South Carolina topples South Florida, San Diego
As the ball fell out of bounds, freshman Andrew Schafer of the South Carolina men’s tennis team let out a thundering scream. He faced his team and threw his shirt and racquet in the air.
His voice and the clang of the racquet echoed throughout the tennis center as his teammates stormed the court to hoist him on their shoulders, celebrating the 4-3 victory for the men’s tennis team over San Diego.
Schafer fell down early his first set, trailing three games to none. He came back and won that set 6-4. He again dug himself into a hole early in the second game and would go on to losing that one 7-6 on a tiebreaker.
“The second set was tight. We were both breaking each other’s serve. I wasn’t serving well, so I needed to stick to his return games,” Schafer said. “It came down to a tiebreaker, it was 2-0, he had a couple points that went his way and I got negative.”
Comebacks were the story of the day for the Gamecocks. After losing the doubles point, South Carolina was able to come back and tie the Toreros 2-2 after singles victories from seniors Tsvetan Mihov and Chip Cox.
After falling behind again 3-2, the Gamecocks had to win the last two singles matches to clinch the team victory.
South Carolina tied it up with a victory from junior Andrew Adams in straight sets 6-3, 6-4.
“[Adams is] a baller. He’s one of the toughest guys we’ve had two years straight. He’s at the top of our lineup. He’s just going to work on people,” coach Josh Goffi said. “You have Schafer and Adams on the court at the end of the day, you feel pretty comfortable as a coach out there, you can’t ask for a better double.”
With the match knotted up at three, all eyes turned to Schafer to close out the team victory.
He jumped off to a quick lead and ended up pushing the game score to 5-3. With only one game left to clinch the win for his team, he was quickly serving for match point.
Schafer served and his opponent hit it out of play, leaving the court in defeat as Schafer, red in the face, erupted and went to celebrate with his team.
“Once that lob went up, I knew it was done,” Goffi said. “Schafer took his legs out and he was cramping and you’re not going to get up from that overhead with any kind of accuracy or power. Regardless of if that ball came back into the court, Schafer was going to have a look at it. It was nice to get that match over and done with because our guys did such a great job they deserved a win.”
For Schafer, it was an indescribable feeling. He said that, while he’s just 19, he’s never felt anything like clinching the victory Sunday.
After beating South Florida on Friday and then San Diego on Sunday, the Gamecocks improved to 7-4. Goffi said that his team needs more matches like the ones this weekend in order to get them to where they need to be.
“We’re working everyday on the little things to get better as individuals. We have such a team mindset that we need to get back to the little things that make each guy better,” Goffi said. “We’re still not great and we have to get there soon. The whole goal is that we’re going to learn how to build off this win.”