STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's 12th-ranked men's tennis squad posted a 7-0 shutout win over visiting Louisiana-Lafayette Thursday at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre, its second blanking of ULL in as many seasons."> STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's 12th-ranked men's tennis squad posted a 7-0 shutout win over visiting Louisiana-Lafayette Thursday at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre, its second blanking of ULL in as many seasons.">

#12 MSU NETMEN BLANK RAGIN' CAJUNS 7-0

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/01players/tennis/2002/combette.jpg" align="left" width="111" height="143"> STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's 12th-ranked men's tennis squad posted a 7-0 shutout win over visiting Louisiana-Lafayette Thursday at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre, its second blanking of ULL in as many seasons.

With the win, the Bulldogs posted their fifth-straight victory while improving to 6-2 overall. ULL fell to 4-3 and lost its third in a row. State now leads the series with the Ragin' Cajuns 16-10, 14-2 in Starkville. The win also made head coach Sylvain Guichard the first MSU rookie head coach since 1972 to register six or more wins in his first eight matches at the helm (Alan Jones was 9-0 that season).

The Bulldogs would get an early edge in doubles Thursday when the 41st-ranked duo of Romain Ambert and Rene-Charles Combette took just 31 minutes to complete an 8-1 win over Ragin' Cajuns Marc Castellan and Jason Pieters at the No. 1 position (Ambert and Combette have now won 11 of their last 12 doubles matches and are 9-0 in dual matches together all-time). But State would get a fight from ULL for the first point of the day.

After State had taken 7-3 leads at both the No. 2 and 3 spots, the Ragin' Cajuns battled back to 7-7 at No. 2 and 7-6 at No. 3. MSU's duo of Max Fomine and Aymeric Henou then held on for an 8-6 win over ULL's team of Anthony Blache and Jakub Ilowski at No. 3 to give MSU the doubles point. ULL would claim a 9-7 win at the No. 2 spot.

MSU took a 2-0 lead in the match when Combette, ranked 59th in the country in singles, downed Ragin' Cajun Jason Pieters 6-2, 6-0 at the No. 2 position in less than an hour of play. It was Combette's eighth win in 10 matches, and his sixth in a row. The Bulldogs would gain a 3-0 advantage with a 6-1, 6-1 triumph from Henou over ULL's Castellan at No. 6, upping the true freshman's record to 7-2 this year.

The Bulldogs would get the decisive point in the match from Ambert. The 15th-ranked sophomore notched a 6-2, 6-2 win over Ilowski at the top spot for his 11th victory in his last 12 outings (now 7-0 in dual matches).

State would complete the shutout with wins at the final three positions. Luiz Carvalho posted MSU's fifth point, ousting Blache 6-2, 6-2 at the No. 4 position for his fourth-straight win. Fomine then held off Ragin' Cajun Michael Tarkowski 6-4, 6-4 at No. 5 for a 6-0 Bulldog lead and his fourth consecutive victory.

Junior Jerome Le Belicard then pulled out a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 triumph to complete scoring, besting ULL's Johann van der Westhuizen at the No. 3 spot for his fifth win in a row.

"I was disappointed that we let up in doubles like we did," Guichard said, "but we responded well in singles and got the job done. Now we have to prepare for a very difficult match against a very, very good Middle Tennessee team next week."

The Bulldogs will host the Blue Raiders, who are ranked 25th nationally in the latest poll, next Wednesday, February 27th. Match time for that contest, which will conclude MSU's current six-match homestand, is set for 2 p.m.


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