The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: South Carolina men’s tennis shows versatility, toughness in 6-1 victory over Ole Miss

Sophomore Connor Thompson serves the ball at the Carolina Tennis Center on Sunday March 20, 2022. The Gamecocks defeated the Ole Miss Rebels 6-1.
Sophomore Connor Thompson serves the ball at the Carolina Tennis Center on Sunday March 20, 2022. The Gamecocks defeated the Ole Miss Rebels 6-1.

The No. 7 South Carolina men’s tennis team defeated No. 31 Ole Miss 6-1 on Sunday at the Carolina Outdoor Tennis Center, showcasing its ability to defeat opponents quickly and battle hard for results when necessary.

The Gamecocks set the tone early with strong doubles play, earning the match’s first overall point with two doubles victories.

The No. 30 doubles pair of junior Daniel Rodrigues and sophomore Connor Thomson coasted to a 6-1 victory over No. 2 junior Lukas Engelhardt and Finn Reynolds. The win was their fifth over a ranked doubles pair this season.

Junior Jake Beasley and sophomore Toby Samuel followed suit with a 6-3 doubles win of their own after winning three consecutive games to clinch the set.

“We got a really solid doubles point,” head coach Josh Goffi said. “That’s something that is one of the best points that we have all year. (We’ve been) producing, and I think everyone knows that.”

In singles play, Rodrigues continued his positive run with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 21 junior Nikola Slavic. Despite dropping three games after holding a 5-0 advantage early in the second set, Rodrigues maintained his composure and put the match away.

The victory marked his fourth in a row against opponents ranked in the top 25.

Rodrigues said that facing opponents of that caliber “requires a lot of focus, a lot of mental work” and that playing on different courts each match makes it more challenging.

No. 86 Samuel (6-2, 6-3) and Thomson (6-2, 6-1) also made quick work of their opponents in straight set singles wins.

Beasley, on the other hand, emerged victorious after fighting through close matches throughout the afternoon. After losing a first-set tiebreaker 7-3, Beasley battled back to win the second set 7-5 and defeated No. 104 senior Jan Soren Hain 11-9 in a third set played in a first-to-10 format.

“It wasn’t pretty, but in the end, I kept bringing pressure and got through a few tight moments,” Beasley said. 

Junior Raphael Lambling clinched the Gamecocks' victory in similar fashion, outlasting Engelhardt 7-5 in a hard-fought second set for his fifth singles win in a row.

Goffi said that wins like these help the team build consistency as the season progresses.

“If we can make quick work, we will, and if not, we’re willing to go the distance and get it in the end,” Goffi said. “Ultimately, that provides us consistency over the season, and that’s our goal.”

South Carolina’s victory over Ole Miss extended its home winning streak to 14 consecutive matches, including 13 straight to begin the 2022 season. Goffi said that having a home-court advantage has been very important this year, especially in the talent-heavy SEC.

“Each court plays a little different, the air in each place is a little different, and so on, and just having the crowd is important, so it tilts the scales just a little bit,” Goffi said.

South Carolina (15-4, 4-2 SEC) returns to action in Raleigh, North Carolina, where it will face off against No. 33 NC State (10-5, 1-3 ACC) on Wednesday, March 23 at 3 p.m.


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