Looking to rebound after a tough start to Southeastern Conference road play last weekend, the 21st-ranked Mississippi State men's tennis team (12-6, 2-2) closes out its first SEC road trip against No. 15 Kentucky (10-4, 3-0) and No. 23 Vanderbilt (11-3, 2-1) this weekend.
State is scheduled to take on the Wildcats Friday, March 14, at 1 p.m. CT and the Commodores Sunday, March 16, at 12 p.m. CT.
The Bulldogs will be led by the senior-freshman combo of Malte Stropp and Florian Lakat. Stropp, ranked 91st in the latest ITA rankings, has 13 wins for the 2013-14 season. Lakat, who comes in ranked 69th, has 16 wins for the overall season, with 10 of those coming in dual match play.
Holding down the middle of the lineup has been the pair of senior Zach White and sophomore Jordan Angus. Combined, the two have put together 20 wins for the dual match slate, with each earning 10 wins a piece. White, one of coach Per Nilsson's two returning seniors, earned his 60th career win this past weekend with a straight-sets win against Tennessee's Brandon Fickey.
Rounding out the MSU order has been a trio of stars for the Bulldogs. Freshman Rishab Agarwal has been solid at the fifth spot in the lineup, putting together 10 wins for spring, with seven of those at the No. 5 spot. Wrapping up the Bulldog order has been junior Tassilo Schmid, who is 6-3 this spring, and freshman Robin Haden, who is 4-2 through dual match play.
Also seeing action this spring has been freshman Egbert Weverink, who claimed victory in his only match in the dual match campaign.
In doubles play, the Bulldogs are led by the 40th-ranked team of Angus and Stropp, who re-entered the rankings after winning six of their last eight matches. Rounding out the MSU doubles lineup are the tandems of Lakat and Schmid (six dual match wins) and Agarwal and White (seven dual match wins).
For the Wildcats, 10th-ranked Tom Jomby and 67th-ranked Beck Pennington lead the way with a combined 18 wins in dual match play. In doubles, No. 26 Jomby and Kevin Lai (8-4 in spring) and No. 73 Nils Ellefson and Ryuji Hirooka (9-2 in spring) top the Wildcats' order.
In the Vanderbilt corner, the Commodores' attack is spearheaded by the play of 16th-ranked Gonzales Austin and 102nd-ranked Ryan Lipman. Austin has put together a 9-1 record for the spring, while Lipman is 8-2 in dual match play. The two singles stars will also join forces to form the nation top-ranked doubles tandem, which has earned a 9-1 record throughout the spring (19-3 for the overall season).
After MSU closes out its road swing, it will return home for a three-match home stand. State will face LSU on Friday, March 21, at 2 p.m. CT and No. 63 Arkansas and Nicholls State in a Sunday doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. CT on March 23.
After earning an SEC victory last Sunday over Tennessee, the No. 61 Mississippi State women's tennis team will go for its second straight conference win Friday afternoon, as they host No. 24 Kentucky at 3 p.m. at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
This will be the 40th meeting all-time between both teams. Kentucky enters the match with a 13-3 overall record, 3-0 in SEC action. The Wildcats' most recent victory came against Missouri this past Sunday.
Mississippi State is led by No. 61 Georgiana Patrasc, who earned her second dual match victory over a ranked opponent on Sunday, defeating No. 55 Eve Repic from Tennessee. The doubles tandem of Alexandra Perper and Naomi Tran are off to a 2-0 start in SEC play and have entered the latest ITA rankings at No. 40. After Perper set the table with a big win at No. 2, freshman Timea Guibe came up big to clinch State's win over UT on Sunday.
UK is led by 54th-ranked Nadia Ravita, who's off to an 8-1 start to the dual match season. Kentucky is led in doubles by CeCe Witten, who is ranked at No. 56 with Caitlin McGraw and at No. 74 with Kelsey Dieters.
"They're a good, solid team from top to bottom," said head coach Daryl Greenan. "We're going to have to play our best tennis this weekend. Clinching the doubles point would be big for us, but overall, we just need to keep doing the things we do well and do them even better this weekend."
Following Friday's match, State will close out its current four-match homestand Sunday, hosting No. 11 Vanderbilt at 1 p.m.
Following impressive showings in the Curtis Cup practice sessions in February, Ally McDonald has been selected to represent the United States in the 2014 Curtis Cup Match on June 6-8 at St. Louis (Mo.) Country Club.
"After the practice session, I knew it was out of my control and knew I had to put my trust in God," All-American McDonald said. "When I got the call, I was elated. God continues to bless me, and I am so thankful. I can not wait to be a part of this amazing team and experience representing this country."
McDonald was one of eight players selected to represent Team USA, including Emma Talley from the University of Alabama and previous teammate Ashlan Ramsey from Clemson. Ramsey and McDonald teamed up to help the U.S. claim gold at the Spirit International Amateur Championships in November of last year.
"This is a massive historic honor for Ally, the Mississippi State women's golf program and the state of Mississippi," fourth-year head coach Ginger Brown-Lemm said. "She has been the flagship leader of our program's ascent into the top echelon of women's collegiate golf. She will represent the USA as a fierce competitor with class."
The illustrious Curtis Cup Match is one of the top amateur events that pairs two amateur female teams, one from the United States and one from Great Britain and Ireland. Team USA leads the overall series, 27-7-3, but will be looking to bounce back from defeat in 2012.
McDonald and the Bulldogs will be back in action on April 4-6 in the Liz Murphey Invitational in Athens, Ga., at the University of Georgia Golf Course.
Mississippi State assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Aqua Franklin and former volleyball standout Aimee York-Strickland stood among some of the top names in the SEC last weekend as part of the league's 2014 legends class that was honored during the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament in Duluth, Ga.
