HOUSTON, Texas – Finding themselves down 3-1 in the match, the ninth-ranked Mississippi State men’s tennis Bulldogs (8-1) mounted an impressive rally, only to fall short to No. 11 California (6-0) in the first round of the 2014 ITA National Team Indoor Championship. The Golden Bears escaped with a 4-3 victory Friday night at the Galleria Tennis and Athletic Club, handing State its first setback of 2014.
MSU, which still holds one of the most impressive starts in program history, will now face No. 16 Notre Dame (7-2) Saturday at 6 p.m. CT. It will mark the seventh meeting in history between the two programs and the first since 2009, with the Irish holding a 5-1 advantage.
MSU started off on the right foot Friday, taking the doubles point for the fourth match in a row. State gained the early advantage with a dominating 6-1 victory on court one from the 55th-ranked duo of Jordan Angus and Malte Strop against Cal’s Ben McLachlan and Andre Goransson. The Golden Bears leveled the playing field with a 6-2 victory from Gregory Bayane and Chase Melton against MSU’s Florian Lakat and Tassilo Schmid on court two. State’s duo of Rishab Agarwal and Zach White clinched the point, fending off Cal’s Filip Bergevi and Campbell Johnson 6-5(5) at the No. 3 position.
Down 1-0, the Golden Bears came out swinging in singles play, capturing straight-set triumphs on courts four, three and two. No. 118 Goransson downed State’s White 6-2, 6-2 at No. 4, with Cal’s Bergevi following suit with a 6-2, 6-4 win against No. 115 Angus on court three. Cal extended its lead to 3-1 with a 6-4, 6-3 victory from No. 68 Johnson against No. 49 Stropp on court two.
With their backs against the wall, the Bulldogs mounted a thrilling comeback to tie the match at 3-3, starting on court one. No. 52 Lakat, who seemed down for the count after dropping his first set 6-0, roared back into the match, defeating Cal’s No. 62 McLachlan 0-6, 6-5(4), 6-3 to pull State within one. MSU’s Schmid notched the tying point on court six, downing the Golden Bears’ Mads Engsted 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.
Play then came down to court five, where the MSU rookie Agarwal and Cal’s Bayane split the first two sets. Despite enormous heart and effort, State’s freshman fell 5-6(6), 6-2, 6-3 to Bayane, advancing Cal to the quarterfinals.
No. 11 California 4, No. 9 Mississippi State 3
February 14, 2014 – Galleria Tennis and Athletic Club – Houston, Texas
1) No. 52 Jordan Angus/Malte Stropp (MSU) def. Ben McLachlan/Andre Goransson (Cal) 6-1
2) Gregory Bayane/Chase Melton (Cal) def. Florian Lakat/Tassilo Schmid (MSU) 6-2
3) Rishab Agarwal/Zach White (MSU) def. Filip Bergevi/Campbell Johnson (Cal) 6-5(5)
1) No. 52 Lakat (MSU) def. #62 Ben McLachlan (Cal) 0-6, 6-5(4), 6-3
2) No. 68 Johnson (Cal) def. No. 49 Stropp (MSU) 6-4, 6-3
3) Bergevi (Cal) def. No. 115 Angus (MSU) 6-2, 6-4
4) No. 118 Goransson (Cal) def. White (MSU) 6-2, 6-2
5) Bayane (Cal) def. Agarwal (MSU) 5-6(6), 6-2, 6-3
6) Schmid (MSU) def. Mads Engsted (Cal) 6-3, 1-6, 6-4
Order of finish… Doubles (1,2,3)… Singles (4,3,2,1,6,5)