COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Slipping up in a close tiebreaker in doubles at the No. 2 spot proved to be a crucial point in the 40th-ranked Mississippi State men's tennis team's season opener as the Bulldogs missed out on a near upset bid at 10th-ranked Texas A&M, 4-3.
The doubles point was split with an 8-3 victory by MSU's Louis Cant and Malte Stropp over 32nd-ranked Aggie tandem Alberto Bautista and Colin Hoover at the No. 3 spot, and an 8-3 setback at the No. 1 position by Bulldog duo James Chaudry and George Coupland against Texas A&M's No. 1 nationally ranked team Jeff Dadamo and Austin Krajicek. With the doubles point split all eyes were turned to court No. 2, where State's Artem Ilyushin and Zach White were in a tiebreaker battle with Alexey Grigorov and Junior Ore of Texas A&M, with the Aggies eventually claiming the win, 9-8(4), and later proved to be a vital point needed for the victory.
"We fell behind early at courts one and two in doubles which hurt us," Coach Per Nilsson said. "Artem (Ilyushin) and Zach (White) did a good job of fighting back and really that tiebreaker could have gone either way but unfortunately we didn't come out on top."
In singles the Bulldogs claimed three points at courts three, four and five. At the No. 3 position, Bulldog freshman Stropp was victorious in his first-career dual match and claimed his team-leading ninth victory with a three-set win over Grigorov of Texas A&M, 2-6, 7-5, 1-0(3). MSU's Chaudry was down a set and fought back to claim the second set, 6-1, to force a super tiebreaker in the third set in which he found himself down again, 9-5, but battled back to earn the win over No. 95 nationally ranked Hoover of the Aggies, 13-11. The win was Chaudry's third-straight and the newcomer earned his first win over a ranked opponent and improved to 2-0 in away matches. 60th-ranked Cant of State won his fourth-straight match and the 40th of his career with a straight-set win over Texas A&M's Bautista, 6-3, 7-6(2).
At the No. 1 position, State's Coupland had his three-match win streak snapped with a straight-set defeat to No. 23 Krajicek of the Aggies, 6-2, 6-3. On court two, Ilyushin had his five-match win streak snapped to the Aggies 54th-ranked Dadamo, 6-1, 7-5. Bulldog freshman White dropped an identical-set decision to Niall Angus of Texas A&M, 6-4, 6-4, giving the 10th-ranked Aggies the four points needed to claim the victory.
State's tennis team has a quick turnaround as they will continue to compete in the ITA Kickoff Weekend with a consolation match against the loser of today's match between the 32nd-ranked Arizona Wildcats and No. 44 ranked Miami Hurricanes.
"Whoever we play tomorrow will be a great match," Nilsson said. "We are looking to bounce back from today's tough loss and get our first victory of the year tomorrow."
The match between No. 40 MSU and Arizona or Miami will be served up a noon CT on Sunday and live stats will be made available www.mstateathletics.com.
Track & Field
LEXINGTON , Ky. - When action wrapped at the Rod McCravy, Mississippi State had several things to smile about as several Lady Bulldogs finished the day among the leaders, setting personal records along the way.
"We took a big step forward from the LSU meet," coach Steve Dudley said. "I am happy with where we are and how we competed this weekend."
It was a big day for the Lady Bulldogs, who competed in several events for the first time this season. Sophomore Jody-Ann Muir (55:15) saw action for the first time in the 400-meter dash and came away with a third place finish. Muir was followed across the finish line by teammate Taneisha Baker (55:62), who finished sixth.
The Maroon and White distance runners had a big day as sophomore Haley Greenwell finished third in the 3000m, while sophomore Chloe Phillips picked up a sixth-place finish in the 800m (2:14.74) and a seventh place finish in the mile (4:56.35).
It was also a big day for the 4x400m relay team as they posted a fourth-place finish to cap off competition for the Lady Bulldogs. The quartet of senior Taneisha Baker, sophomore Brittney Covington, sophomore Keisha Wallace and Muir crossed the line with a time of 3:44.71.
The MSU men had an equally big day, as they posted two first-place finishes. Sophomore Tavaris Tate came in first in the 400m dash with a time of 46.35. Following Tate across the line were teammates freshman James Harris (47:07) in third and sophomore Daundre Barnaby (47:31) in fourth. Also topping the leader board was the 4x400m relay team of Tate, Harris, Barnaby, and senior Emmanuel Mayers, who picked up their second first place finish in the event in as many days.
Dudley credited the team's success to their hard work and the fact that they are not afraid to take chances.
"Sometimes athletes do not want to take chances because they are scared of failing or that the coach will get upset. I tell my team that is not going to happen with me," Dudley commented. "I believe that you cannot do anything if you are afraid to put it all out there. You cannot be great if you are not willing to take chances."
After returning from Kentucky , MSU will travel to College Station for the Texas A&M Invitational on Feb. 12th.