#25 State Tennis Win SEC West Crown

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Mississippi State's 25th-ranked men's tennis team downed 42nd-ranked Alabama 5-2 Sunday afternoon on the road to continue its great play of late. Coupled with Auburn's Sunday win over Ole Miss, the Bulldogs' victory clinched the 2011 Southeastern Conference Western Division title outright.

With the win, State improved to 12-7 overall and 7-3 in the SEC, two matches ahead of Ole Miss and Auburn in the Western Division after Sunday's competition. It is State's first SEC West crown since the league went to the divisional format in 2002. The Bulldogs' 7-3 league mark is the team's best since the 1998 MSU squad started 8-2 and went on to reach the NCAA semifinals.

On a major roll during conference play, the Bulldogs have now won seven of their last nine contests, with the only losses coming to perennial national powers Florida and Georgia in 4-3 decisions.

With Sunday's setback, the Crimson Tide fell to 9-10, 2-8 in the SEC.

The Bulldogs grabbed the first point of the match, winning at No. 1 and 3 doubles. Bulldogs Louis Cant and Malte Stropp, ranked 84th, led things off with an 8-6 win, holding off a late charge from 76th-ranked Jarryd Botha and Ricky Doverspike of Alabama. MSU's duo of James Chaudry and Zach White then clinched the point for State with an 8-5 win over the Crimson Tide's Daniil Proskura and Trey Walston at No. 3. The teams suspended play on court 2 at that point with MSU leading 7-5 in that affair.

MSU rode the momentum from doubles to take the first set in five of six singles matches and went on to the win from there.

Cant, ranked 77th nationally, gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead with his ninth-consecutive victory, a 6-1, 6-1 decision over Michael Thompson at the No. 5 position. The rookie White followed that with a 6-3, 6-1 triumph at No. 6 over UA's Ian Chadwell to put State up 3-0.

State would get the match clincher at the No. 2 position where 94th-ranked Artem Ilyushin completed a 6-2, 6-4 win over ‘Bama's Proskura.

The final three contests of the afternoon all went to third sets and Alabama would claim two of them.

The Tide got its first point of the day when Doverspike battled back to take a 4-6, 7-6, 1-0 win over MSU's 76th-ranked George Coupland at the top spot. Botha then finished a 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 comeback win over State's Chaudry at No. 3 to make the score 4-2.

MSU gained the final point of the day when the true freshman Stropp rallied to extend his win streak to nine matches with a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Reddy at No. 4.

"We earned another really big win on the road today. ‘Bama fought back in singles and made us really work for the win," MSU head coach Per Nilsson said. "Needless to say, we are very proud of winning the West title outright, which was one of our goals going into the season. Our guys have worked very hard this season and have really taken things to a new level the past few weeks. They deserve this honor.

"Now we have to continue to work hard and prepare for what will definitely be a tough match next weekend against Ole Miss. We need all our fans to come out and support us in our final regular season match on Senior Day."

The Bulldogs will close out the regular season against the rival Rebels next Saturday, April 16. Match time between the Bulldogs and Rebels is slated for 1 p.m. CT at MSU's A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. Admission is free.

#25 Mississippi State 5, #42 ALABAMA 2 April 10, 2011 – Tuscaloosa, Ala.

DOUBLES –#84 Louis Cant/Malte Stropp (MSU) def. #76 Jarryd Botha/Ricky Doverspike (UA) 8-6; George Coupland/Artem Ilyushin (MSU) vs. Vikram Reddy/Michael Thompson (UA) 7-5, susp.; James Chaudry/Zach White (MSU) def. Daniil Proskura/Trey Walston (UA) 8-5. Order of finish: 1,3,2.

SINGLES –Doverspike (UA) def. #76 Coupland (MSU) 4-6, 7-6(5), 1-0(8); #94 Ilyushin (MSU) def. Proskura (UA) 6-2, 6-4; Botha (UA) def. Chaudry (MSU) 2-6, 7-5, 6-1; Stropp (MSU) def. Reddy (UA) 3-6, 6-3, 7-5; #77 Cant (MSU) def. Michael Thompson (UA) 6-1, 6-1; White (MSU) def. Ian Chadwell (UA) 6-3, 6-1. Order of finish: 5,6,2,1,3,4.

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