STARKVILLE, Miss. - On a beautiful Mississippi Sunday afternoon, the No. 13 Mississippi State men's tennis squad (12-6, 2-4 SEC) ended a four-match homestand by dropping a 4-2 decision to No. 10 Kentucky (16-4, 4-1 SEC) at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
State opened up with an early lead after making a furious rally to take the doubles point. UK found an early 8-5 victory from the duo of Grant Roberts and Anthony Rossi against MSU's Romain Bogaerts and Pedro Dumont on court three before State stormed back on courts 1 and 2.
First was impressive performance from the 14th-ranked duo of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp. Down 5-0 in the match at No. 1, the Bulldog tandem battled back, eventually pushing the match to a tiebreaker at 8-8. From there, Angus and Stropp cruised, not giving up a single point in the breaker and defeating the No. 23 Wildcat team of Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai 9-8(0).
The Wildcats would even the score in singles when Roberts defeated MSU's Dumont 6-3, 6-1 on court five. UK would then take a 3-1 lead, as Charles Minc earned a 6-4, 6-1 victory against State's White on court four and Kentucky's Lai defeated Stefan Vinti of MSU 6-1, 6-3 on court six.
State would rest their hopes on courts one, two and three, where some of the more intense matches of the day were in progress. The State freshman Angus defeated UK's Gomez 7-5, 6-2 on court three, bring State to within 3-2. The victory was also Angus' team-leading 14th in dual match play.
All eyes then shifted to the top two spots in the lineup, where UK had taken the first set on both. No. 31 Rossi of Kentucky battled back from down 5-3 to take the first set from MSU's No. 18 Bogaerts on court one in a tiebreaker 7-6(3).
As that tiebreaker ended, MSU's No. 59 Stropp and UK's No. 32 Jomby were entering one of their own, but for the second set, after Jomby had taken the first 6-3. Stropp fought back to claim the second 7-6(4) in a high-energy match.
As court 2 went to its third set, Bogaerts and Rossi were starting the second set on court 1 and Rossi eventually grabbed a break to go up 5-3 and then held serve to defeat Bogaerts 7-6(3), 6-3 to clinch the match for the Wildcats. Stropp and Jomby were tied 4-4 in the third when play was then suspended.
The Bulldogs will now hit the road for a two-match road swing. State will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., Friday, March 22, to face the No. 46 Arkansas Razorbacks (1 p.m. CT) and then to Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, March 24, to face the No. 68 LSU Tigers (1 p.m.). Following the road trip, State will return home to battle in-state rival, No. 4 Ole Miss, on Friday, March 29, 2 p.m. at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
No. 10 Kentucky 4, No. 13 Mississippi State 2
March 17, 2013 - A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre - Starkville, Miss.
1) No. 31 Rossi (UK) def. No. 18 Bogaerts (MSU) 7-6(3), 6-3
2) No. 59 Stropp (MSU) vs. No. 32 Jomby (UK) 3-6, 7-6(4), 4-4(susp.)
3) Angus (MSU) def. Gomez (UK) 7-5, 6-2
4) Charles Minc (UK) def. White (MSU) 6-4, 6-1
5) Roberts (UK) def. Dumont (MSU) 6-3, 6-1
6) Lai (UK) def. Stefan Vinti (MSU) 6-1, 6-3
Order of finish... Doubles (3,1,2)... Singles (5,4,6,3,1)