Men's Tennis Team to Open Season Friday

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team will open its 2006 schedule Friday, hosting UAB at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre in a match slated to begin at 2 p.m. The Bulldogs, who will be contending for their 16th consecutive NCAA berth in 2006, are currently ranked 24th in the FILA ITA Poll after moving up one spot last week.

State returns six letterwinners from last year's squad, which went 12-10 overall and 6-5 in the rugged Southeastern Conference. MSU is led by junior Ivan Bjelica who is currently ranked 74th nationally in singles. Seniors Florent Girod and Jose-Carlos Pinto along with sophomores Philippe Frayssinoux and Pierre Mouillon, are all returning starters for the Bulldogs this season. Sophomore Josh Irey joins newcomers Ryan Farlow and Eric Lim to round out the roster for the 2006 squad.

The Bulldogs are guided by fifth-year head coach Sylvain Guichard, who has led MSU to NCAA bids in each of his first four seasons at the helm. In 2005, Guichard led the Bulldogs to a top-25 finish and their first winning record in the SEC since 2000. The Bulldogs have won 20 of the 21 total meetings against UAB and have won 12 straight in the series.

"We are excited about beginning another season," Guichard, who was named 2005 SEC Coach of the Year said. "We feel that with the guys we have coming back from last season and the addition of our newcomers, we can build on our success from last season and have another solid season."

Following Friday's matchup, MSU will travel to Jackson, Miss., to battle rival Mississippi on Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. in the ninth- annual River Hills Cup. MSU will then return home on Feb. 17 to host South Alabama at 2 p.m.

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