NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Closing out a rigorous four-match Southeastern Conference road swing, the 21st-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (13-7, 3-3 SEC) defeated No. 23 Vanderbilt (11-5, 2-3) 4-3 in a thriller in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday afternoonm rallying from down 3-1 for the victory.
With the win, State improves its all-time record against the Commodores to 36-12, with a 15-8 road record. The Bulldogs have now won three of their last four meetings against Vandy.
The doubles point proved to be crucial for the Bulldogs, who snagged it with a win on court two and a tiebreaker victory on court three. Vandy struck first with a tight 8-6 win at the top spot from the nation's No. 1-ranked team of Gonzales Austin and Ryan Lipman, who edged MSU’s No. 40 duo of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp. State leveled the field with an 8-6 victory of its own, as Florian Lakat and Tassilo Schmid defeated VU’s Anton Kovrigin and Ryan Smith on court two.
The Commodores responded with a strong start in singles, taking four first sets and grabbing straight-set wins at the top three spots for a 3-1 advantage. VU’s Kris Yee defeated MSU’s White 6-1, 6-1 at the No. 3 position to even the score. Vandy took the lead with a 6-2, 6-3 victory from No. 16 Austin against State’s No. 91 Stropp at No. 1 and then got a 6-4, 7-6(6) win from No. 102 Lipman against MSU’s 69th-ranked Lakat on No. 2.
Facing defeat with the Commodores a point away from clinching, State mounted a comeback that erased the VU lead. After dropping the first set, MSU’s Angus ignited the rally, defeating Vandy’s Kovrigin 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 on court four. The match then came down to courts five and six, with MSU’s Agarwal battling in a three-setter and Schmid looking for a straight-set win. Almost simultaneously, the two MSU newcomers completed the Bulldogs’ comeback, with Agarwal downing VU’s Jeffrey Offerdahl 7-6(6), 1-6, 7-5 at No. 5 and Schmid defeating VU’s Smith 7-5, 6-2 on court 6 to wrap the match in Maroon and White.
“That was a great win on the road to close out this four-match stretch,” coach Per Nilsson said. “Also, very strong of Rishab (Agarwal) to take that very crucial match.”
The Bulldogs will now return home to the friendly confines of the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre, where they will host three matches next weekend. State will battle the LSU Tigers on Friday, March 21, at 2 p.m. CT and close out the weekend with a Sunday doubleheader against No. 63 Arkansas at 1 p.m. and Nicholls State at 5 p.m. on March 23.
No. 21 Mississippi State 4, No. 23 Vanderbilt 3
March 16, 2014 – Currey Tennis Center – Nashville, Tenn.
1. No. 16 Austin (VU) def. No. 91 Stropp (MSU) 6-2, 6-3
2. No. 102 Lipman (VU) def. No. 69 Lakat (MSU) 6-4, 7-6(6)
3. Kris Yee (VU) def. White (MSU) 6-1, 6-1
4. Angus (MSU) def. Kovrigin (VU) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
5. Agarwal (MSU) def. Jeffrey Offerdahl (VU) 7-6(6), 1-6, 7-5
6. Schmid (MSU) def. Smith (VU) 7-5, 6-2
Order of finish… Doubles (1,2,3)… Singles (3,1,2,4,5,6)