OXFORD, Miss. – In a match that lasted till 2:22 a.m. CT, the No. 9 Mississippi State men’s tennis squad (16-9, 6-6 SEC) fell in a heartbreaking loss to the No. 11 Kentucky Wildcats (20-10, 6-6 SEC) 4-2 in the second round of the 2013 SEC Championship.
Doubles proved to be a crucial point in the match, as the Wildcats just edged out the Bulldogs with wins on courts one and three. UK struck first, as the duo of Juan Pablo Murra and Anthony Rossi defeated MSU’s Romain Bogaerts and Zach White 8-5. However, State evened the score when the tandem of Pedro Dumont and Ethan Wilkinson downed the UK team of Ryuji Hirooka and Beck Pennington 8-5.
The doubles point came down to court one, where the No. 10 MSU duo of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp went toe-to-toe with the No. 9 UK team of Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai. Down 8-7, the Bulldog team fought off four match points to force a tiebreaker at the top spot, but the Wildcats would prevail, taking the match and the doubles point 9-8(4).
In singles, State would need four victories to take the match and advance to quarterfinal play. UK upped their lead to 2-0 when No. 21 Jomby defeated a tough 55th-ranked Malte Stropp on court two 6-3, 6-4. MSU then answered back when senior James Chaudry defeated UK’s Charles Minc 6-1, 6-3 on court three to bring State within one.
At the top spot, UK’s No. 17 Rossi downed MSU’s No. 12 Bogaerts 6-3, 7-5 tp bring the Wildcats within one of victory. State once again answered, as freshman Angus defeated Kentucky’s Lai 6-3, 6-2 at the No. 4 position.
The deciding match came at the No. 5 spot, where MSU’s White battled UK’s Pennington. In a back and forth first set, White earned the first break to go up 6-5, but Pennington broke back to force a tiebreaker. The two continued to battle in the tiebreak, but Pennington fought off White to take the first set 7-6(7). Pennington rode the momentum of the first set win to take the match 7-6(7), 6-0, clinching the match for the Wildcats.
Play at the No. 6 spot was suspended, with MSU’s Dumont leading UK’s Murra 6-1, 5-3.
State will now await word on the 2013 NCAA Championships, which begin May 10-12 with first and second round action. The Maroon and White expect to earn their 22nd NCAA bid all-time and are in position to be selected as one of the 16 hosts for first and second round play for the second year in a row. The selections will be announced April 30.
No. 11 Kentucky 4, No. 9 Mississippi State 2
April 18, 2013 – Gillom Sports Center – Oxford, Miss.
2013 SEC Championship – Second Round
1) No. 17 Rossi (UK) def. No. 20 Bogaerts (MSU) 6-3, 7-5
2) No. 21 Jomby (UK) def. No. 55 Stropp (MSU) 6-3, 6-4
3) James Chaudry (MSU) def. Charles Minc (UK) 6-1, 6-3
4) Angus (MSU) def. Lai (UK) 6-3, 6-2
5) Pennington (UK) def. White (MSU) 7-6(7), 6-0
6) Dumont (MSU) vs. Murra (UK) 6-1, 5-3(susp.)
Order of finish… Doubles (3,2,1)… Singles (2,3,1,4,5)