TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - On Thursday, the Mississippi State men's tennis team became the first No. 12 seed to win a match in the SEC Championship since the 12-team format was introduced in 1992. On Friday, State took it a step further, advancing to the semifinals with a 4-2 win over the fourth-seeded and 30th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats. The Bulldogs (6-13) avenged their 4-3 loss to UK earlier this season in Lexington and advanced to its first semifinal in the SEC Championship since 1998.
State advances to Saturday's semifinal to face the winner between top seed and top-ranked Georgia (22-0) and eighth-seeded Alabama (15-9), a match which was contested late Friday night indoors following the MSU-UK affair. In the other semifinal matchup on Saturday, second-seeded and 14th-ranked Florida (15-6) will face third-seed and 13th-ranked Mississippi (19-4). Both matches are slated to begin at 2 p.m. at the Alabama Tennis Complex.
The match, which started outside, was forced indoors during doubles play due to severe weather in the Tuscaloosa area. After the match resumed, Kentucky outlasted State on two of the three doubles courts to claim the first point of the match. The first completed was on court #2 where UK's duo of Nate Emge and Bruno Agostinelli defeated State's Philippe Frayssinoux and Pierre Mouillon 8-3. The Bulldog pair of Florent Girod and Josh Irey was second off the courts, taking an 8-6 victory on court #3 over Greg Johnstone and Kenny Hodge. In the deciding match on court #1, Kentucky's Alex Hume and Marcus Sundh defeated the MSU tandem of Ivan Bjelica and Jose-Carlos Pinto to claim the first point of the match for the Wildcats.
Much like in their match against LSU on Thursday, State turned the momentum around once singles play began. MSU's Mouillon evened the team score at 1-1, winning 6-4, 6-4 over UK's 73rd-ranked Agostinelli on the #2 court. Bulldog senior Pinto gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 advantage, downing UK's Emge 6-2, 7-5 on court #3. Moments later, UK's 51st-ranked Hume downed MSU's 80th-ranked Bjelica 6-4, 7-5 to even the score at 2-2.
With the match in a deadlock, three matches remained on the courts to decide the outcome. On court #4, MSU's Frayssinoux lost the first set 6-2 and was down a break in the second set to UK's Sundh. However, Frayssinoux rallied to win the second set in a tiebreaker, sending the match to a third set. In the final set, Frayssinoux found himself down a break once again, but fought back and defeated Sundh 6-4 to give State a 3-2 advantage.
On court #6, MSU freshman Eric Lim rallied from down a break in the first set to overcome Kentucky's Hodge 6-4. Lim broke serve early in the second set and never looked back, winning 6-3, earning his second straight win and the clinching point for the Bulldogs. On court #5, MSU's Girod had rallied from a 6-1, 3-0 deficit, and was leading UK's Rubin 1-6, 6-3, 2-1 when play was suspended after State had clinched the match.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Mississippi State's men's golf team got off to a rough start on the opening day of the 2006 Southeastern Conference Men's Golf Championship at Sea Island Golf Club on Friday. The Bulldogs fired a first-round score of 305 and heads into Saturday's second round in 12th place on the team leaderboard.
Hattiesburg, Miss. native Matt Fast turned in State's low-round of the day, posting a 5-over par 75. His scorecard included 12 pars and one birdie on the par-3 17th. Fast is tied 43rd after one round of competition. Freshman Noah Goldman posted a round of 76, tied for 48th. Carlos Sainz, Jr. and Josh Oller both reported rounds of 77. The MState tandem stands 51st in the individual standings.
Top-ranked Georgia leads the overall team standings thru 18 holes with a 4-under par round of 276. UGA freshman Brian Harman has the clubhouse lead on the individual side at 3-under par. Alabama, Florida Tennessee and LSU round out the top-5 teams on the leaderboard.
Saturday's second round will begin at 8 a.m. ET at the par-70 course. MSU will be paired with Kentucky and Arkansas and will tee off from the 10th hole.