MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Behind the excellent play of its two seniors, the 11th-ranked Mississippi State men’s tennis Bulldogs (10-4) closed out the 2014 Blue Gray National Tennis Classic with a 4-2 victory against the No. 60 Princeton Tigers (6-4) Sunday afternoon.
With the win, State moves to 2-0 all time against the Tigers, with both coming on neutral courts.
The Bulldogs gained the upper hand to start the match, earning victories at the top and the bottom of the lineup to take the doubles point. MSU’s duo of Rishab Agarwal and Zach White downed PU’s Thomas Colautti and Joshua Yablon 6-2 on court three to start off play. The Tigers leveled the playing field with a 6-2 win from Augie Bloom and Dan Davies against State’s Florian Lakat and Tassilo Schmid on court two.
With the crucial point down to the top spot, MSU’s top squad of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp, ranked 55th nationally, defeated the Tigers’ Alexander Day and Zack McCourt 6-4, giving State the 1-0 lead.
Play then shifted to singles, where the Maroon and White increased the lead to 3-0 thanks to impressive play from seniors Stropp, ranked 49th, and White. Stropp took down PU’s Day 6-2, 6-3 on court two, controlling the match from start to finish. White followed up on court four, defeating the Tigers’ Yablon 6-2, 6-4 in dominating fashion.
The Tigers answered back to State’s three-point lead with victories on courts three and one, cutting MSU’s lead to 3-2. PU’s Colautti defeated the Bulldogs’ No. 115 Angus 6-3, 6-5(5) on court three and the Tigers’ McCourt took down State’s No. 52 Florian Lakat 6-5(6), 6-3 to pull within one in the overall match.
All eyes were then on the final two courts, where two MSU freshmen - Agarwal on court five and Robin Haden on court six - were tasked with putting the match away fro the Bulldogs. After taking the first set 6-3, Haden battled to force a second-set tiebreaker and entered a back-and-forth battle with PU’s Davies, while Agarwal entered a third set with the Tigers’ Bloom after dropping the second.
Agarwal crushed any momentum Bloom had entering the third, dominating to take a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory, giving State the overall victory. Play on court six was suspended at the clinch, with the second-set tiebreaker tied at 11-11.
The Bulldogs will now return home to kick off Southeastern Conference play, as they open the 2014 SEC slate against the 36th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide and the 28th-ranked Auburn Tigers at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. MSU opens the weekend Friday, Feb. 28, at 2 p.m. CT against the Crimson Tide and closes against the Tigers on Sunday, March 2, at 1 p.m. CT.
For more information on Mississippi State men’s tennis and updates throughout the 2014 Blue Gary National Tennis Classic, fans can follow the Bulldogs on Twitter (@HailStateMT), Facebook (HailStateMT) and Instagram (HailStateMT).
No. 11 Mississippi State 4, No. 60 Princeton 2
February 23, 2014 – Lagoon Park – Montgomery, Ala.
1) McCourt (PU) def. No. 52 Lakat (MSU) 6-5(6), 6-3
2) No. 49 Stropp (MSU) def. Day (PU) 6-2, 6-3
3) Colautti (PU) def. No. 115 Angus (MSU) 6-3, 6-5(5)
4) White (MSU) def. Yablon (PU) 6-2, 6-4
5) Agarwal (MSU) def. Bloom (PU) 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
6) Robin Haden (MSU) vs. Davies (PU) 6-3, 5-5(susp.)
Order of finish… Doubles (3,2,1)… Singles (2,4,3,1,5)