
2. (40) Michael Alford/Luke Johnson (UF) led (50) Kyle Koch/Harry Menzies (SC) 7-6 suspended
3. Florent Diep/Gordon Watson (UF) def. Thiago Pinheiro/Andrew Adams (SC) 8-5
Singles (Order of Finish: 1, 2, 4*)
1. (68) Stephane Piro (UF) def. (39) Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 6-2, 6-2
2. (88) Florent Diep (UF) def. (80) Andrew Adams (SC) 6-1, 6-4
3. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) led (113) Bob van Overbeek (UF) 7-6, 3-2 suspended
4. Michael Alford (UF) def. Kyle Koch (SC) 6-2, 6-4
5. Chip Cox (SC) led Gordon Watson (UF) 6-2, 4-6, 1-0 suspended
6. Luke Johnson (UF) led Harry Menzies (SC) 6-4, 6-5 suspended