STARKVILLE, Miss. - With Southeastern Conference play just around the corner, the No. 11 Mississippi State men's tennis squad (8-2) will close out its nonconference slate this weekend against Samford (4-2) and No. 47 Middle Tennessee (7-3) at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
State will face Samford Saturday at 11 a.m. CT and conclude nonconference play against MTSU Sunday at 12 p.m.
Leading the way for the Bulldogs at the top of the lineup is No. 19 Romain Bogaerts and No. 43 Malte Stropp. Bogaerts, one of four MSU freshmen, is 7-2 for the dual match season, with five of those wins at the No. 1 position. Stropp is 8-1 for the season, earning six of those at the No. 2 spot.
Senior James Chaudry comes in with a 5-2 record in dual match play for the 2013 campaign. Chaudry earned his first ranked win of the spring season with a 6-0, 1-6, 6-2 upset of Ole Miss' 40th-ranked William Kallberg at the 2013 ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Seattle, Wash., last weekend.
Perhaps the most impressive player so far for the Bulldogs sits at the No. 4 position. True freshman Jordan Angus sports a 9-0 record for the season, the best start by an MSU freshmen in dual match play since Rene'-Charles Combette started 9-0 in 2000. Angus also earned his first ranked win of the dual match season in Seattle with a 6-1, 6-1 victory against No. 67 Shane Vinsant of Texas A&M.
MSU freshmen Stefan Vinti and Pedro Dumont, along with junior Zach White have regularly rounded out the MSU lineup, with Dumont and White splitting time at the No. 6 position. Vinti is 2-1 on the Bulldogs' home court. Dumont, who is 4-3 for the spring, has also been solid at home with an impressive 4-0 record. White is 2-1 in dual matches overall.
In doubles play, State's 13th-ranked duo of Angus and Stropp sport a 5-3 record for the dual match season, with three of those wins coming against top 45 opponents. The tandem of White and Ethan Wilkinson has held the No. 2 spot for the season, with a 2-5 record. The freshmen team of Bogaerts and Dumont has had an impressive start to the season, with a 5-0 record. The start is the best by an MSU doubles team since Antonio Lastre and Daniel Sanchez started 6-0 in 2009.
Samford comes into Saturday's match after a 5-1 victory against Troy. The visiting Bulldogs are led by Austin Akers, who is 5-0 for the spring.
For the No. 47 Blue Raiders, 98th-ranked Ben Davis will lead the way, holding a 6-2 record at the top spot of MTSU's lineup. David Fox and Christoph Lang have led the Blue Raiders in doubles, with a 3-0 record so far on the season.
"The matches this weekend will be a challenge for us," head coach Per Nilsson said. "I am hoping we can go out and bounce back from last week and get some wins."
State will open up SEC play after this weekend, hitting the road to face No. 21 Auburn and No. 55 Alabama. The Bulldogs will face Auburn Friday, Mar. 1, at 2 p.m. CT, and Alabama Sunday, Mar. 3, at 12 p.m.