With her parents in attendance, true freshman Timea Guibe picked up her first career Southeastern Conference victory and the match clincher in Mississippi State's 4-3 upset over No. 42 Tennessee on Sunday.
With the win, the Bulldogs move to 9-5 on the season and 1-3 in SEC play. Tennessee drops to 4-7 overall and 0-3 in the SEC.
A rookie from Noisy le Roi, France, Guibe downed Tennessee's Victoria Olivarez at the No. 4 position, 7-6(4), 6-4, capping an exciting victory for the Bulldogs. Serving up a set and 5-4 in the second, Guibe fended off several break points before finally claiming victory on State's third team match point with her teammates and parents looking on.
Guibe's win came after senior Alexandra Perper rallied from a 3-1, second-set deficit to win 7-6(3), 6-4 at the No. 2 position over UT's Joanna Henderson, tying the match at 3-3. The Bulldogs and Vols got to that point after an intense war all afternoon.
The Bulldogs got off to a hot start in doubles action, as the MSU duo of Perper and Naomi Tran picked up their second win of the weekend on court 1, 8-3 over UT's Eve Repic and Victoria Olivarez. The Bulldogs would clinch the doubles point when Petra Ferancova and Georgiana Patrasc took a hard-fought 8-6 decision at No. 3 over UT's Henderson and Tiffany Tavares. MSU's Rosie Dion and Guibe were also leading 6-4 in their match on court 2 when doubles play was suspended.
The Bulldogs continued their momentum into singles play, fighting back and forth with the Volunteers. Scoring would begin with the 93rd-ranked Patrasc picking up an impressive 6-2, 6-2 triumph over No. 55 Vol Eve Repic at the No. 1 position. State led 2-0.
From there, Tennessee would reel off three straight wins to take a 3-2 lead in the match, as MSU's Dion, Tran and Ferancova all dropped their matches. Dion fell 6-3, 6-2 on court 3 to UT's Laurence Guevremont, Tran lost a tough 7-5, 6-3 battle to Brittany Lindl at No. 5, and Fernacova fell by the same score to Tavares at No. 6.
That would set up the thrilling finish as Perper and Guibe closed out the win for State side-by-side on courts 2 and 4.
"It was an exciting college match," said head coach Daryl Greenan. "We knew it was going to be a battle and we knew we had a shot. We played well in doubles and got the point, and then it came down to 3-3 at Timea's court. She did an outstanding job finishing. She's a freshman, but she doesn't play like it. She's a warrior and I love the way she competes. (This team) is improving each week and we know that they're going to lay it out on the line on gameday."
The Bulldogs will be back in action this Friday, March 14, as they host No. 22 Kentucky (12-4 overall, 2-2 SEC) at 3 p.m. at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. Live stats will be available on hailstate.com.
In the second match of a four-match Southeastern Conference road swing, the 17th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (12-6, 2-2) fell in a heartbreaker to 13th-ranked Tennessee (12-5, 1-2) 4-3 Sunday afternoon on the road.
The Volunteers put the first point on the board in doubles play with wins on courts one and three. MSU's Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp dropped their match on court one to UT's second-ranked duo of Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese 8-5 to start. The Vols clinched the point with an 8-5 win on court three from Andrew Dromsky and Markus Kerner against State's Rishab Agarwal and Zach White 8-5.
Play on court two was suspended, with UT's Jarryd Chaplin and Brandon Fickey leading MSU's Florian Lakat and Tassilo Schmid 6-5.
The Bulldogs roared back in singles play, picking up two straight-set victories to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead. The tying point came on court six, where the Bulldogs' Schmid earned a dominating 6-3, 6-0 win against the Vols' Bartosz Sawicki. State then earned the lead when White downed UT's Fickey in convincing fashion, 6-4, 6-1 on court three.
UT responded to the strong MSU start with straight-set wins at the top two spots. The Vols' No. 32 Libietis defeated MSU's 71st-ranked Stropp 7-5, 6-2 on court one, followed by a 7-6(1), 6-0 victory from UT's No. 21 Reese against State's No. 63 Lakat at the two spot to put UT up 3-2.
State leveled the score with a 6-1, 7-6(4) triumph on court five from the freshman Agarwal against UT's Dromsky, putting the match on court four, where MSU's Angus forced a deciding third set after taking the second 6-3. However, an early break for UT's Chaplin decided the match, as Angus dropped his match 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to give Tennessee the overall victory.
The Bulldogs continue their SEC road trip as they head to Lexington, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn., next weekend. State will face No. 22 Kentucky on Friday, March 14, at 1 p.m. CT, followed by a Sunday, March 16, showdown at No. 18 Vanderbilt at 12 p.m. CT.
A year removed from a seven-stroke victory at the Tiger Invitational, Mississippi State heads to the Yellowhammer State on March 10-11 hoping for déjà vu at the Grand National Golf Course.
The Bulldogs turned in a 9-over-par, 889 to run away with the Tiger Invitational crown last season, beating out five other ranked squads on their way to the top.
Joining MSU on Monday will be host-club Auburn, Charleston Southern, Charlotte, Drexel, Jacksonville State, Kennesaw State, Memphis, Samford, South Alabama, St. John's, Temple, Troy, VCU and Western Carolina.
"We are looking forward to coming back to Auburn to defend our title," Bulldog head coach Clay Homan said. "We are beginning the home stretch of the season, so it's a big week for us to move in the right direction and position ourselves for postseason. Last year, we really started to hit our stride about this time, so we know what we have to do."
After the Tiger Invitational, Homan's squad went on to win two more tournaments as MSU closed out the regular season with a 35-1 record.
One Bulldog who will relish a return to Grand National will be defending tournament-medalist champion Chad Ramey. The 3-under-par 213 from Ramey not only won him the Tiger crown, but also an SEC Player of the Week honor.
Joining Ramey in Opelika will be seniors Joe Sakulpolphaisan and Barrett Edens, as well as sophomore Ben Wood and freshman Jackson Dick. Freshman Ben Follett-Smith will also be making the trip, competing as an individual.
Sakulpolphaisan claimed his fourth Top 25 of the season last time out, after a tie for 21st at the Bayou City Collegiate Championship. The Thailand native sank his seventh eagle of the season in Houston, tying him for the most in the NCAA.
Edens, Wood and Follett-Smith will all be making their first spring appearance in Opelika.