LUBBOCK, Texas – These days, it seems like the 10th-ranked Mississippi State men’s tennis squad (5-0) has a love for thrilling finishes. Down 3-0, the Bulldogs rallied to take down the 53rd-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-2) 4-3 Friday at the McLeod Tennis Center in Lubbock, Texas.
Combined with MSU’s exciting victories against No. 26 Harvard and No. 21 Memphis last weekend, the win moves MSU to 5-0 to start the season for the second-straight year and the seventh time in history. The victory also moves State to 4-1 all time against Texas Tech and 1-0 in Lubbock.
State found itself down early, dropping the doubles point to the Red Raiders. TTU picked up a win on court one when the No. 33 duo of Hugo Dojas and Maxime Hinnisdaels defeated MSU’s No. 52 tandem of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp 6-3. The Bulldogs evened the score when Rishab Agarwal and Zach White took down Tech’s Carlos DiLaura and Francisco Zambon 6-3 on court three, bringing the doubles point down to court two.
With the scene shifting to singles, the Red Raiders seemed to be carrying all the momentum against the ITA top-10 Bulldogs. TTU pushed its lead to 3-0 after claiming victories from Jolan Cailleau and Zambon. Cailleau defeated Schmid 6-3, 6-2 on court six, while Zambon took down Agarwal 6-4, 6-5(3) to put the Red Raiders within a point of an upset.
After taking the first sets, Bulldog seniors Stropp, ranked 39th nationally, and White were pushed to a third, while MSU’s No. 63 Lakat was battling in the second to stay alive in the match, putting State on the brink of defeat.
However, the tide turned when Lakat earned a late break and pushed his match at the top spot to a third set.
Quickly following the break, Angus took care of business on court three, defeating Hinnisdaels 6-5(3), 6-4, to bring MSU within two. Lakat followed Angus’ victory, catching fire in the third to put away TTU’s No. 101 Soares 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 on one, cutting the Red Raider lead to one.
As it was last weekend, the spotlight was put on the Maroon and White’s two seniors with the match on the line, as White and Stropp were both locked in third set battles. White used a break to open his final set, riding it all the way to a 6-5(4), 4-6, 6-3 triumph, making the Bulldog comeback nearly complete.
Stropp busted out of the gates in the third, going up a double break 4-0 against Tech’s No. 65 Dojas. However, Dojas fought back to push the match to a tiebreaker, putting the pressure back on the MSU veteran. Despite going back-and-forth to start, Stropp pulled away late in the breaker, taking the match 6-5(6), 3-6, 6-5(5) and giving the Bulldogs the win in dramatic fashion.
“I’m so proud of our guys for fighting and getting this win today against a solid Texas Tech team,” coach Per Nilsson said. “We had our backs against the wall early, the guys didn’t let that distract them and just kept fighting till they came out victorious. Great win for us today.”
The Bulldogs will complete the weekend road trip to Texas Saturday with a matchup against the Rice Owls (2-2), set for 12 p.m. CT.
No. 10 Mississippi State 4, No. 53 Texas Tech 3
January 30, 2014 – McLeod Tennis Center– Lubbock, Texas
1) No. 63 Lakat (MSU) def. No. 101 Soares (TTU) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
2) No. 39 Stropp (MSU) def. No. 65 Dojas (TTU) 6-5(6), 3-6, 6-5(5)
3) Angus (MSU) def. Hinnisdaels (TTU) 6-5(3), 6-4
4) White (MSU) def. Willems (TTU) 6-5(4), 4-6, 6-3
5) Zambon (TTU) def. Rishab Agarwal (MSU) 6-4, 6-5(3)
6) Jolan Cailleau (TTU) def. Schmid (MSU) 6-3, 6-2
Order of finish… Doubles (1,3,2)… Singles (6,5,3,1,4,2)