STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team opened up its 2007 campaign Saturday, knocking off UAB 6-1 at the A. J. Pitts Tennis Centre. State jumped on the Blazers early, winning the opening doubles point and followed by winning the first three singles matches to clinch the win.
After winning the doubles point only two times last season, the Bulldogs opened Saturday's match winning on all three doubles courts. State freshmen Edouard Benchetrit and Chris Doerr were the first off the court, as they knocked off UAB's Alex Emery and Adrian Tollstam 8-4 on court #3. State then clinched the first point of the match on court #2, where the 28th-ranked freshman tandem of Artem Kuznetsov and Pjotrs Necajevs defeated Blazers Thomas Weiss and Kruno Despotovski 8-3. On court #1, State's Ivan Bjelica and Philippe Frayssinoux completed the sweep in doubles, knocking off UAB's Johannes Spangenberg and Tim Bauer 8-7(3) in a tiebreaker.
The Bulldog netmen waisted no time in extending their lead when singles began. The Bulldogs won the first three singles matches in straight sets and won two of the last three, which were all decided in the third set. State's 31st-ranked Frayssinoux eased past Blazer Tim Bauer 6-0, 6-1, giving MSU a 2-0 lead. After winning the first set in a tiebreaker, State freshman Kuznetsov breezed in the second set 6-1 to put the Bulldogs up 3-0. The clinching point for State came on court #1 where Bjelica closed out Spangenberg 6-4, 6-4 and moved to 13-6 on the season. On court #4, MSU freshman Necjaves gave State a 5-0 lead after battling back from a set down and a 6-1 deficit in the third-set supertiebreaker to defeat UAB's Kruno Despotovski 5-7, 6-3, 1-0(7). After winning the first set, State freshman Benchetrit fell 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 to UAB's Emery on court #5, giving the Blazers their lone point of the day. MSU sophomore Ryan Farlow gave State its sixth and final point, knocking off UAB's Thomas Petritch 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(7) on court #6.
"Today was a very tough match for us," said MSU head coach Sylvain Guichard. "It was a typical first match and both teams did not play their best tennis. However, we are obviously happy we were able to win and I am proud of our guys for fighting hard and giving great effort today."
Four Bulldog true freshmen earned their first dual-match victories of their careers, going 2-0 in doubles and 2-1 in singles. With the win, State is now 22-1 all-time against UAB dating back to the 1979 season. The win also marks the 14th consecutive win over the Blazers going back to the 1994 season.
The Bulldogs next action comes Feb. 8 when they travel to Jackson, Miss., to take on rival and sixth-ranked Mississippi in the annual River Hills Cup. The match is slated for 5 p.m. at the River Hills Club.