GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In perhaps its most thrilling match of 2013 to date, the No. 13 Mississippi State men’s tennis squad (15-7, 5-5 SEC) stormed back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the No. 17 Florida Gators (11-9, 5-5 SEC) Sunday at UF's Ring Tennis Complex.
The victory marked the first time in MSU recorded history that the Bulldogs have beaten the Gators consecutive times in Gainesville (State also won 4-3 at UF last season). With the win, State also swept weekend play, taking down two top 20 opponents after defeating No. 20 South Carolina 4-2 in Starkville Friday. The Bulldogs have now won three of their last four matches with only two more left in the regular season.
State jumped out early against the Gators Sunday by grabbing the doubles point with tough wins on courts one and two. The Gators struck first with an 8-5 victory from the duo of Florent Diep and Gordon Watson against MSU’s Pedro Dumont and Ethan Wilkinson at No. 3. However, State’s 15th-ranked team of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp responded with an 8-6 victory against UF’s Bob van Overbeek and Stephane Piro on court one to level the field.
On court two, both teams battled closely for the majority of the match, but the State tandem of Romain Bogaerts and Zach White pulled away in the end, defeating Florida’s Mike Alford and Luke Johnson 8-5 to clinch the doubles point for the Bulldogs.
The Gators would not be deterred, however, as the home team started off hot in singles by grabbing the first set on four of six courts.
UF’s Mike Alford even the score by downing MSU’s Angus 6-1, 7-5 on court four. Following suit was No. 117 van Overbeek, who fought off State senior James Chaudry 6-3, 6-4 at No. 3, giving the Gators a 2-1 lead. The Gators’ 102nd-ranked Diep brought his team within one point of clinching when he earned a 6-4, 6-1 victory against MSU’s No. 50 Stropp at the No. 2 spot.
With it seeming that Florida was on its way to victory at that point, the Bulldogs turned the tables and mounted a very impressive comeback.
State’s White was near defeat, down a set and 4-1 in the second on court five to UF’s Johnson, until he stormed back to force a tiebreaker to stay in the match. Again, White found himself down, as he trailed Johnson 5-2 in the tiebreaker. But once again, White roared back, winning five-straight points to take the tiebreaker and the second set 7-6(5). That key comeback forced a final set and kept the overall match going for the other two courts in play as well.
Shortly after White’s second-set rally, MSU's 20th-ranked Bogaerts downed UF’s No. 125 Piro 6-3, 6-4, trimming the Gator lead to 3-2.
As play headed to a third set on court six between MSU’s Dumont and UF’s Watson, White began to cruise through the final set at No. 5, finally shutting out Johnson in the third for a remarkable 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-0 triumph to tie the team match at 3-3.
As White was wrapping up his win, Dumont broke to open the third set on court 6 and held that advantage to the very end, defeating UF’s Watson 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to clinch the match for the Maroon and White. With the win, Dumont improved to 9-0 for the 2012-13 season in three-set matches.
“Florida outplayed us on a couple of courts today, but we hung in there to get the win,” Bulldog head coach Per Nilsson said. “Great job by Zach (White) to turn his match around and very strong of Pedro (Dumont) to finish it off.”
The Bulldogs now have just two matches remaining in the regular season before heading to Oxford, Miss., for the 2013 SEC Championship (April 17-21). State will travel to Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, April 10, to face the No. 32 LSU Tigers at 3 p.m. CT. MSU will then close out the regular season in College Station, Texas, on Friday, April 12, as they battle No. 12 Texas A&M at 6 p.m. CT.
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No. 13 Mississippi State 4, No. 17 Florida 3
April 7, 2013 – Ring Tennis Complex – Gainesville, Fla.
1) No. 20 Bogaerts (MSU) def. No. 125 Piro (UF) 6-3, 6-4
2) No. 102 Diep (UF) def. No. 50 Stropp (MSU) 6-4, 6-1
3) No. 117 van Overbeek (UF) def. James Chaudry (MSU) 6-3, 6-4
4) Alford (UF) def. Angus (MSU) 6-1, 7-5
5) White (MSU) def. Johnson (UF) 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-0
6) Dumont (MSU) def. Watson (UF) 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
Order of finish… Doubles (3,1,2)… Singles (4,3,2,1,5,6)