LEXINGTON, Ky. - Mississippi State's men's tennis team, which had lost its first four Southeastern Conference matches in very close fashion, has now won its last two in a row in very similar style. The most recent came Sunday, as the 42nd-ranked Bulldogs rallied from a 3-0 deficit to upset #4 Kentucky 4-3 on the road, claiming the last three matches in three sets for the victory"> LEXINGTON, Ky. - Mississippi State's men's tennis team, which had lost its first four Southeastern Conference matches in very close fashion, has now won its last two in a row in very similar style. The most recent came Sunday, as the 42nd-ranked Bulldogs rallied from a 3-0 deficit to upset #4 Kentucky 4-3 on the road, claiming the last three matches in three sets for the victory">

#42 MSU netters upset #4 Kentucky in Lexington

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/01players/tennis/2002/combette.jpg" align="left" width="111" height="143"> LEXINGTON, Ky. - Mississippi State's men's tennis team, which had lost its first four Southeastern Conference matches in very close fashion, has now won its last two in a row in very similar style. The most recent came Sunday, as the 42nd-ranked Bulldogs rallied from a 3-0 deficit to upset #4 Kentucky 4-3 on the road, claiming the last three matches in three sets for the victory

With the win, State improved to 8-6 overall, 2-4 in SEC competition. Kentucky fell to 13-5, 4-2. The triumph also marked State's first in Lexington since 1997 and only its fifth win there ever.

Kentucky gained the first point of the match with identical 8-4 wins at the No. 2 and 3 doubles positions. State's 18th-ranked duo of Romain Ambert and Rene-Charles Combette would salvage the third match with a 9-8(8) victory over 47th-ranked Wildcats Evan Austin and Karim Benmansour at No. 1.

UK gained a 2-0 lead in the match with a 6-3, 6-0 win from 94th-ranked Gustav Pousette, who downed MSU's Jerome Le Belicard at the No. 4 position. The Wildcats went up 3-0 with a 6-3, 6-2 victory from Rahim Esmail over Bulldog Max Fomine at No. 6. Then the Bulldog comeback began.

State would earn its first point of the match when Ambert, ranked 10th nationally, posted a solid 7-5, 6-3 upset of fifth-ranked Wildcat Jesse Witten in a battle of top 10 players at the No. 1 spot. That moved the sophomore's record to 12-1 in dual matches this season and he has now won 16 of his last 18 contests this spring.

The Bulldogs trimmed the lead to 3-2 when true freshman Aymeric Henou registered the first win of his career over a ranked opponent, coming back to upset 86th-ranked Wildcat Johan Grunditz 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 at No. 5. The win improved Henou's dual match record to 10-3 on the year.

MSU would tie the contest with another hard-fought, three-setter at the No. 3 spot, where Luiz Carvalho held off a stiff challenge from UK's Austin, coming back from a 2-0 deficit in the third set to win 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-4. It was the sophomore Bulldog's fourth consecutive win.

That left court No. 2 still out to decide the match. It would be there that Combette, State's 75th-ranked team captain, would overcome a one-set deficit to notch a 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-3 marathon win over UK's 67th-ranked Benmansour to give State the team victory. Combette, who won for the 10th time in 12 outings, was down 5-3 in the second set before rallying for the win.

"I cannot express how great this feels," MSU head coach Sylvain Guichard said. "We have won our last two matches exactly how we lost the first four...very close in very intense matches. I think our guys are beginning to realize how important fighting until the last point is won can be when the match is close.

"And as I said going into this match, the SEC is so close this year that anyone can win on any day. We proved that today with a great win against a very, very talented team, and we did it by fighting for every point and never giving up. We will enjoy this one for a little while, but then must quickly focus on three very important matches coming up at home."

The Bulldog netters return home to host their next three contests, all against top 30 teams at MSU's A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. State will welcome 13th-ranked Tennessee this Friday, March 29th, at 2 p.m. before a battle with third-ranked Georgia this Sunday, March 31st, at 1 p.m. MSU will then have a makeup match with 29th-ranked Middle Tennessee next Tuesday, April 2, at 2 p.m. as part of Super Bulldog Week activities.


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