STARKVILLE, Miss. - After an impressive showing to start the season, including a thrilling victory to clinch a 4-3 victory against the No. 21 Auburn Tigers in the ITA Kickoff Weekend Sunday, Mississippi State men's tennis freshman Romain Bogaerts was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week Wednesday.
Ranked 25th in the nation, Bogaerts is 4-0 on the season and the first freshman in the Per Nilsson era to start 3-0 at the No. 1 position.
Bogaerts' biggest win came in the championship match of the ITA Kickoff Weekend at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre, where he faced No. 74 Andreas Mies, Auburn's top senior. After taking the first set 7-5, Bogaerts fought off a set point down 5-3 in the second to force a tiebreaker. From there the MSU freshman came back from down 4-1 in the tiebreak, fighting off two more set points and taking the match in thrilling fashion 7-5, 7-6(6). The win sends State to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship (Seattle, Feb. 15-18) for the first time since 1999.
In doubles, the Huppaye, Belgium, native has paired up with fellow freshman Pedro Dumont for two victories so far this season at the No. 3 spot. The duo were a game away from defeating No. 25 LSU's Boris Arias and Olivier Borsos in the first match of the ITA Kickoff Weekend before MSU clinched the doubles point with victories on courts 1 and 2.
Along with the news of Bogaerts' SEC honor Wednesday was the MSU men's tennis squad moving into the top 10 of the ITA National Rankings at the No. 10 spot. The Bulldogs are 4-0 on the season, with three top 30 victories, against No. 29 Texas Tech, No. 25 LSU and No. 21 Auburn.
The latest ranking marks the highest the Bulldogs have been ranked since coming in it at No. 9 in the ITA's May 8, 2012, poll.
"We are extremely proud of Romain's recognition," Nilsson said. "He has ad a great start to his career here at MSU. As far as moving into the top 10, it means we are getting closer to our goal of being number one."
MSU will return to action next Thursday, February 7, when they face 12th-ranked arch rival Ole Miss in the River Hills Cup in Jackson, Miss., at 5 p.m. at River Hills Club.
State then returns to campus on Sunday, February 10, to host a double header against South Alabama and Tennessee Tech.