URBANA, Ill. - South Carolina junior Tsvetan Mihov closed out his season with a tough loss to No. 12 Blaz Rola of Ohio State in the Round of 16 at the NCAA Men's Tennis Singles Championship Friday afternoon at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex on the campus of the University of Illinois.
"It's been a great tournament and a great year for Tsvetan," South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. "He's a little beat up after a long season, and it showed a little today. But major credit to Rola. He is one of the favorites for the tournament, and he played like it. All in all, what a spectacular year it has been for us. I can't wait to get going again next year."
After playing doubles late Thursday afternoon, No. 31 Mihov was back on the court for the first set of matches Friday morning. Rola put the pressure on the Gamecock junior's serve early, taking a 2-0 lead. Mihov saw a pair of break points on his opponents' next service game, claiming the second when Rola missed on a forehand to get back on serve at 2-2. The Buckeyes' left-hander shook off the setback to go up double break point in the next game. Mihov fought off one, but could not finish off the comeback. After Rola consolidated it with a hold, neither player held serve in the last three games, leaving the nation's 12th-ranked player to take the set 6-3.
Mihov continued to struggle with his serve in the second set, making it increasingly difficult to control points. Rola took advantage, allowing his opponent to hold serve just once in four games of the second set. Mihov continued to battle, earning a few break points of his own, but he capitalized on just one of them, cracking Rola as he served for the match at 5-1, before dropping the set 6-2.
Finishing his season with a 17-12 singles record, Mihov is the first Gamecock to play in the NCAA Singles Round of 16 since Seth Rose in 2003. By virtue of that finish, Mihov is set to join Rose with an All-America selection later this season, making him the 11th Gamecock to earn the honor.