STARKVILLE, Miss. – With a four-match road trip in the rearview mirror, the 22nd-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (13-7, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) return home to the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre for a three-match home stand, starting against the LSU Tigers (9-8, 0-5) on Friday at 2 p.m. CT.
State enters the LSU affair after taking a 4-3 comeback victory against the 23rd-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville, Tenn., to close out its lengthy road swing this past Sunday.
Leading the way for the Bulldogs will be the one-two punch of senior Malte Stropp, ranked 91st in the nation, and freshman Florian Lakat, ranked 69th nationally. Stropp, who has 13 wins for the overall season, is looking to rebound after a tough start to SEC play, while Lakat has 17 wins on the year, which ties for the team lead.
In the middle of the MSU lineup is another combo of experience and youth, with senior Zach White and sophomore Jordan Angus. White has 10 wins for dual match play while splitting time between the No. 3 and No. 4 spots. Angus, who won his last two matches in the road stretch, has picked up 12 of his 17 overall victories in the spring.
Anchoring the Bulldogs’ order is a combination of newcomers, with freshmen Rishab Agarwal and Robin Haden, and junior Tassilo Schmid, all spending time between the fifth and sixth spots. Agarwal has had an impressive rookie campaign to date, going 11-5 since joining the Maroon and White in January. Haden has put together six victories for the 2013-14 campaign, while Schmid has picked up seven of his eight triumphs in the spring.
In doubles play, the 40th-ranked squad of Angus and Stropp, who have won eight matches for the dual match slate, leads MSU into the weekend. The tandems of Lakat and Schmid (7-8 for the spring) and Agarwal and White (8-4 for the spring) round out doubles for the Bulldogs.
Chris Simpson, who has been a solid No. 1 for LSU and is ranked 62nd nationally, leads the visiting Tigers into the weekend. He is 10-5 in dual matches. LSU also boasts a tandem of ranked doubles teams, with Simpson and Boris Arias (9-6 in the spring) coming in at No. 30 and Eric Perez and Tam Trinh (2-3 in the spring) ranked 61st nationally.
The Bulldogs will round out the weekend with a Sunday doubleheader at the Pitts Tennis Centre. State will host No. 71 Arkansas (8-6, 1-4 SEC) at 1 p.m. CT, and will close out the day against Southland Conference foe Nicholls State (9-7) at 5.