STARKVILLE, Miss. – With the 2014 regular season for Mississippi State’s tennis teams hitting the home stretch, the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre will play host to a doubleheader Friday, as MSU welcomes the Florida Gators in a men’s/women’s twinbill.
The 16th-ranked MSU men’s tennis Bulldogs (17-7, 6-3 Southeastern Conference) will kick off the day against the No. 15 Florida men’s tennis Gators (10-7, 5-3 SEC) at 2 p.m. CT. The weekend-opening twinbill will close with the 75th-ranked MSU women’s tennis Bulldogs (9-10, 1-8 SEC) facing No. 7 Florida (15-4, 7-2 SEC) at approximately 5 p.m. CT (there will be a break after the conclusion of the men's match).
A trio of Bulldogs have spearheaded State’s men’s singles attack for the 2014 season. Leading the way has been freshman Florian Lakat, who enters the weekend ranked 67th in the nation. Lakat has put together 19 wins for the 2013-14 season while also tying a school record with four SEC Freshman of the Week honors this year. Also at the top of the lineup is senior No. 114 Malte Stropp, who is coming off an impressive straight-sets victory in State’s big win at rival Ole Miss last Sunday.
Also putting together an impressive singles season is sophomore Jordan Angus, who has a team-leading 21 victories for the 2013-14 campaign, while also riding a six-match winning streak, which ties junior Tassilo Schmid for best on the team.
In doubles, the men are led by the 63rd-ranked duo of Angus and Stropp, who have earned a total of 15 victories for the year. The duo of Rishab Agarwal and Zach White lead the Bulldogs in doubles victories for the spring with 10. The duo of Lakat and Schmid round out the MSU tandem order.
On the men’s side, the Gators travel to Starkville having won five of their last seven matches, highlighted by four shutout victories. UF sports four ranked singles players and a ranked doubles squad as they come into Friday. Gordon Watson (78th), Elliott Orkin (79th), Spencer Newman (81st) and Florent Diep (108th) highlight UF’s singles order, while the duo of Orkin and Watson come in at No. 18 in doubles play.
Leading the way for MSU’s women’s squad is sophomore and 66th-ranked Georgiana Patrasc who is currently 6-1 in the SEC and 13-3 in dual matches this season. Veteran Alexandra Perper also continues to compete well in her senior campaign and is 9-5 in dual matches.
In doubles, the duo of Alexandra Perper and Naomi Tran continue to play well, ranked at No. 41 with a 5-1 SEC mark. The duo continued their excellent play on Sunday with a win over the Ole Miss duo of Erin Stephens and Iris Verboven on court 1. Patrasc and Petra Ferancova also picked up their first doubles win Sunday over a ranked opponent on court 3, defeating No. 76 Julia Jones and Zalina Khairudinova.
The UF women come into the weekend having won seven of their last nine, with five of those wins coming against top-50 foes. Six of the seven players on the Gator women’s roster are ranked in the ITA singles’ rankings, including Olivia Janowicz who sits at No. 10 with an overall dual match record of 9-3 and 4-1 in the SEC. 17th-ranked Brianna Morgan comes into the match with an undefeated 6-0 mark in conference play and 10-1 in all dual matches. Florida is led in doubles by the 20th-ranked tandem of Sofie Oyen and Belinda Woolcock. The duo of Janowicz and Kourtney Keegan are also ranked, sitting at No. 37 with an 8-1 dual match record.
Following Friday’s match, State’s men will head to Columbia, S.C., to take on the 40th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks, with the match scheduled to start at 11 a.m. CT. The MSU women remain at home, as they host No. 44 South Carolina in their final home match of the season. The Senior Day bout is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. CT Sunday at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre, with seniors Dion and Perper being honored prior to the match.
For more information on Mississippi State men’s tennis and updates, fans can follow the Bulldogs on Twitter (@HailStateMT), Facebook (HailStateMT) and Instagram (HailStateMT). Fans can find updates on MSU women’s tennis through Twitter (@HailStateWT), Facebook (HailStateWT) and Instagram (HailStateWT).