STARKVILLE, Miss. – It had been 12 years since the Mississippi State men’s tennis program has reached the Round of 16 in the NCAA Team Championship. Saturday, the 10th-ranked Bulldogs (18-9) punched their ticket for a return to the Round of 16, downing the No. 27 Harvard Crimson (19-6) 4-1 at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
State will now face No. 6 Tennessee on Thursday, May 16, at 12 p.m. CT at the University of Illinois’ Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex/Tennis Center in Urbana, Ill. With Saturday’s win, the Bulldogs advance to the Round of 16 for the 11th time in school history and the third time since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1999.
“Tough match, but it was really fun as well and I’m just proud of the guys,” head coach Per Nilsson said. “We’re really excited to move on to the Round of 16 for the first time since 2001 and I really feel like we can do some special things from here on out.”
Harvard gained the early edge on the Bulldogs, capturing the doubles point with victories on courts one and three. The Bulldog duo of Pedro Dumont and Ethan Wilkinson downed Harvard’s Nicky Hu and Andy Nguyen 8-3 to start doubles play. However, HU’s Kelvin Lam and Alex Steinroeder upended MSU’s Romain Bogaerts and Zach White to even the score. The Crimson tandem of Casey MacMaster and Denis Nguyen defeated MSU’s No. 13 duo of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp to clinch the doubles point for HU.
As doubles play concluded, light rain began to move into the area, but only for a short time. After a brief delay to allow the courts to dry, players took the court for singles play, but more rain moved into the area after just 10 minutes of play to suspend the action for a much longer time.
After an hour and 22-minute delay, play resumed and found the Bulldogs hitting on all cylinders, as they took the first set on all six courts.
State leveled the score at 1-1 when the freshman Dumont defeated Harvard’s Nicholas Mahlangu 6-3, 6-3 on court six.
Following suit was senior leader James Chaudry, who went up a double break in second set on court three, eventually taking the win 6-4, 6-2 from Harvard’s Andy Nguyen to give the Bulldogs the lead at 2-1.
State’s junior Stropp, ranked 57th in the nation, then put the Maroon and White one away from victory, as he closed out the Crimson’s Shaun Chaudhuri 6-2, 6-4 on court two.
The match-clincher then came on court four, as MSU’s freshman Angus battled with HU’s Steinroeder. After cruising in the first set, Angus was forced to a third when he dropped the second 6-1. Steinroeder jumped out early in the third with a break to open, but Angus broke back and then cruised from there, defeating Steinroeder 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 to send MSU to the Round of 16.
“Everybody played their part today, it wasn’t just me,” Angus said. “But, to be able to clinch the match, was unreal.”
Play was then suspended on the remaining two courts. MSU’s sixth-ranked Bogaerts led Harvard’s Denis Nguyen 6-2, 4-6, 1-0 on court one. After MSU’s White had taken the first set on court five 6-4, Harvard’s Hu took the second 7-5 as play concluded.
For more information on Mississippi State men’s tennis, follow the Bulldogs on Twitter (www.twitter.com/mstatemt) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/mstatemt).
Full details on the 2013 NCAA Championship finals at Illinois can be found at http://www.fightingillini.com/ncaatennis2013/.
No. 10 Mississippi State 4, No. 27 Harvard 1
May 11, 2013 – A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre – Starkville, Miss.
2013 NCAA Team Championship – Second Round
1) Casey MacMaster/Denis Nguyen (HU) def. No. 13 Jordan Angus/Malte Stropp (MSU) 8-6
2) Pedro Dumont/Ethan Wilkinson (MSU) def. Nicky Hu/Andy Nguyen (HU) 8-3
3) Kelvin Lam/Alex Steinroeder (HU) def. Romain Bogaerts/Zach White (MSU) 8-5
1) No. 6 Bogaerts (MSU) vs. D. Nguyen (HU) 6-2, 4-6, 1-0(susp.)
2) No. 57 Stropp (MSU) def. Shaun Chaudhuri (HU) 6-2, 6-4
3) James Chaudry (MSU) def. A. Nguyen (HU) 6-4, 6-2
4) Angus (MSU) def. Steinroeder (HU) 6-2, 1-6, 6-3
5) White (MSU) vs. Hu (HU) 6-4, 5-7(susp.)
6) Dumont (MSU) def. Nicholas Mahlangu (HU) 6-3, 6-3
Order of finish… Doubles (2,3,1)… Singles (6,3,2,4)