STARKVILLE, Miss. - Poised to make another run at a third consecutive Southeastern Conference Western Division crown, the Mississippi State's 11th-ranked men's tennis squad will open the 2013 spring campaign in Houston, Texas, Sunday at 10 a.m. CT against No. 29 Texas Tech.
In his sixth year at the helm, coach Per Nilsson presents a new-look roster for the 2013 campaign, with four freshmen joining the fold at State.
"The beginning of a new year is always exciting and we are looking forward to getting into competition," Nilsson said. "We have some tough matches to start with, but that is why our players chose Mississippi State."
Nilsson's 2012 squad put together one of the program's best finishes in history, claiming its second-consecutive SEC West title and earning a final rank of 11th, the team's highest since being ranked 4th in 1998.
All eight Bulldogs will be making the trip to Houston for the season opener, with two seniors, two juniors and four freshmen making up the Maroon and White's roster.
James Chaudry and Ethan Wilkinson assume the role of senior leaders for the 2013 squad. No. 81 Malte Stropp and fellow junior Zach White will also be expected to take on major leadership roles for the Bulldogs.
In State's freshmen class, No. 25 Romain Bogaerts leads the way after an impressive fall campaign that saw him reach the finals of the USTA/ITA Southern Regional Championship and the quarterfinals of USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships.
Freshmen Jordan Angus, Pedro Dumont and Stefan Vinti will also compete for the Bulldogs in the opening weekend. Angus is teamed with Stropp for the 28th-ranked doubles tandem in the nation, while Vinti pairs up with Chaudry for the No. 42 duo in the nation.
Following Sunday's action, the Bulldogs will complete their Houston road trip, facing 55th-ranked host Rice Monday at Noon CT.
The Bulldogs will open their 2013 home slate Jan. 26-27 hosting the ITA Kickoff Weekend. State will welcome Auburn, LSU and Indiana - all ranked in the top 25 presently - to the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre, with State's first match against No. 24 LSU set to start at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday, the 26th.