UT claimed the first point of the match by sweeping doubles play with 9-8(5), 8-5 and 8-5 scores at the three doubles positions and would ride that momentum to the win in singles.
The Vols went up 2-0 when 16th-ranked Mario Toledo gained a point at the No. 2 singles spot when State's 75th-ranked Rene-Charles Combette retired after dropping the first set 6-4. Combette had suffered an ankle injury earlier in the set and tried to continue but could not.
Tennessee's Mark Dietrich provided a 3-0 lead with a 6-1, 7-6(2) triumph over MSU's Jerome Le Belicard at No. 4. Clinching the match for the Vols was Simon Rea, who was a 6-3, 6-2 victor over Bulldog Aymeric Henou at No. 5.
State would gain its first point of the day at the No. 1 position, where 10th-ranked Bulldog Romain Ambert continued his outstanding play this year with a 6-2, 7-5 upset of UT's eighth-ranked Peter Handoyo. The win was Ambert's 17th in 19 outings and improved his dual match mark to 13-1 this year. It was only Handoyo's second loss of the year (15-2).
MSU claimed its only other point of the match when sophomore Luiz Carvalho registered his fifth straight win with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 comeback and upset over 102nd-ranked Vol Adam Carey at No. 3.
UT's Wade Orr bested State's Max Fomine 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 at No. 6 to complete scoring on the day.
"This was a tough loss because it was really closer than the score indicated," MSU head coach Sylvain Guichard said. "Rene not being able to continue in singles was big because he had a chance to win his match. But it was not the deciding factor either...there were other points that we could have won that we did not. Now we have to regroup and prepare for a very big challenge against the top team in the nation Sunday."
The Bulldog netters will continue their current three-match homestand Sunday, hosting No. 1-ranked and defending national champion Georgia at 1 p.m at MSU's A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. State will conclude the homestand Tuesday at 2 p.m. with a makeup match versus 33rd-ranked Middle Tennessee.