STARKVILLE, Miss. – After weeks of practice in the sweltering heat of Mississippi, the Mississippi State men’s tennis squad will finally get to showcase their skills this weekend when they open the 2013-14 season in Nashville, Tenn., at the Vanderbilt-hosted SEC Invitational.
The tournament, consisting of singles and doubles participants from 13 Southeastern Conference schools, begins Thursday, Sept. 19, with first and second round action in singles and doubles, and runs until Sunday, Sept. 22. The singles draw consists of seven rounds to decide a champion, while doubles will have six rounds to determine a winner.
Leading the way for the Bulldogs is senior Malte Stropp, a 9-16 seed, ranked 40th in the nation by the ITA. The All-SEC star from Dusseldorf, Germany, is one of 20 singles players to receive a first-round bye and will face Kentucky’s Beck Pennington, who received a first-round bye as well.
Sophomore Jordan Angus, who last season clinched MSU’s first trip to the NCAA Round of 16 since 2001, received his first career ITA singles ranking of 113th this fall. He will face Vanderbilt’s Jeff Offerdahl in first round action.
In doubles, Angus and Stropp will pair together for the first time since their appearance in last year’s NCAA Doubles Championship tournament. The sixth-ranked and second-seeded duo will face off against Florida’s No. 60 team of Florent Diep and Michael Alford in the second round.
State’s trio of newcomers will see their first experience in the Maroon and White at the SEC Invitational. Freshmen Florian Lakat and Robin Haden will open up their collegiate careers in singles play, as Lakat opens against Kentucky sophomore Kevin Lai, while Haden faces off against Florida’s Alford.
Junior college transfer Tassilo Schmid begins his MSU career paired with Lakat in doubles play, as the tandem earned a first-round bye and will face Ole Miss’ William Kallberg and Stefan Lindmark. Haden will also compete in doubles action, pairing up with South Carolina’s Ben Barnette to face Alabama’s Saxon Buehning and Sean Donohue in the opening round.
“We’re really excited to get to Nashville and compete in the SEC Invitational,” seventh-year head coach Per Nilsson said. “Our guys will have the chance to play some of the top players in the nation, which is great experience and a good way to start off our season.”
For more information on Mississippi State men’s tennis and updates throughout the SEC Invitational, fans can follow the Bulldogs on Twitter (@HailStateMT), Facebook (HailStateMT) and Instagram (HailStateMT). Mississippi State athletics can also be found on FanCred by going to http://www.fancred.com/go/hailstate/.