Junior Gregoire Lehmann
earned his first conference victory of the season Sunday afternoon after defeating Nick Jones in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3. Unfortunately, it was the only score No. 41 Arkansas could garner as No. 38 South Carolina took the victory, 4-1, at the Billingsley Tennis Center.
After doubles went to the wire in favor of South Carolina (15-9, 2-8 SEC), Arkansas (14-11, 1-9 SEC) got two first set wins in singles and had opportunities to take momentum back from the Gamecocks. Lehmann’s win at the time of the match had cut the team lead for the Gamecocks to 2-1. However, USC went on to score wins at courts one and six to secure the 4-1 victory.
“We didn’t come out as flat as we did on Friday,” Arkansas head coach Robert Cox
said. “We came out great in doubles. Our guys were fired up and it showed in our play. We engaged ourselves with positive attitudes and it showed early on. We had chances to put the doubles point away, but credit South Carolina for hitting good shots and returns. They switched the momentum on us, grabbed it and ran with it. A couple of spots in singles were beat up when we got down early. We need to stay on the court a little longer to allow those other courts to go in our favor.”
The energy was high on both sides with the match starting in doubles. The Hogs made quick work at court three as senior Nikolas Zogaj
and junior Mike Ward
both dominated their match with Kyle Koch and Carl Eguez to win, 8-4, and notch their second win together as a doubles team.
With a win already under their belt, the Razorbacks had a good opportunity to take the doubles point and the momentum into singles. Courts one and two went back and forth between the Gamecocks and Hogs as the top court held two nearly identical teams. South Carolina boasted the 47th-ranked team of Jones and Chip Cox, while Arkansas brought the 48th-ranked team of junior Hall Fess
and senior Matt Walters
Fess and Walters were looking for their 21st win of the year, but could not seem to get on top of Jones and Cox as a break separated them for nearly the entire match. Jones and Cox went on to win at the top spot, 8-6, and send the doubles point to be decided at court two.
It seemed with the win at court one, it was all the momentum South Carolina needed at court two as they won by an even bigger margin, 8-5, over sophomores Manfred Jeske
and Mike Nott
. With the loss, Jeske and Nott’s overall record falls to 12-7 and 3-5 in the Southeastern Conference.
Arkansas, on a mission to turn the tide in singles, looked to be well on its way as they scored two first set victories from Lehmann and Ward at courts two and five respectively. However, South Carolina easily took the first sets at courts one, three and six and also a close one at court four as Jeske could not top Thiago Pinheiro in the first frame, 7-5. The Gamecocks had first set wins at four out of the six singles courts, putting the Razorbacks in a tough hole.
South Carolina struck first with a win at court two to extend its team lead to 2-0, but that was when Lehmann defeated Jones to put Arkansas on the scoreboard for the first time of the day. The win for Lehmann breaks a tough stretch he has endured since the start of conference play. It breaks an eight-match conference losing streak he had coming into Sunday’s match and bumps his overall record up to 11-14 for the year and 10-12 in dual play.
“We needed someone to come off quick,” Cox said. “Greg did that today and that was big for him. It gave us a chance to make a move, but hats off to South Carolina. They had a couple of guys step up for them at courts one and three.”
Those two courts were nearly what pushed South Carolina into the win column as 121st-ranked Ivan Machado scored the second Gamecock win in singles with a victory over 108th-ranked Zogaj, 6-3, 6-2. Soon after, the Gamecocks closed out the day with a 6-3, 6-4 win for Koch at court six over Fess and play was suspended with the match already decided in the team standings.
The Razorbacks have one match left on their regular season schedule as they will face LSU on Saturday, April 14 at the Billingsley Tennis Center. First serve is set for 1 p.m. and it will also be Senior Day for Matt Walters
, Nikolas Zogaj
and Taj Harrison
. Senior Day ceremonies will be held in between doubles and singles.
#38 South Carolina 4
#41 Arkansas 1
Complete Doubles Results
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2*
Complete Singles Results
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1, 6*
No. 1 #121 Ivan Machado (USC) def. #108 Nikolas Zogaj
(ARK) 6-3, 6-2
No. 5 Mike Ward
(ARK) vs. Chip Cox (USC) 6-3, 5-6
No. 6 Kyle Koch (USC) def. Hall Fess
(ARK) 6-3, 6-4