With college tennis season now in full swing, the Gamecock tennis teams will attend the Australian Open 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.
South Carolina will compete in the first dual matches to ever be played at the Australian Open. In Melbourne, they'll take on Southern California and Tennis Australia National Academy players.
The teams will play both exhibition and regular season matches. The regular season dual match will count towards both South Carolina and Southern California's Oracle ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings along with the overall record for the 2019 spring season.
South Carolina's women's tennis team has not faced Southern California since 1982. The men's team will face Southern California for the first time since 1990, when they played one match during the regular season and one during the NCAA tournament.
The Gamecocks left for Australia on Monday to begin their week and prepare for the the competition.
"College tennis is getting more and more traction around the world these days as some of our best players are competing, and succeeding, at the professional level," said head women's coach Kevin Epley according to Gamecocks Online. "It will be an awesome experience for all the teams to showcase our sport at a world class venue in another country."
Both teams are ranked in the top 25 to start the season with the women's team at No. 13 and the men's team at No. 25.
Along with team rankings, the Gamecocks are also bringing in five ranked singles players: No. 7 Paul Jubb, No. 12 Ingrid Gamarra Martins, No. 25 Paige Cline, No. 69 Mia Horvit and No. 72 Joseph Brailovsky. There are also three doubles teams in the rankings: No. 11 Martins and Horvit, No. 23 Rachel Rohrabacher and Megan Davies, and No. T59 Gamarra Martins and Silvia Chinellato.
"We talk about what pros do all the time," said Epley according to the @gamecockwtennis Instagram page. "It's a good time to get some exposure to that level and compare and contrast their (the player's) games."
The Gamecocks had a successful fall season, making strong appearances at several tournaments and at the ITA National Fall Championships.
The men's team consists of six freshmen and three upperclassmen for the 2018-2019 season. South Carolina finished with a record of 96-41 in singles matches and 25-19 in doubles throughout the fall tournament schedule.
The women's team returned with a team of upperclassmen that went 46-25 in singles and 23-15 in doubles.
"All of our student-athletes have grown up watching all of the Grand Slams and have dreamed of playing in them," said men's head coach Josh Goffi according to Gamecocks Online."To be able to play in Melbourne Park during the Australian Open is a dream come true for everyone involved. Our guys are still in disbelief, but are counting down the days until we leave."
The Gamecocks will face off against Southern California on Jan. 22.