South Carolina's men’s tennis team finished the weekend on a high note by beating Tennessee after falling just short of the upset against Kentucky.
The Kentucky match was a chance for the team to capture a win against a top-25 conference opponent, while the Tennessee match gave the Gamecocks a chance to beat the Volunteers for the first time in nine years.
On Friday, the Gamecocks (10-10, 2-4 SEC) squared off against the No. 18 Kentucky Wildcats (14-4, 4-2 SEC). The match would prove to be a highly competitive nail-biter that came right down to the end.
Doubles came down to the wire as William Bushamuka and Gus Benson of Kentucky beat Sam Swank and Gabriel Friedrich 7-5 in the No. 2 match. The Gamecocks had to win either the No. 1 or No. 3 match to have a chance to win doubles, but Harrison O’Keefe and Alex Fennell lost a tight No. 1 match 7-6.
Kentucky now had the 2-0 advantage moving into the singles matches.
It started off well as Harrison O'Keefe quickly won the No. 3 match 6-3, 6-2, while Alex Fennell made short work of Kentucky’s Austin Hussey 6-2, 6-1 in the No. 5 match. Now the match was tied 2-2.
The rest of the day did not go as well for the Gamecocks. Gus Benson defeated Sam Swank 7-5, 6-4 in the No. 6 match. Then, Kentucky’s Ryotaro Matsumura got the best of Andrew Schafer in the No. 2 match by a score of 7-5, 6-1.
Kentucky only needed one more win to seal the deal, and they secured this in the No. 1 match between Kentucky’s William Bushamuka and Gabriel Friedrich of USC. Bushamuka took the first set 6-4, but Friedrich won the second one 6-3. Bushamuka secured the win in the third set by a score of 6-3.
Sunday was a different story, as the Gamecocks rallied from their loss on Friday to defeat Tennessee for the first time in nine years 4-2. Rain forced the match inside, so the match skipped doubles and went straight to singles.
Gabriel Friedrich had the first victory of the day in the No. 1 match winning 6-2, 6-3. Then Alex Fennell won the No. 5 match over Jack Schipanski 6-3, 6-2.
Tennessee then won the No. 6 match as Sam Swank was defeated by Jack Heslin 6-2, 7-6. Tennessee also won the No. 4 match, but it would not matter as Andrew Schafer won the No. 2 match by a score of 6-1, 7-6, followed by Harrison O’Keefe, securing a victory in the tightly contested No. 3 match against Timo Stodder by a score of 6-1, 2-6, 6-4.
The Gamecocks’ (now 10-10, 2-6 SEC) next match is against LSU in Baton Rouge on April 1.