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USC Competes at Campus Championship

April 28, 2008 04:10 PM

The USTA’s Tennis On Campus continues to catch on across college campuses throughout the country. The University of South Carolina is no exception, where the Gamecock squad recently competed at the 2008 Campus Championship in Cary, North Carolina.

After failing to receive a nationals bid from the southern section tournament, the co-ed team planned on staying home, but a last minute call changed their plans. Sophomore and team president Neal Robinson received a call at 10:30 pm from tournament officials, saying that a spot had opened for the USC team. Neal rounded up the team and they left Columbia at 3:50 am the next morning. Just a few hours later, the six-player team was on the court in Cary, NC for their opening match.

USC’s players scrambled to get school work done and contact professors, but the exhausted Gamecock team made it to the Campus Championship. In only their second year on campus, USC’s team looked to improve upon a 49th place finish in 2007.
“After I found out that we were sixth on the waiting list, I thought we wouldn’t get in the tournament. But when I found out late Wednesday night, I wanted the team to make the most out of the opportunity,” said men’s team captain Ben McFarland.
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The Gamecocks did not waste any time, winning two out of three matches on Thursday and earning a spot in the silver bracket. Friday’s matches came down to a match-up with the University of North Carolina, the only team to beat USC in the southern sectionals. The intensity of the border battle was increased when both teams agreed that the losing team would have to go a year without referring to themselves as “Carolina.”

Doubles started strong for the Gamecocks. Neal Robinson and Chas Harris won and Carolina Clark and Heather Welch won a close match, 6-5. After two close singles losses, South Carolina went into mixed doubles tied with the Tar Heels, but Ben McFarland and Jessica Stripp fell short for the first time all season in mixed doubles.

“Ben and I were playing so well together all weekend so to come up short against Carolina was disappointing,” said Stripp. “They are a great team, and we still have a lot of improving to do before we will begin to pull out those tight matches.”

USC rebounded on the final day with a win over Elon, giving the Gamecocks a 29th place finish in the national tournament. With such an exciting finish to the season, things are looking up for Tennis on Campus in Columbia, SC.

“I’m proud of the direction that the club team is headed in after just two years. This year’s 29th place finish at nationals was a 20 spot improvement from last year,” said Neal Robinson. “The credit goes to a number of people, but first and foremost to the clubs 50 members and the USTA for their financial help.”

If you are a South Carolina college student and would like more information on Tennis On Campus, contact Graham Cox at cox@sctennis.com.

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