COLUMBIA, S.C. – Sunday provided the 16th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (18-7, 7-4 Southeastern Conference) a chance to rebound from a tough home loss on Friday against No. 15 Florida. MSU did just that, dominating from start to finish for a 4-1 victory at No. 40 South Carolina (12-11, 4-6 SEC) Sunday afternoon at the Carolina Tennis Center.
The win gave the Bulldogs seven conference wins for the year, which eclipses MSU’s total of six from last season, while also moving State a win away from tying for seventh place in the record book for overall season wins.
State used impressive showings from courts one and three in doubles to gain the early 1-0 advantage against the Gamecocks. Perhaps the most impressive came from court one, as MSU’s No. 63 tandem of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp used two holds at love and a break at love to defeat USC’s Andrew Adams and Kyle Koch 8-4. MSU wrapped up doubles play thanks to the team of Rishab Agarwal and Zach White, who were down a break point, battled back and then held to defeat the Gamecocks’ Thiago Pinheiro and Sam Swank 8-6 on court three to clinch the 1-0 lead.
As play shifted to the singles order, the Bulldogs kept their momentum going strong, keeping their foot on the gas for the rest of the match.
Leading the charge was White, who earned his second ranked win of the season, defeating USC’s 88th-ranked Mihov in straight sets 6-4, 6-2 at the No. 2 spot to put MSU up 2-0. The win also moves White to 3-0 when playing at the No. 2 position for his career, with all matches coming this year.
State’s Angus followed in White’s footsteps, playing impressively to grab a straight-set victory of his own, defeating South Carolina’s Cox 7-5, 6-3 on court three.
With courts four and six heading to third sets and USC looking to capture the match at the fifth position, MSU looked to 67th-ranked rookie Lakat to put an end the contest at the top spot as he battled USC’s Adams. After securing the first set easily 6-1, the four-time SEC Freshman of the Week found himself down 15-40 in his service game late in the second set, but fought back to hold and take a 5-4 lead. Lakat then put the pressure on Adams, forcing two break/match points before capitalizing on the third, defeating Adams 6-1, 6-4 to clinch the Bulldog victory.
Before the clincher from Lakat, USC had earned its sole point thanks to a 7-5, 6-4 victory from Koch against MSU’s Schmid on court five. Play on courts four and six were suspended at the clinch. MSU’s Agarwal was leading USC’s Pinheiro 6-2, 4-6, 2-1 at the No. 4 spot, while State’s Robin Haden had just forced a third set on court six against the Gamecocks’ Andrew Schafer and the players were tied 1-1.
“I was really impressed with our the whole team’s performance today,” seventh-year coach Per Nilsson said. “Everyone stepped up and delivered for a big win on the road.”
MSU closes out the regular season next Sunday, April 13, as it plays host to No. 10 Texas A&M (20-5, 9-1 SEC) at 12 p.m. CT for Senior Day and part of Super Bulldog Weekend. For complete event times and ticket information, visit the official 2014 Super Bulldog Weekend web page, which can also be reached by visiting www.HailState.com/sbw.
No. 16 Mississippi State 4, No. 40 South Carolina 1
April 6, 2014 – Carolina Tennis Center – Columbia, S.C.
1. No. 67 Lakat (MSU) def. Adams (USC) 6-1, 6-4
2. White (MSU) def. No. 88 Mihov (USC) 6-4, 6-2
3. Angus (MSU) def. Cox (USC) 7-5, 6-3
4. Agarwal (MSU) vs. Pinheiro (USC) 6-2, 4-6, 2-1(susp.)
5. Koch (USC) def. Schmid (MSU) 7-5, 6-4
6. Robin Haden (MSU) vs. Andrew Schafer (USC) 2-6, 6-2, 1-1(susp.)
Order of finish… Doubles (1,2,3)… Singles (2,3,5,1)