Mississippi State Notches Third Straight Top-20 Win
BATON ROUGE, La. – For the first time since 2005, the Mississippi State men’s tennis squad (16-7, 6-5 SEC) has downed three-straight top 20 opponents, as the Bulldogs defeated the No. 20 LSU Tigers (13-10, 4-7 SEC) 4-1 in Baton Rouge Wednesday afternoon. With the win, State has now won its last four matches against the Tigers, including a 7-0 victory earlier this season.
The win continues what has been an impressive road showing for State this spring, improving to 6-0 in away matches. That is MSU's best mark on the road since the 1975 Bulldogs were 7-0. MSU has also won back-to-back matches in Baton Rouge for the first time since doing so in 1992 and 1994.
State took the early lead Wednesday by grabbing the doubles point, but would have to fight off a tough Tiger squad to get it. On court three, the two teams traded holds until the MSU duo of Pedro Dumont and Ethan Wilkinson earned a break to go up 6-5, eventually defeating LSU’s Boris Arias and Tam Trinh 8-6.
The State tandem of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp, ranked 12th in the nation, went up a break to start and then earned another break later in the match to go up 6-3. The Tigers’ No. 52 team of Chris Simpson and Stefan Szacinski would earn a break and then a hold to come within one, but Angus and Stropp held strong to take the match 8-6, clinching the doubles point for State. Play on court two was suspended at that point, with LSU’s Roger Anderson and Olivier Borsos leading MSU’s Romain Bogaerts and Zach White 7-6.
In singles, tiebreakers would be the determinant for the first set on four courts. After the teams had traded first sets on courts two and five, the Bulldogs would claim three of the breakers (two by 8-6 scores), capturing four of the six first sets in the process.
The MSU junior White was the most dominant point of the day, only dropping two games en route to defeating LSU’s Arias 6-2, 6-0 on court five for a 2-0 MSU lead. On court six, the freshman Dumont battled to take the first set tiebreaker 7-6(4) and then cruised to victory in the second set, downing the Tigers’ Harrison Kennedy 7-6(4), 6-1, pushing MSU's lead to 3-0.
LSU’s lone point of the day came on court two, as No. 104 Szacinski upended MSU’s No. 58 Stropp 6-3, 6-4.
The Bulldogs then clinched the match thanks to the work of senior James Chaudry who, after taking a first-set tiebreaker 7-6(6), found his groove in the second, blasting LSU’s Borsos to win 7-6(6), 6-0 and hand the Bulldogs the win.
Play on courts one and four were suspended once the match was clinched, with MSU freshman No. 12 Bogaerts leading 7-6(6), 2-3 against LSU’s No. 51 Simpson at the top spot and LSU’s Mark Bowtell leading MSU’s Angus 7-6(1), 1-3 at No. 4.
“For the past two matches, we have traveled to two of the toughest venues in the Southeastern Conference and come out with wins,” head coach Per Nilsson said. “I’m extremely proud of my guys and now we have to get ready to take on Texas A&M Friday.”
The Bulldogs will close out their regular season this Friday, April 12, in College Station, Texas, as they battle No. 14 Texas A&M. Following Friday’s 6 p.m. CT match with the Aggies, the Bulldogs will prepare for the SEC Championship in Oxford, Miss., to be held April 17-21.
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No. 17 Gators Blank Bethune-Cookman
GAINESVILLE, Fla.—The Florida men’s tennis beat Bethune-Cookman 7-0 on Wednesday afternoon at Linder Stadium at the Ring Tennis Complex. The Gators improved to 12-9 on the season and sit at 5-5 in Southeastern Conference play with two regular-season matches remaining.
“We played well today,” said head coach Bryan Shelton. “I was happy that our guys came out ready to go. We haven’t had too many mid-week matches and usually those are the difficult ones with school and everything else. They go to class in the morning and then go out to play. Our guys were focused from the very beginning.”
Florida jumped out quickly in doubles, sweeping all three courts. Mike Alford and Luke Johnson shut out Kip Jackson and Leonardo Lima 8-0 on court two and Florent Diep and Gordon Watson clinched the doubles point with an 8-2 win against BCU’s Juan Varon and Moritz Pronath at No. 3 doubles. Stephane Piro and Bob van Overbeek then closed out Santiago Lobelo and Diego Garavito 8-3 on court one.
“I thought we came out in the doubles and played with great energy,” said Coach Shelton. “We played with a purpose and we executed. When you do those things well you’re going to have a good day. We did a great job in the doubles and then followed that up with solid singles play.”
Watson and van Overbeek gave Florida a quick 3-0 lead, finishing their matches in under an hour. Watson won 6-2, 6-2 against Pronath on court five and van Overbeek blanked Lima 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3 singles. Johnson, playing at No. 6 singles, secured the win with a 6-3, 6-1 win against Gilbert Rotich.
Alford, Diep and Piro each won their matches in straight sets to complete the shut out.
The Gators will wrap up the regular season this weekend, hosting No. 8 Kentucky on Friday at 5 p.m. and No. 14 Vanderbilt on Sunday at 1 p.m. Live scoring for all three matches will be available through GatorZone.com.