#15 Georgia Tech Holds Off Charge From #21 MSU In NCAA Second Round
ATLANTA, Ga. - In an epic battle to advance to the NCAA "Sweet 16", the 15th-ranked Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech (21-5) held off a charge by #21 Mississippi State, as Tech claimed a 4-1 win in the NCAA second round Saturday afternoon on the Georgia Tech campus.
With the loss, State ended its season at 14-9 overall, the program's best record since 1998. In addition to reaching the NCAA second round, the Bulldogs also claimed the SEC Western Division crown and will likely finish in the top 25 nationally this season. The NCAA appearance was the Bulldogs' 20th all time.
In doubles action Saturday, State's duo of George Coupland and Artem Ilyushin faced a tough opponent at the No. 2 position in Eliot Potvin and Ryan Smith of the Yellow Jackets. Tech took an early break from the Bulldog pair and rode that on to an 8-3 victory.
However, courts 1 and 3 featured tight matches, both staying on serve until late. At the top spot for MSU was the 37th-ranked tandem of Louis Cant and Malte Stropp facing Tech's #14 duo of Kevin King and Juan Spir. Holding serve to 6-5, Tech then took a key break from the Bulldogs to put them in position to serve for the match. The Yellow Jackets did just that as they took the match 8-5 and clinched the doubles point. Play was then suspended on court 3 where the match had just gone 6-5 with Tech holding a one-break advantage.
As the bout turned to singles play, the match would seem to set up for a quick ending as the Yellow Jackets claimed five out of six first sets. But the Bulldogs denied Tech's early push by evening two of those matches with second set wins and things were very close on all other courts.
On court 2, MSU's 60th-ranked Coupland dropped an early first set 6-1 to #82 Spir of Georgia Tech. However, Coupland rallied back to take the second and third frames 6-3, tying the team score at 1-1.
Moments later, State's 61st-ranked Ilyushin, facing Georgia Tech's 14th-ranked Gomez. Gomez took the first 6-2 but Ilyushin gained service breaks twice in the second set. Gomez, however, forced a tiebreaker and took it and the match 6-2, 7-6(3), placing the Yellow Jackets back on top, 2-1.
Needing three of the last four matches, the Bulldogs were still not out of it, but Tech would claim a pair of close second sets to clinch the win.
On court 3, State's 92nd-ranked Stropp was in a fierce battle with Georgia Tech's King. King took the first set from Stropp 6-2, but Stropp would not bow down. After falling behind 4-1, Stropp broke back to 4-3 but King answered by breaking back and then held on for a 6-2, 6-3 victory, extending Tech's lead to 3-1. The loss ended the MSU rookie's 12-match win streak.
With State having built leads on courts 4 and 5, Tech held a one-set advantage on court 6 and O'Brien gained a service break lead over White there as Stropp's match ended. O'Brien would serve out the match for a close 6-4, 6-4 decision to clinch the team win for the Yellow Jackets.
Courts 4 and 5 were suspended at that point, but MSU looked to be well on its way to victories at those positions. Chaudry had come back to lead Potvin 4-6, 6-3, 3-1 at No. 4 and the 86th-ranked Cant was up 7-5, 3-1 on Magin Ortiga at No. 5.
"It was disappointing to end the season today, especially on a match we could have won," coach Per Nilsson said. "The guys did a great job fighting back and we had an opportunity to win. I'm really proud of our guys and what they accomplished this year. They are a great group and will come back strong next year."
Mississippi State's 2011 tennis season may not be completely done. Ilyushin and Coupland are the second and third alternates for the NCAA Singles Championship later this month in Palo Alto, Calif. One or both of them could be inserted into the 64-player draw in the event of withdrawals by other players.
Track and Field
Rochelle Farquharson Crowned SEC Champion
ATHENS, Ga. - Another day of SEC Championship action has wrapped at Spec Towns Track, and for one Lady Bulldog it was quite a big day.
Rochelle Farquharson was crowned SEC Champion in the long jump, as the freshman jumped a personal best 21-3 ¼ to claim victory and 10 points for the Lady Bulldogs.
"As a freshman coming in, it feels great to do it at my first SEC Championships," said Farquharson. "I planned to go in there and do what I had to do. I think I did that."
In preliminary action, Keisha Wallace finished third in the 100m hurdles (13.24), earning a place in the finals on Sunday. Joining Wallace on Sunday will be Jody-Ann Muir, who finished eighth in the 400m dash (53.65) to punch her ticket to the finals.
After the third day of competition the Lady Bulldogs find themselves in 9th place in overall team standings with 19 points.
For the men it was junior Ed Wesela scoring six points for the Maroon and White. The junior threw a personal best 58-8 ½ to finish third.
Freshman James Harris ran a personal best and finished with a third best time of the day in the 400m dash (46.21) to qualify for Sunday's final. Freshman John Valentine had a personal best and finished 7th in the 3000m steeplechase, earning 2 points for the Bulldogs.
The MSU men's team has 11 points in the overall standings and is tied for 7th with Kentucky.
The final day of action will begin at noon on Sunday with the men's triple jump.