The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: South Carolina men’s tennis continues undefeated start to season with victory over Clemson

<p>The Gamecocks sign off with the Alma Mater after a massive sweep against the Tigers. The Gamecocks beat the Tigers 7-0. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p>
The Gamecocks sign off with the Alma Mater after a massive sweep against the Tigers. The Gamecocks beat the Tigers 7-0.   

The No. 13 South Carolina men’s tennis team extended its season-opening win streak to seven games after beating Clemson 7-0 at the Carolina Indoor Tennis Center on Feb. 4. 

South Carolina started each match strongly and won the doubles point and five of the first six sets in singles play. Despite multiple second-set comebacks from Clemson, the Gamecocks recovered quickly and were able to finish on a high note.

“We came out with great energy,” head coach Josh Goffi said. “That was our main goal today, it was start to finish.”

The Gamecocks and the Tigers faced off in front of a packed house. The energy in the Carolina Indoor Tennis Center was electric throughout the matchup and played an important role in the Gamecocks’ victory.

“We focused this week on bringing a lot of energy, and everybody did a great job,” Beasley said. “Great atmosphere, the fans were awesome and that was a big focus for today.”

The Gamecocks earned its first point of the evening through two dominant doubles victories.

Junior Jake Beasley and sophomore Toby Samuel carried positive momentum from their first ranked victory on Sunday against Duke into tonight’s match. Beasley and Samuel earned a 6-3 victory over their opponents.

Junior Daniel Rodrigues and sophomore Connor Thomson improved their undefeated doubles record to 6-0. The pair won 6-1 against Clemson sophomores Ryuhei Azuma and Spencer Whitaker.

Rodrigues’ and Thomson’s success in doubles carried into their singles matches as they defeated both their opponents in straight sets. 

The No. 29 ranked Rodrigues took a commanding lead over No. 109 ranked senior Teodar Giusca in the first set. Rodrigues won five straight points after a tie at one all. Giusca fought hard in the second set, but Rodrigues stayed in command and prevailed. He won the final three games after finding himself down four games to five. 

Thomson used his pace and power to his advantage and finished his two sets quickly by scores of 6-2 and 6-0. He never relinquished a lead in either.

Another straight-set victory came from sophomore James Story in his face-off against Clemson freshman Max Smith. After finding himself down one game to two early, Story won the next five games to win the first set 6-2. 

Story carried that momentum into the second set. He took the lead at two sets to one and eventually won 6-3.

“It feels great to beat them and sweep them, especially not losing one match,” Story said. “That's exactly what we came here to do: be ruthless and show them who owns this state.”

Junior Jake Beasley delivered one of the Gamecocks’ standout performances of the night when he won a hard-fought match in three sets. Beasley turned a tie at three all into a 6-3 first set win, but a back-and-forth second set saw him lose that advantage as he fell to redshirt freshman Matt Pitts 5-7.

Momentum shifted back into Beasley's favor in the deciding set, which he won by a perfect 6-0 score.

“It means a lot, especially because it’s Clemson, a big match,” Beasley said.

South Carolina will return to action at the Carolina Tennis Center on Feb. 6 at noon against Georgia Tech.