From the University of South Carolina
COLUMBIA, SC — The No. 20 South Carolina women's tennis team (10-4, 3-1 SEC) came back to defeat No. 39 Illinois (7-7, 2-1 Big Ten) by a 4-3 score Wednesday at Maxcy Gregg Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C.
The Gamecocks failed to win the doubles point, falling at positions two and three. Illinois' No. 3 tandem of Marisa Lambropoulos and Breanne Smutko pulled out an 8-3 decision over Anya Morgina and Adriana Pereira after trailing 2-1 after three games.
South Carolina's Miljana Jocic and Rita Maisak fell behind 3-0 to Chelcie Abajian and Rachael White at two before coming back to make the score 5-4. Abajian and White; however, managed to hold on for an 8-5 victory to give the Fighting Illini the 1-0 lead. South Carolina's No. 20-ranked team of Ana Marija Zubori and Dijana Stojic never fell behind in their 8-5 victory against Leigh Finnegan and Megan Fudge on court one to avoid an Illini sweep in doubles.
Stojic made the score 1-all after bouncing back from a loss in her last singles match with a dominating 6-3, 6-0 triumph over White at No. 2 singles. Stojic led 4-1 in the first set before White won a couple games to make it 4-3. From there, Stojic won eight straight games to improve to 11-3 this year at the No. 2 singles slot.
Smutko held on for a 6-2, 7-5 victory at No. 6 singles versus Maisak to put Illinois back on top 2-1. Maisak had a 5-1 lead in the second set after several strong service games and began firing winners against Smutko, but Smutko managed to hang in the match and win six straight games.
Lambropoulos defeated Pereira 6-3, 6-2 on court four to put Illinois ahead 3-1, but Morgina answered back immediately with a 6-4, 7-5 triumph over Finnegan at No. 3 singles to cut the margin to one. Jocic then pulled the Gamecocks even with Illinois with a 6-4, 6-0 decision against Abajian at the fifth position to mark her 11th consecutive victory.
With all eyes on court one, Zubori had a 4-3 lead in the second set against Fudge after winning the first 6-2. Zubori broke Fudge's serve to take a 5-3 lead and then continued her aggressive net play to ultimately win the match 6-3. With the win, Zubori moved into a tie for second place on the school's all-time list for singles victories with Lynn-Yin Tan at 103.
South Carolina returns to SEC play Friday when it plays at No. 28 Ole Miss at 4 p.m. ET before hosting No. 57 Mississippi State on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.