STARKVILLE, Miss. - For the second consecutive weekend, the No. 13 Mississippi State men's tennis squad (12-4, 2-2 SEC) will welcome some of the best the Southeastern Conference has to offer to the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. State will host the No. 23 Vanderbilt Commodores (11-4, 2-1 SEC) Friday at 2 p.m. CT, and the No. 10 Kentucky Wildcats (14-4, 2-1 SEC) Sunday at 1 p.m.
This is the second weekend of a four-match homestand. MSU dropped tough matches to No. 10 Tennessee and No. 7 Georgia last weekend at the Pitts Tennis Centre.
Leading the way for State is one of the nation's top freshmen in Romain Bogaerts, ranked 18th in the nation in the latest ITA poll, his highest career ranking. The freshman from Huppaye, Belgium, is 11-3 on the season and 2-1 in conference play. Bogaerts became the first freshman in MSU history to win SEC Player of the Week honors this season, as he's captured the award twice so far.
Also at the top of the Bulldog lineup is junior Malte Stropp, who has also received the honor of SEC Player of the Week this season. Stropp sports an 11-2 record, while going 1-1 in SEC play. The Dusseldorf, Germany, native has recorded nine of his victories at the No. 2 spot, while also holding a 2-0 record at the Bulldogs' top spot.
The middle of State's lineup features a pair of England natives in freshman Jordan Angus and senior James Chaudry. Angus is 12-2 on the year and 1-2 in conference play, while recording two ranked victories this spring. Chaudry is 7-5 for the dual match season, with a 4-2 record on MSU's home court.
Rounding out the Maroon and White lineup has been a trio of players, including junior Zach White and freshmen Stefan Vinti and Pedro Dumont. White is 5-3 for the spring, while going 3-1 in conference play. Vinti is 4-8 in dual match play, with those victories coming at the No. 4 and No. 5 spots. Dumont is 7-4 and 2-1 in SEC play, while going 6-2 at the No. 6 position. Dumont is also 8-0 for the 2012-13 season in matches that go three sets, with five of those victories coming in the spring.
In doubles, State sports the 14th-ranked duo in Angus and Stropp, who have defeated four ranked squads this spring, including the country's top-ranked duo from Auburn. Following behind is the pair of White and senior Ethan Wilkinson, who are 5-6 for the spring and 1-1 in the SEC. The freshmen tandem of Bogaerts and Dumont complete the MSU lineup, going 6-3 for the dual match season.
Vanderbilt comes in Friday having won six of its last seven matches, most recently falling 5-2 at No. 14 Texas A&M. The Commodores have two ranked singles players in Ryan Lipman (19th) and Gonzales Austin (54th).
Kentucky will visit Starkville after they take on No. 9 Ole Miss Friday in Oxford, Miss. The Wildcats have dropped their last two matches against No. 38 Baylor and NO. 14 Texas A&M before entering this weekend. UK brings two ranked singles players in Anthony Rossi at 31st and Tom Jomby at 32nd and the No. 23 doubles team of Jomby and Kevin Lai.
Following this weekend's home matches, the Bulldogs will hit the road once again in SEC play. State will battle No. 46 Arkansas in Fayetteville Friday, March 22, at 1 p.m., and No. 68 LSU in Baton Rouge Sunday, March 24, at 1 p.m.For more information on Mississippi State men's tennis, follow the Bulldogs on Twitter (www.twitter.com/mstatemt) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/mstatemt).