NORMAN – The Oklahoma women’s tennis team is set for ITA Kickoff Weekend beginning Friday at the University of South Carolina. This year will mark the Sooners’ first appearance at the event since 2014.
The Sooners enter the weekend as the No. 4 seed in the pool, which includes No. 1 seed and host South Carolina, No. 2 USC and Clemson as the 3-seed. OU will meet South Carolina in the first round on Friday at 1 p.m. CT, then take on either Clemson or USC Saturday.
The nation-wide event features 15 “regionals” with four teams competing at location. Opening round contests feature the No. 1 (host) seed versus the No. 4 seed, and the No. 2 seed against the No. 3 seed. The two winners advance to the following day's championship match, while the two losing teams will square off in a consolation match.
The winners of the single-elimination event punch their ticket to next month's ITA Division I National Team Indoor Championships hosted by the University of Wisconsin.
The Sooners come into Kickoff Weekend at 1-1 on the season after a road trip to Auburn.
OU fell to No. 14 Auburn in the first contest of the year, 4-0. The Sooners then rolled to a 4-1 win over Georgia State with No. 14 Lily Miyazaki, Malene Stripp and Skyler Miller all grabbing singles wins after OU also won the doubles point.
Miller, who joined the roster this spring, clinched the match for the Sooners with a 6-4, 7-5, victory on court six, to pick up her first career win at OU.
Scouting South Carolina
The Gamecocks enter the matchup ranked No. 25 in the latest ITA rankings. South Carolina opened the season with a 4-0 rout of USF and a narrow, 4-3 loss to UCF last weekend to post a 1-1 record heading into the Kickoff Weekend.
In singles action, No. 43 Hadley Berg leads the Gamecocks, winning nine of her last 10 matches going back to fall tournament play. The senior posted a 21-3 record in spring duals in 2017 at the bottom of the lineup.
The Gamecocks’ roster features one other ranked player in No. 105 Megan Davies. Davies, a freshman, compiled a record of 15-3 during the fall.
In doubles, Berg and Rachel Rohrabacher are ranked No. 33 nationally after a 5-1 run this fall, while No. 48 Davies and Silvia Chinellato went 11-3.
Saturday’s contest will be the second-ever meeting between the Sooners and the Gamecocks. The teams’ only other clash was in 1986, when South Carolina bested OU, 8-1.
USC is 2-1 through two weekends of play. The Trojans opened 2018 with a 6-1 rout of San Diego, 6-1, on Jan. 14, then took down Loyola Marymount, 5-2, before falling to UC Santa Barbara, 6-1, last weekend.
USC has two ranked singles players: No. 35 Gabby Smith, who finished the fall with a 12-6 record, while No. 85 Madison Westby went 7-5.
Angela Kulikov and Rianna Valdes are the Trojans’ only ranked doubles team, clocking in at No. 46 after compiling a 3-0 fall record.
Should the Sooners face USC on Sunday, the matchup will mark the second meeting of the teams. OU last faced the Trojans in 1999, when USC won, 8-1, in Los Angeles.
Clemson comes enters ITA Kickoff Weekend at 2-0 on the season after convincing wins over Charleston Southern, 7-0, and Appalachian State, 4-0, last weekend.
Marie-Alexandre Leduc is the Tigers’ only ranked singles player, sitting at No. 20 in the latest ITA release. Leduc finished the fall season with a 9-3 record in singles play, including wins over five nationally-ranked opponents.
The Sooners are 0-3 all time in matchups with Clemson. The teams last met in 2002, when the Tigers defeated OU, 5-2, in Norman.
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