URBANA, Ill. - South Carolina junior Tsvetan Mihov continued his steady play in the NCAA Men's Tennis Singles Championship Thursday afternoon, reaching the round of 16 with a convincing straight-set victory that will earn him All-America honors at the conclusion of the tournament. Mihov and doubles partner Chip Cox dropped their opening-round match in the Doubles Championship.
"I'm really excited for [Tsvetan]," South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. "The second round is a tricky match for most people because everyone is fighting for All-America status. But he played solid Gamecock tennis today, and it paid off with the win. It's big for `Bull,' and it's big for our program in all aspects."
After inclement weather postponed then moved his match indoors to the Atkins Tennis Center, Mihov put in a workman-like effort against No. 36 Roberto Quiroz of Southern Cal. After a pair of holds, the Gamecock junior got the first break of the match to forge ahead 3-1. It was all he needed as the two traded service games through the rest of the 6-3 set. Mihov opened the second with a break, but Quiroz got it right back. Undaunted, the Bulgarian kept the pressure on and broke again to go up 2-1 and consolidated it with a hold for a 3-1 lead that he sustained throughout to close out the 6-3 victory.
Mihov did not fare as well in doubles play where serving difficulties made it an uphill battle against No. 22 Moritz Beurchner and Norbert Nemcsek of North Florida. The Gamecocks' top tandem, ranked 17th in the nation, fell behind early in both sets. Mihov and Cox both dropped their first service games and, despite pressing the Ospreys in both of theirs, trailed 0-4 early in the first set. UNF did not let up, yielding just two games and allowing just one break point in the set en route to the 6-2 victory. The second set followed nearly the same pattern with Beurchner/Nemcsek jumping out to a 4-0 lead. Mihov/Cox got one of the breaks back to pull within 4-2, but the Ospreys responded with their third break of the set, closing the set a 6-2.
Mihov will continue in singles action on Friday, taking on Ohio State's Blaz Rola, ranked 12th in the nation. Live stats and video of all matches is available at www.fightingillini.com/ncaatennis2013/