The South Carolina women's tennis team took down Clemson University and Charleston Southern in a Sunday doubleheader to improve to 3-4 on the season.
This was the team's first set of home matches this season as it played in front of the packed house during the Clemson match at the Carolina Tennis Center.
The Gamecocks took down the Clemson Tigers in the first match of the day, 4-2, after winning the doubles point and three singles matches.
Juniors Ayana Akli and Ana Cruz quickly dominated Clemson’s Eleni Louka and Jenna Thomson to win the first doubles match of the day six to love. South Carolina clinched the doubles point after another decisive 6-2 win from duo Megan Davies and Gracie Mulville.
The six singles matches were much tighter for the Gamecocks, coming down to the wire in the final two matches. Freshman Misa Malkin came back from losing the second set to clinch the win for South Carolina, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (7-3).
"The feeling was amazing that I did what I did and got the W for us." said Malkin
Freshman and No. 2 singles player Sarah Hamner earned a ranked win in straight, 6-3, 6-2, sets over No. 113 Cristina Mayorova. After struggling slightly early in the first set, Hamner took control of the rest of the match to secure the second point for South Carolina.
From then on, every singles match was close, with many players like No. 109 Elise Mills and No. 43 Akli having to work from being behind early.
"We have been known for our fight throughout the years," said head coach Kevin Epley after the matches. "It's something that we stress a lot. So, this idea that we're never going to give up is crucial to our culture."
True to form, after losing the first set, 2-6, Mills dominated the next two sets, winning them 6-0 and 6-2, to put the third point of the day on the board for South Carolina.
Akli on the other hand ended up dropping her match in straight 7-6, 6-4 sets after a close 6-8 tiebreak in the first set.
The Gamecocks carried the momentum into the team's match against Charleston Southern, where it won 6-1 to end the day on a high note.
The doubles point was quickly taken control of by South Carolina to start the match, with duo Akli and Cruz once again dominating their opponent in a 6-1 win.
Hamner and sophomore Lindsay Tulenko also had a strong 6-2 win over duo Khyanna Singh and Madalina Man to clinch the doubles point.
South Carolina had a lot of success in doubles on the day, which was something the team had been working on improving, according Epley.
Singles was a mixed bag of close and dominant matches from the home team. Although, the first three singles matches were finished quickly to secure the match victory for South Carolina.
Hamner, Akli and Mills all won their matches in straight sets with Hamner winning 6-2, 6-0, Akli taking her match 6-1, 6-2 and Mills taking down her opponent 6-2, 6-0.
The three remaining matches were much closer, with Cruz coming back to win the second set, 6-4, after losing the first set 6-3. She won her match in a third set tiebreak, 10-5.
Malkin played another close match to end the day, winning the first set in an 8-6 tiebreak. She then carried that momentum into the second set where she won 6-1.
"I think if we can keep stepping up in the big moments, then thats whats going to be the difference when we make it to SEC season," said Mills.
The South Carolina women's tennis team will start conference play on the road against the Texas A&M Aggies on March 4. The next time the Gamecocks will play at home is March 11 when the team takes on Tennessee.