Gamecocks face off against No. 18 Auburn Friday at home
After a 7-0 defeat at the hands of No. 5 Georgia on Sunday, the USC women’s tennis team is looking to bounce back at home against No. 18 Auburn on Friday at 5 p.m.
Head coach Kevin Epley acknowledged how tough the last match against the talent of Georgia.
“Obviously, Georgia’s a really good team,” he said. “But doubles was competitive; we just didn’t turn the corner when we needed to. It was the same in a couple of singles matches that kept pretty close. We just weren’t able to win on those breakers.”
A main focus in practice this week for the No. 49 Gamecocks is to always compete. Epley said that no matter the situation, each player needs to believe they will come out on top.
“We’re just trying to go in with the mentality that we can be down on every court,” he said. “But, if you just hang in there for your match and compete a little bit, you have the opportunity to hopefully win a point for your team. You only need four to win a whole match.”
“We were close in some individual matches,” Epley said. “We just need to improve on a few details and we should be alright.”
Sophomore Alex Martin said that after the defeat against Georgia, there is a little extra motivation and focus within the team.
“Keeping the energy up is important for us,” she said. “We just need to be consistent and maintain that fighting image.”
Martin’s match against Mia King of Georgia was one of the closer matches of the day. Martin won the second set 7-5 after losing the first set 6-2. She ended up losing to King in a tense tiebreaker for the third set.
Martin said that Epley’s main philosophy this week has been to make sure each player is always fighting, and the team has been working on developing that persona.
The 8-7 Gamecocks are trying to break a three-match losing streak, and Epley believes that after taking a string of losses, it is important to keep everyone positive.
“I think that we’re really fighting to have a competitive spirit on every court,” he said. “We have some that are there and some not quite there. We just have to all get there to have a shot, because the best teams in this conference compete on every court.”
Martin said, in particular, she has been working on keeping every shot on the court and making her opponent work.
The Tigers are 14-2 and coming off a close loss against their rival Alabama. The Gamecocks will need to be prepared for the No. 51 singles player in the country, freshman Pleun Burgmans. Burgmans holds the top spot in the lineup for the Tigers and is 4-2 against nationally ranked opponents.
The Gamecocks will also be tested against sophomore Emily Flickinger and senior Plamena Kurteva who are both 4-1 against SEC opponents.
Martin said that the team knows the match will be a contested one but thinks the Gamecocks will be prepared for it.
“I think we’re going to come out strong and be fiery,” Martin said. “It’s going to be a close one; they’re a tough team.”
Epley said that this match is about going all out, and it will help lead the Gamecocks to success.
“We say it all the time,” Epley said. “But it’s just a matter of are you willing to dig out that extra ball in order to win?”