MSU Tennis Drops Tight One To #9 Georgia, 4-3

STARKVILLE, Miss. –Mississippi State's men's tennis team came very close to registering its second upset of a top 10 team in three days Sunday, but ultimately fell 4-3 to No. 9 Georgia at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre on campus in a match that featured four tiebreakers and three three-set matches.

State, which had upset #4 Tennessee Friday in an impressive 6-1 win, fell to 10-7 overall and 5-3 in the Southeastern Conference. UGA lifted its record to 16-3 and remained the only undefeated team in the league at 8-0.

Georgia got the early lead in the match by taking the doubles point with wins at the No. 1 and 3 positions. State actually won the first court off when George Coupland and Artem Ilyushin posted another upset win, downing 37th-ranked Sadio Doumbia and Ignacio Toboada 8-3 at the No. 2 spot. But UGA rebounded with a close 8-6 win at No. 3 and clinched the point when #11 Javier Garrapiz and Hernus Pieters downed 84th-ranked Bulldogs Louis Cant and Malte Stropp (MSU) 8-2 at No. 1.

In singles, State made a strong charge at Georgia with early breaks of serve on four courts. But the Bulldogs from Athens battled back and took a pair of tiebreakers at the No. 1 and 6 positions that would help swing the match back in their favor. UGA went up 3-0 with straight-set wins at those spots, Igancio Toboada ousting MSU rookie Zach White at No. 6 7-6(6), 6-1 and 14th-ranked Will Spencer besting MSU's 94th-ranked Ilyushin 7-6(2), 6-0 at the top spot.

Even with the big Georgia lead, State was not out of the match at that point and quickly trimmed the lead to 3-1 with a hard-fought 6-4, 7-6(5) victory from the freshman Stropp over Bernstein at No. 4. Stropp for the seventh-straight outing.

The final three matches all went to third sets and the Bulldogs very nearly rallied for the comeback. 77th-ranked Cant completed a win over UGA's Pieters at the No. 5 spot 6-2, 1-6, 6-2, cutting the lead to 3-2 and posting his seventh win in a row as well.

On the two remaining courts (2&3), Georgia took control in the third set by building 5-3 leads late, but State's Coupland and James Chaudry battled right back as each broke serve to even the score at 5-5 on both courts. UGA's 29th-ranked Garrapiz would prove to be the match clincher, breaking Coupland in the final game for a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 triumph at No. 2. MSU's Chaudry then blanked the 54th-ranked Doumbia in a third-set tiebreaker for a 6-0, 2-6, 7-6(0) win.

"It was a great college match," MSU head coach Per Nilsson said. "We did a good job of coming back from losing the doubles and getting into a position to beat a great team like Georgia, who is clearly one the nation's elite. It was obviously a tough loss, but a good weekend by splitting with two top 10 teams. Now we have to get ready for two very tough road matches next weekend."

The Bulldog tennis squad will battle a pair of SEC West foes next weekend, travelling to #18 Auburn Friday, April 8, at 5 p.m. before meeting #43 Alabama Sunday, April 10, at 1 p.m. in Tuscaloosa.

#9 GEORGIA 4, #32 Mississippi State 3 April 3, 2011 – Starkville Miss.

DOUBLES – #11 Javier Garrapiz/Hernus Pieters (UGA) def. #84 Louis Cant/Malte Stropp (MSU) 8-2; George Coupland/Artem Ilyushin (MSU) def. #37 Sadio Doumbia/Ignacio Toboada (UGA) 8-3; Drake Bernstein/Will Spencer (UGA) def. James Chaudry/Zach White (MSU) 8-6. Order of finish: 2,3,1.

SINGLES – #14 Spencer (UGA) def. #94 Ilyushin (MSU) 7-6(2), 6-0; #29 Garrapiz (UGA) def. #76 Coupland (MSU) 6-4, 4-6, 7-5; Chaudry (MSU) def. #54 Doumbia (UGA) 6-0, 2-6, 7-6(0); Stropp (MSU) def. Bernstein (UGA) 6-4, 7-6(5); #77 Cant (MSU) def. Pieters (UGA) 6-3, 1-6, 6-2; Toboada (UGA) def. White (MSU) 7-6(6), 6-1. Order of finish: 6,1,4,5,2,3.

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