Gamecocks wrap up home schedule against MSU
The No. 40 South Carolina men’s tennis team split its home-stand this weekend, beating No. 50 Ole Miss by a score of 4-2 on Friday and falling to No. 16 Mississippi State 4-1 on Sunday.
The Gamecocks now sit at 12-11 (4-6 SEC) with two matches remaining before the SEC Tournament.
Friday’s win against Ole Miss was the Gamecocks’ fifth win in their last six matches, momentum they looked to continue to build on as the postseason grew closer. Mississippi State, the highest-ranked team South Carolina had faced in nearly a month, had other plans.
“That was a good team,” head coach Josh Goffi said. “They desperately needed that win going into the tournament. They know we’re a good team and that we’re a little under-ranked right now, and they knew that was a dangerous match. They were on edge. We just didn’t take advantage of that today.”
South Carolina struggled in doubles play against Mississippi State, digging itself into an early 0-1 hole it was not able to overcome.
“For whatever reason, we weren’t firing on any cylinders in doubles, again,” Goffi said. “When you give a highly-ranked, good team as Mississippi [State] a little bit of confidence they definitely stretch the lead. At that point it was tough to get back.”
The issue, according to Goffi, is chemistry.
“[Doubles] is a team sport and we’re struggling within some teams to get the chemistry right,” Goffi said. “There is some lack of belief going on with our new No. 1 team which is weird because they were 9-0 going into this weekend. They’re good enough to play one but apparently the belief isn’t there.”
Slow starts were once again an issue for the Gamecocks in Sunday’s match against Mississippi State.
South Carolina lost four of the first six opening sets in singles play. Despite nearly coming back in a number of the matches, the early holes proved too deep to climb out of.
“We came within a couple points of turning that match around, and as we always do, we fought till the end,” Goffi said. “But we started fighting a little too late.”
The Gamecocks will have to recover quickly. With just two matches to go before the SEC Tournament, another loss would be costly.
“We need more energy, we need more belief and we desperately need another SEC win to lock in postseason and move this program forward where we know it belongs,” Goffi said.
The Gamecocks look to get back on the right track this weekend when they travel to No. 14 Kentucky and No. 26 Vanderbilt.
The pressure is mounting as the season progresses, and Goffi recognizes what needs to be done in order for the Gamecocks to reach their goals.
“The guys have a heavy load on their back and there’s a lot of weight on their shoulders but that’s what it’s going to take in order to be great,” Goffi said. “Moving forward we have got to go hunt for a win and be a little more enthusiastic about it.”