ATHENS, Ga. - In their first SEC road test this spring, Mississippi State's 12th-ranked men's tennis squad (11-4, 2-1 SEC) dropped a tough 4-3 decision to the No. 6 Bulldogs of Georgia (12-1, 3-0 SEC) on Friday.
However, Mississippi State would battle back to take the next two matches in the No. 1 and 3 positions. In the top spot for MSU was the 23rd-ranked tandem of Louis Cant and Malte Stropp who ousted Georgia's pair of Ignacio Toboada and Hernus Pieters 8-4.
Clinching the doubles point for State was the duo of Zach White and Ethan Wilkinson. Keeping the advantage through most of the match, MSU would down UGA's pair of Will Spencer and KU Singh to take the match 8-4 and the doubles point for State.
Down 1-0 headed to singles action, Georgia would storm back and take the first four matches complete to clinch the team win.
On court 4 for Georgia was 43rd-ranked Toboada who downed MSU's No. 37 Cant 6-2, 6-2 to even the match for UGA. Quickly following was 11th-ranked Doumbia as he ousted State's No. 75 Stropp 6-2, 6-0 in the third position.
Battling in the No. 6 position was MSU's Antonio Lastre. After taking a quick 6-0 first set, Georgia's Pasha would down Lastre to take the second set and match 6-0, 6-3, extending UGA's lead to 3-1.
The match-clincher would come from court 2 where MSU's James Chaudry faced Georgia's 35th-ranked Singh. Taking a the first set 6-2, Singh ousted Chaudry 6-2, 6-3 to clinch the match 4-1 for Georgia.
The remaining courts would go to Mississippi State as two seniors battled their way to impressive victories over ranked foes.
MSU's 41st-ranked Coupland was in a "Dog" fight in the fifth spot where he took a nailbiting 7-6(4) decision in the first set from Georgia's 47th-ranked Pieters. However, Coupland would take an easier second set and match 7-6(4), 6-3.
In the top spot for State was the 27th-ranked Ilyushin where he faced his sixth top-35 opponent in eight matches. Taking on Georgia's third-ranked Spencer, Ilyushin battled to take the first set 6-4 but Spencer would not go away. Down 5-3 in the second, Spencer would battle back to tie the match 5-5. But Ilyushin would prove too much as he took the second set and match 6-4, 7-5 in a notable upset to give a final score of 4-3 in favor of Georgia. Ilyushin has now beaten five of his six top 35 foes this season.
MSU now makes a quick turnaround as the Bulldogs travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to face the 19th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers on Sunday at 12 p.m. CT at the Goodfriend Tennis Centre.
No. 6 Georgia 4, No. 12 Mississippi State 3
3/9/12 - Dan Magill Tennis Complex - Athens, Georgia
2) Nathan Pasha/Sadio Doumbia (UGA) def. George Coupland/Artem Ilyushin (MSU) 8-5
1) #27 Ilyushin (MSU) def. #3 Spencer (UGA) 6-4, 7-5
2) #35 Singh (UGA) def. James Chaudry (MSU) 6-2, 6-3
3) #11 Doumbia (UGA) def. #75 Stropp (MSU) 6-2, 6-0
4) #43 Toboada (UGA) def. #37 Cant (MSU) 6-2, 6-2
5) #41 Coupland (MSU) def. #47 Pieters (UGA) 7-6(4), 6-3
6) Pasha (UGA) def. Antonio Lastre (MSU) 6-0, 6-3
Order of finish... Doubles (2,1,3)... Singles (4,3,6,2,5,1)