STARKVILLE, Miss. – Looking to rebound after a tough start to Southeastern Conference road play last weekend, the 21st-ranked Mississippi State men’s tennis team (12-6, 2-2) closes out its first SEC road trip against No. 15 Kentucky (10-4, 3-0) and No. 23 Vanderbilt (11-3, 2-1) this weekend.
State is scheduled to take on the Wildcats Friday, March 14, at 3 p.m. CT and the Commodores Sunday, March 16, at 12 p.m. CT.
The Bulldogs will be led by the senior-freshman combo of Malte Stropp and Florian Lakat. Stropp, ranked 91st in the latest ITA rankings, has 13 wins for the 2013-14 season. Lakat, who comes in ranked 69th, has 16 wins for the overall season, with 10 of those coming in dual match play.
Holding down the middle of the lineup has been the pair of senior Zach White and sophomore Jordan Angus. Combined, the two have put together 20 wins for the dual match slate, with each earning 10 wins a piece. White, one of coach Per Nilsson’s two returning seniors, earned his 60th career win this past weekend with a straight-sets win against Tennessee’s Brandon Fickey.
Rounding out the MSU order has been a trio of stars for the Bulldogs. Freshman Rishab Agarwal has been solid at the fifth spot in the lineup, putting together 10 wins for spring, with seven of those at the No. 5 spot. Wrapping up the Bulldog order has been junior Tassilo Schmid, who is 6-3 this spring, and freshman Robin Haden, who is 4-2 through dual match play.
Also seeing action this spring has been freshman Egbert Weverink, who claimed victory in his only match in the dual match campaign.
In doubles play, the Bulldogs are led by the 40th-ranked team of Angus and Stropp, who re-entered the rankings after winning six of their last eight matches. Rounding out the MSU doubles lineup are the tandems of Lakat and Schmid (six dual match wins) and Agarwal and White (seven dual match wins).
For the Wildcats, 10th-ranked Tom Jomby and 67th-ranked Beck Pennington lead the way with a combined 18 wins in dual match play. In doubles, No. 26 Jomby and Kevin Lai (8-4 in spring) and No. 73 Nils Ellefson and Ryuji Hirooka (9-2 in spring) top the Wildcats’ order.
In the Vanderbilt corner, the Commodores’ attack is spearheaded by the play of 16th-ranked Gonzales Austin and 102nd-ranked Ryan Lipman. Austin has put together a 9-1 record for the spring, while Lipman is 8-2 in dual match play. The two singles stars will also join forces to form the nation top-ranked doubles tandem, which has earned a 9-1 record throughout the spring (19-3 for the overall season).
After MSU closes out its road swing, it will return home for a three-match home stand. State will face LSU on Friday, March 21, at 2 p.m. CT and No. 63 Arkansas and Nicholls State in a Sunday doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. CT on March 23.