No. 25 Baylor Edges No. 9 State In NCAA Second Round, 4-3
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's men's tennis squad (20-7) fell in NCAA Second Round action to No. 25 Baylor (19-11) 4-3 Saturday in an intense marathon match. The epic contest was played both outdoors at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre and indoors at McCarthy Gym, and lasted a total of six hours and 42 minutes, excluding a two-and-half-hour rain delay.
The loss concluded MSU's stellar season as a team as the Bulldogs claimed their second straight SEC Western Division crown and posted their best record and highest national ranking since 1998.
"This was a tough loss today, especially for our seniors," head coach Per Nilsson said. "I was really proud of Zach's (White) efforts and this was a great season. I am thankful for the seniors that put their time and effort into this program and we are going to truly miss them."
The day started outdoors with doubles at an altered match time hoping to avoid inclement weather and the match did just that for roughly two-and-a-half hours.
As doubles swung in the balance during a back-and-forth battle on all courts, Baylor would battle to take the decision from MSU in a big tiebreaker on court 3.
Competing for the Bulldogs in the No. 2 spot was the 47th-ranked duo of Louis Cant and Malte Stropp. With both parties holding serve, the No. 45 Bear tandem of Kike Grangeiro and Roberto Maytin had a 7-6 advantage and broke the Bulldogs to take an 8-6 decision.
The clinching point then came from the third spot where the MSU pair of Zach White and Ethan Wilkinson had battled to an 8-8 tiebreaker with Julian Bley and Marko Krickovic of Baylor. However, the Bears would hold their ground and take a 9-8(1) win and clinch the doubles point for BU.
In singles, all but four first sets had been decided before play was suspended due to rain around 12:30 p.m. With a forecasted afternoon full of rain, tournament officials moved the match indoors to McCarthy Gymnasium with play resuming at 3 p.m.
With only two courts competing at a time, the No. 1 and 2 positions were the first to resume.
In the top spot for the Bulldogs was 13th-ranked Ilyushin where he was facing No. 17 Zsiga of BU. Battling back and forth in the first, Zsiga would outlast Ilyushin with a tight 7-5 first set triumph. However, Ilyushin would fight back as he gained a 3-0 advantage to begin the second. Unfortunately, Zsiga would allow nothing more as he downed Ilyushin 7-5, 6-3 to give Baylor a 2-0 advantage.
However, 88th-ranked James Chaudry of MSU would close the gap on the Bears as he plowed through No. 86 Maytin 6-3, 6-2 on court 2 to close the gap to 2-1.
Again, Baylor would extend their lead as the No. 3 and 4 positions began play. The Bears' Krickovic downed MSU's 74th-ranked Stropp 6-2, 6-4 on court 3 to put Baylor ahead by two points with three courts remaining.
In the fifth spot for the Bulldogs was 50th-ranked Cant facing Baylor's Grangeiro. After taking a 5-0 advantage in the first, Cant would allow four straight games before sealing the first set 6-4 (all outdoors). One inside, the second proved to be much easier as Cant took a 6-4, 6-2 win to close the gap to 3-2.
MSU would then even the match on court 4 where No. 56 Coupland was facing Galeano of Baylor. Taking a quick 6-2 decision in the first, Coupland would drop the second in the same fashion. With the both sides holding serve to 2-2, Coupland was able to break his Baylor foe and hold serve to take a 4-2 advantage. Holding serve the remainder of the match, Coupland earned a hard-fought 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 triumph and tied the match at 3-3 overall.
In what proved to be the deciding match of the day, MSU's Zach White was in an all-out battle in the No. 6 position with Bley of Baylor. Taking the court following the conclusion of the first five matches, the two would fight through a first set to a 6-6 tiebreaker, which was resumed at the 3-3 mark indoors. Unfortunately, Bley would take a 7-6(5) first set. As both sides held serve, the second would be decided in another intense tiebreaker. As the players went back and forth, White fought off an incredible six match points. But his battle would ultimately fall short as Bley would take the second set and match 7-6(5), 7-6(10).
Mississippi State's 2012 men's tennis season is not completely finished. MSU's seniors - Cant, Coupland and Ilyushin - will compete in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships in Athens, Ga., beginning May 23.
No. 25 Baylor 4, No. 9 Mississippi State 3
5/12/12 - A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre/McCarthy Gymnasium - Starkville, Miss.
1) #25 George Coupland/Artem Ilyushin (MSU) vs. Diego Galeano/Mate Zsiga (BU) 7-6 (susp.)
2) #45 Kike Grangeiro/Roberto Maytin (BU) def. #47 Louis Cant/Malte Stropp (MSU) 8-6
3) Julian Bley/Marko Krickovic (BU) def. Zach White/Ethan Wilkinson (MSU) 9-8(1)
1) #17 Zsiga (BU) def. #13 Ilyushin (MSU) 7-5, 6-3
2) #88 James Chaudry (MSU) def. #86 Maytin (BU) 6-3, 6-2
3) Krickovic (BU) def. #74 Stropp (MSU) 6-2, 6-4
4) #56 Coupland (MSU) def. Galeano (BU) 6-2, 2-6, 6-4
5) #50 Cant (MSU) def. Grangeiro (BU) 6-4, 6-2
6) Bley (BU) def. White (MSU) 7-6(5), 7-6(10)
Order of finish... Doubles (2,3)... Singles (1,2,3,5,4,6)