The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: South Carolina men's tennis team takes down LSU in ITA Kickoff Weekend

FILE—Junior Raphael Lambling prepares to serve to his opponent during a match on October 31, 2021. The Gamecocks beat LSU 4-1 on January 29, 2022 in Columbia, SC.
FILE—Junior Raphael Lambling prepares to serve to his opponent during a match on October 31, 2021. The Gamecocks beat LSU 4-1 on January 29, 2022 in Columbia, SC.

The No. 12 South Carolina Men's Tennis team took down the LSU Tigers 4-1 on Saturday during the ITA Kickoff Weekend. 

With the win, the team is now 5-0 on the season and will play in the championship on Sunday. 

The team saw one of its first challenges in the Tigers, with many Gamecocks winning their matches after coming from behind. Momentum seemed to make all the difference for South Carolina, as it was able to battle through every game.

"We love it. That's absolutely necessary for us to be successful is, and to get tested early in the season and get those competitive muscles fired up," Head Coach Josh Goffi said about the team's ability to come from behind during matches. 

The Gamecocks had a strong start to the day after going 2-1 in doubles, earning the first point of the match. 

Junior Daniel Rodrigues and sophomore Connor Thomson earned another win against a ranked doubles team after taking down No. 45 Gabriel Diaz Freire and Vlad Lobak 6-3. The duo has yet to lose a match so far this season, improving to 4-0.

Junior Raphael Lambling and sophomore James Story also remain unbeaten in doubles this season after their 6-3 win over Ben Koch and Nick Watson. 

The only doubles loss for the Gamecocks came from sophomore Toby Samuel and junior Jake Beasley, who dropped a close set 6-4. 

Both Rodrigues and Thomson won their singles matches 6-3, 6-3, in straight sets to secure two more points for South Carolina and the first two singles wins of the day. 

Thomson made quick work of beating Joao Graca during his match, despite taking some time in the first set. He came out with momentum in the second set, making it three to love early. 

The No. 29 ranked Rodrigues had to come from behind in the second set after dropping three games to two against Lobak. After giving up points early, Rodrigues was able to regain control of the set to win the next four games to stay perfect on the year. 

"I was tough enough to come back and to not panic, so I'm proud of myself and my teammates," Rodrigues said. 

The first set of Lambling's match against Kozlov was a battle after he took an early lead at two games to one. The rest of the set was a back-and-forth, with several ties at three all and five all before Lambling took the set 7-5. 

Lambling was able to come back to win the second set six to love after the tight first set to secure the win for South Carolina 4-1.

The only singles loss for the Gamecocks came when Beasley fell to Diaz Freire in straight sets 6-1, 6-4. The second set was much closer than the first, with Beasley keeping it within a game and even going up four games to three before ultimately dropping the set. 

"I feel good, I feel the team is doing really good when we're all backing each other up," Lambling said. "When someone doesn't play well, in those deals, the guys are going to take care of business."

The team will be back in action Sunday at the Carolina Tennis Center where it will play Duke at 2 p.m. in the championship match.


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