Carolina Tennis Center hosted two matches on Feb. 2 as Gamecocks men's tennis faced off against the Charlotte 49ers and the South Carolina State Bulldogs.
In the first match of the day, the Gamecocks started out slow by dropping several early sets. However, South Carolina was able to overcome a slow start to win all seven matches against the 49ers. Head coach Josh Goffi credited the culture that has been instilled into the men's tennis program.
"Battling back, that's the mainstay of the program," Goffi said. "We kinda hang our hat on being the toughest team around. So we're never gonna go away. That's something the guys have bought into."
Despite losing some early sets, South Carolina was able to recover and swept the matches. Goffi was happy with how the team was able to recover against a solid Charlotte squad.
"We knew Charlotte was coming to play," Goffi said. "They took out a couple SEC teams already ... we were fortunate enough to know that those guys were coming and they're a good team, so we prepared all week for them."
The second match of the day was between the Gamecocks and the South Carolina State Bulldogs. The Gamecocks were able to control this matchup, as they were again able to sweep the Bulldogs. Only one match went into a third set, and the Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 7-0.
Goffi is pleased with where his team is, especially considering that the Gamecocks have several young players. The high level of play was a very encouraging sign as the Gamecocks continue to improve before SEC play begins.
The double header also gave South Carolina a chance to work out its doubles lineups and try out new looks. Goffi said post game that it will probably be another month before those doubles lineups are completely set. Winning the doubles point in both of the days competitions is very encouraging to the Gamecocks coaching staff.
However, the Gamecocks won't have much time to celebrate, as they will quickly return to action on the court.
South Carolina will play Presbyterian College next, followed by North Carolina State and Clemson University. While the Gamecocks are playing top-level teams in the non-conference portion of the schedule, Goffi embraces the challenges that come with it.
"Love our schedule this year," Goffi said. "The teams that we're playing non-conference are knocking off some big teams ... there's a lot of meat left on the bone before SECs, and the whole point is that we want to get prepared for the SEC season."
The Gamecocks now find themselves with a 4-1 record as they go into the more difficult portion of their non-conference schedule. They hope that this stretch will prepare them for SEC play, which begins on March 1 when the Gamecocks travel to Fayetteville to face off against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The Gamecocks' next home game will be against Presbyterian College on Feb. 6 at 2:30 p.m.