AUBURN, Ala. - Battling chilly temperatures at the Yarbrough Tennis Complex, the No. 10 Mississippi State men's tennis squad (11-2, 1-0 SEC) defeated No. 32 Auburn (8-3, 0-1 SEC) in an exciting 4-3 match to open Southeastern Conference play Friday afternoon. The Bulldogs are looking to claim a third consecutive SEC Western Division title in 2013.
With the win, State is now 24-20 all time against the Tigers, winning the last five meetings. State also claimed a 4-3 victory against Auburn earlier in the year during the ITA Kickoff Weekend at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
In what would prove to be the deciding factor of the match, MSU took the doubles point from the Tigers. State's Zach White and Ethan Wilkinson defeated Auburn's Dennis Lengsfeld and Lucas Lopasso 8-3 on court two to give an advantage to MSU. However, Auburn answered back with a 9-7 victory from Lukas Ollert and Joseph Van Dooren against MSU's Romain Bogaerts and Pedro Dumont on court three, bringing the doubles point down to court one.
MSU's No. 24 Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp battled back and forth with Auburn's duo of Daniel Cochrane and Andreas Mies, the top-ranked tandem in the nation. The Tiger duo would go up 3-1 early, but Angus and Stropp would fight back into the match, tying it at 4-4. The two sides would trade games, eventually ending up in a tiebreaker to decide the point. The two sides battled to a 4-4 tie in the tiebreaker, until Angus and Stropp took hold of the match to win 9-8(4), giving the Bulldogs the doubles point for the seventh time this season.
In singles, State took the first sets on courts one, two and five to set up for an overall victory. At the top spot, No. 23 Bogaerts defeated No. 107 Mies 6-3, 6-4 for the MSU rookie's second victory against the senior this spring. Auburn would answer back quickly, as Ollert defeated No. 93 James Chaudry 6-2, 6-4 on court three.
In one of the more crucial matches for State, MSU's White earned a 6-3, 6-3 victory against Lopasso on court five to give MSU a 3-1 lead.
Auburn would fire back with a 6-4, 7-5 victory from Van Dooren against MSU's Dumont on court six, and a 6-3, 1-6, 6-0 win from Lengsfeld on court five, handing MSU's Angus his first loss of the dual match season.
With the match tied at 3-3, it all came down to a showdown on court two between No. 59 Stropp of MSU and Auburn's Dan Cochrane. After taking the first 6-4, Stropp found himself down 3-0 in the second set. From there, Stropp roared back to take the match 6-4, 6-4 and clinch the victory for State.
"Our top doubles came up with a huge win today and Zach White pretty much won the match for us on court five," head coach Per Nilsson said. "Great for our team to have Zach back healthy and to get this win on the road."
The Maroon and White will return to action Sunday, March 3, as they take on the 31st-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa to close out the two-match road swing. Match start time is set for 12 p.m. CT.
Mississippi State 4, No. 32 Auburn 3
March 1, 2013 - Yarbrough Tennis Center - Auburn, Ala.
1) No. 23 Bogaerts (MSU) def. No. 107 Mies (AU) 6-3, 6-4
2) No. 59 Stropp (MSU) def. Cochrane (AU) 6-4, 6-4
3) Ollert (AU) def. No. 93 James Chaudry (MSU) 6-2, 6-4
4) Lengsfeld (AU) def. Angus (MSU) 6-3, 1-6, 6-0
5) White (MSU) def. Lopasso (AU) 6-3, 6-3
6) Van Dooren (AU) def. Dumont (MSU) 6-4, 7-5
Order of finish... Doubles (2,3,1)... Singles (1,3,5,6,4,2)