STARKVILLE, Miss. - Despite a furious rally late in the match, the No. 11 Mississippi State men's tennis squad (12-3, 2-1 SEC) fell to No. 10 Tennessee (14-4, 1-1 SEC) 4-2 at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre Friday.
Tennessee jumped out early by taking the doubles point with victories on courts one and three. State No. 24 duo of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp fell to UT's Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese 8-3 on court one. Tennessee's Jarryd Chaplin and Brandon Fickey earned an 8-4 victory against MSU's Romain Bogaerts and Pedro Dumont to clinch the doubles point.
State came into singles needing four victories to clinch the match and looking to take a match without winning doubles for the fourth time this season.
UT would strike first in doubles, as Chaplin defeated MSU's No. 93 James Chaudry 6-4, 6-3 on court three. The Vols would follow with a 7-5, 6-1 victory from Collins against State's Vinti on court six to push their lead to 3-0 for the overall match.
However, the Bulldogs would charge back, as the MSU junior White soundly defeated UT's Jones 6-2, 6-2 to put State on the board. The win moved the Ontario, Canada, native to 3-0 to start SEC play.
The match would come down to courts one, two and three, as MSU would be looking to take all three matches in order to win. UT took the first sets on courts one and three, with State taking the first on No. 2. Both teams would then split to send all three courts to a deciding third set.
On court three, MSU's Angus would drop his first set 6-1, but would come back strong, only dropping four total games in the last two sets to take the match 1-6, 6-1, 6-3. MSU trailed 3-2.
State found themselves on the brink of falling when Stropp was down 5-1 in the final set, with Tennessee's No. 33 Reese serving with triple team match point in his pocket. With the pressure on, Stropp answered the call, battling back to earn a break to stay alive. The Germany native would then storm back with three more games, and Reese's lead would sit at 5-4 with Stropp serving. The two continued to battle, as Stropp fought off three more team match points (a total of six throughout the final set). Reese finally struck back, as he clinched the match for the Volunteers on the seventh match point, ending Stropp's rally 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Play on court one would be suspended, as the thrilling battle between No. 23 Bogaerts and No. 13 Libietis stood with the UT sophomore leading 7-6(6), 4-6, 4-3.
The Maroon and White will return to action this Sunday, as they take on No. 7 Georgia in another major matchup at 1 p.m. CT at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
No. 10 Tennessee 4, No. 11 Mississippi
March 8, 2013 - A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre - Starkville, Miss.
1) No. 13 Libietis vs. No. 23 Bogaerts (MSU) 7-6(6), 4-6, 4-3(susp.)
2) No. 33 Reese (UT) def. No. 59 Stropp (MSU) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
3) Angus (MSU) def. No. 76 Fickey (UT) 1-6, 6-1, 6-3
4) Chaplin (UT) def. No. 93 James Chaudry (MSU) 6-4, 6-3
5) White (MSU) def. Jones (UT) 6-2, 6-2
6) Collins (UT) def. Stefan Vinti (MSU) 7-5, 6-1
Order of finish... Doubles (1,3)... Singles (4,6,5,3,2)