The Daily Gamecock

Men's tennis wins regular season finale

	<p>Senior Harry Menzies clenched the Gamecocks&#8217; men&#8217;s tennis victory against No. 8 Kentucky 4–3 this weekend.</p>
Senior Harry Menzies clenched the Gamecocks’ men’s tennis victory against No. 8 Kentucky 4–3 this weekend.

Senior Harry Menzies clinches men’s tennis victory on Senior Day

South Carolina men’s tennis ended its regular season in inspiring fashion Sunday, as senior and former walk-on Harry Menzies clinched the win on Senior Day against No. 8 Kentucky with a gritty rally to earn the 4-3 victory.

“Today couldn’t have been more storybook,” coach Josh Goffi said. “It really, honestly couldn’t. It was awesome. With the way his career has gone, that’s exactly what he needed. He needed that, and he deserved it.”

After winning the doubles point, the No. 22 Gamecocks dropped three straight singles matches, putting Kentucky one victory away from claiming the contest. With the pressure on, sophomores Thiago Pinheiro and Kyle Koch won their matches, bringing the score to 3-3 and putting Menzies in position to secure the victory.

After winning the first set and falling short in the second, Menzies faced a third-set tie at five games apiece. The only senior on USC’s roster won the next two games to seal the deal for himself and his team.

“It’s really special. It’s something I’ll never forget,” Menzies said. “I looked out here before the match, and I was looking around and just thinking, ‘You know, if we don’t win this match, this could be the last one I ever play in this facility.’”

Along with his heroics in singles play, Menzies contributed to the doubles point as well, partnering with Koch to earn the 8-5 victory. The duo has compiled a 15-7 record on the year en route to earning a No. 84 national ranking by the ITA.

The Gamecocks were also in action Friday, registering a definitive shutout victory against No. 13 Vanderbilt. South Carolina was led by a stellar performance from its top singles player, junior Tsvetan Mihov, as he toppled Vanderbilt’s Ryan Lipman, the 10th-ranked player in the country.

With consecutive statement victories over two top-15 teams in a row, Goffi said his team’s resilience speaks volumes about the character of his players.

“They’ve proven it again and again this season that they are just strong individuals,” Goffi said. “These kids are going to be very successful in whatever they do.”

USC’s strong final weekend earned the team a 17-9 overall record, the highest win total since 2005, and a 7-5 mark in the SEC, the most conference wins since the 1999 campaign.

The Gamecocks will practice once Tuesday before heading to Oxford, Miss., for the 2013 SEC Tournament, which begins Wednesday. As the No. 6 seed in the tournament, South Carolina will wait until Thursday for its first match, when it will face the 11th-seeded LSU Tigers (15-10, 5-7 SEC).

USC has no small task ahead, as the SEC has experienced a resurgence of talent this season, and the tournament will feature 11 of the nation’s top-25 teams.

Beginning the season at No. 39, South Carolina has jumped 17 spots in the ITA’s rankings, but Goffi said the Gamecocks are still underappreciated and will play with a chip on their shoulders come tournament time.

With a new winning culture hoping to be established in the men’s tennis program, Goffi said the team believes it can make waves in both the SEC tournament and, eventually, the NCAA.

“This year, I think our expectations have changed, and I think these guys are excited to go into tournament time,” Goffi said. “We’re setting new goals right now. The season’s done, and now we’re moving on to the tournament.”