Franklin was selected for the honor following a stellar playing career at Texas A&M and the WNBA. York-Strickland (1989-92) earned All-SEC, GTE Academic All-America and SEC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors while setting the school's season and single-game kills records. She finished her career in the Bulldogs' top five in career attempts, digs, block solos and block assists.
Track and Field
After a record-setting regular season, five Bulldogs will represent Mississippi State track and field at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., on March 14-15.
"We have a great bunch of athletes, and the number of national qualifications we have is a direct reflection of that talent," MSU coach Steve Dudley said. "I am confident in their ability, and I am looking forward to seeing them compete."
Junior Erica Bougard, the 2014 Southeastern Conference pentathlon champion, enters the meet with a nation-leading score of 4,458. Bougard won the event at last year's NCAA Indoors, setting the previous school record of 4,399. The Byhalia, Miss., native is also the No. 6 seed in the women's long jump.
Joining her, senior Rochelle Farquharson enters the competition as the No. 5 seed in the long jump. Farquharson was recently crowned the women's SEC long jump champion with a leap of 21-00.75, good for third on the MSU all-time indoor performance list.
Also seeing action this weekend, senior Marcus Jackson will compete in the high jump. The Carrollton, Miss., native ranks second nationally in the event (7-05.25) and was the runner-up at the 2013 Championships.
"My goal is to become a national champion this year," Jackson said. "Coming into this meet, I have my mind set on jumping to the best of my ability and getting that No. 1 spot on the podium. Being here is one of the greatest experiences that I could have, and since this is my last NCAA Indoors, I want to get the most out of being here."
Junior Brandon McBride and senior Jason Harper will also make the trip to New Mexico, competing in the 800-meter run and triple jump, respectively. McBride enters the meet as the No. 4 seed (1:47.51), while Harper enters as the No. 8 seed (52-07.25).
All except for Farquharson are making their second-straight appearance at the event. As a junior, Bougard has now qualified for NCAA Indoors every year since arriving on campus. Additionally, this will Mark Jackson's third-consecutive showing in his four years at MSU.
The 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships are slated to begin on Friday at 10 a.m. MST. Fans can follow all the action this weekend through ESPN3's live stream, as well as live results on www.flashresults.com. ESPN3 will stream the meet live on March 14 starting at 6:55 p.m. CT and March 15 starting at 7:50 p.m. CT. A 90-minute broadcast of the Championships will air on Saturday, March 22 at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
Mississippi State wraps up its spring-break trip to Georgia with a three-game set at the University of Georgia this weekend. MSU is 21-5, good for the second-best best 26-game start in program history. Game one is set for a 5 p.m. CT first pitch Friday while Saturday's contest begins and 1 p.m. and Sunday's at noon.
HailState.com will offer a free live audio stream of all three weekend contests. Anthony Craven will call each of the games. GeorgiaDogs.com will offer a video stream of the Friday and Saturday matchups.
Sunday's game will be televised live on Fox Sports Networks. Bob Rathbun will handle the play-by-play while Cheri Kempf will be the color commentator.
UGA holds a 24-23 advantage in the all-time series. After winning 12 of the first 13 meetings between the two, Mississippi State is 7-8 in the last 15 contests. MSU has gone 10-11 in Athens. The teams did not meet during the 2013 campaign.
Two years ago in Starkville, Mississippi State won the opener 5-3. Current senior Heidi Shape went two-for-three, scored two runs and drove in another while current volunteer assistant coach Jessica Cooley added two runs scored and a hit. Stephanie Becker earned the win, not allowing an earned run. She fanned 10 in the complete-game performance. The second game was a 2-0 Georgia win as Erin Arevalo scattered seven hits and struck out nine. Brittany Bell and Ka'ili Smith each had two hits for MSU. Georgia took the series with a 5-0 Sunday victory. Arevalo picked up the win again, limiting Mississippi State to four hits and fanning nine. Current senior Jessica Offutt went two-for-two to lead the MSU offense. Niaja Griffin drove in two runs for Georgia and Tess Sito scored two.
Current Mississippi State senior Alison Owen and junior Julia Echols both began their careers at the University of Georgia before transferring to MSU. A total of six Mississippi State student-athletes are from the Peach State with Owen, Echols, seniors Logan Foulks, Sam Lenahan and Shape and freshman Mackenzie Toler.
After the series, MSU heads to Memphis for a Tuesday matchup that starts at 6 p.m. CT.
On the heels of a third-place finish at the Tiger Invitational, the Mississippi State men's golf club seeks another Top-5 performance at the Seminole Intercollegiate, held on March 14-16.
The three-day, three-round event pits the Bulldogs against 12 other clubs from the par-72 7,172-yard Southwood Golf Course.
"We come to the Seminole about every year, and we know that we have to post some low scores to be in contention here," Bulldog head coach Clay Homan said. "This course rewards good wedge play and being solid around the greens."
Last season, the Bulldogs (18-under-par 846) finished runner up to host-Florida State.
The senior trio of Chad Ramey, Joe Sakulpolphaisan and Barrett Edens will lead MSU into Tallahassee on Friday, the card will be rounded out by sophomore Ben Wood and freshman Ben Follett-Smith. Fellow freshman Jackson Dick will be competing as an individual this weekend.
After turning in one of the best performances of his career (9-under-par 207), Ramey enters the Seminole Intercollegiate seeking his fourth Top-10 card of the year. In his four-year career at MSU, Ramey has 15 Top-10's to his credit.
Another Bulldog who is coming into Florida on a hot streak is Florence, Ala., native Wood. The sophomore has finished with at least a Top 25 in all five of his appearances this season, tying with Ramey for the most on the team.
The Bulldogs will tee off from Southwood at 9:15 a.m. CT, alongside Penn State and Mercer.