STARKVILLE, Miss. – Despite jumping out to an early 1-0 advantage by taking the doubles point, the 16th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (17-8, 6-4 Southeastern Conference) could not find their rhythm in singles play, falling to the No. 15 Florida Gators (11-7, 6-3 SEC) 4-1 Friday afternoon at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
The loss snapped a 14-match home winning streak for the Bulldogs, dating back to last season. State falls to 11-1 on the season at home.
Florida earned the hot start in doubles play, jumping out by a break on all three courts halfway through the matches. The Gators struck first, as the duo of Michael Alford and Diego Hidalgo defeated MSU’s Rishab Agarwal and Zach White 8-5 at No. 3. State’s top duo of No. 63 Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp evened the playing field, defeating UF’s Florent Diep and Gordon Watson 8-5.
The Gators led on court two and looked to cruise to the doubles point, up a break 5-2. However, MSU’s Florian Lakat and Tassilo Schmid would not back down, battling back to force a tiebreaker and take the match 8-7(2) against UF’s Maxx Lipman and Elliott Orkin, giving the Bulldogs an early 1-0 lead.
Singles play proved to be a roller coaster of momentum from the start, as neither squad gained a solid footing early, but Florida grabbed first sets on four of six courts to try and mount a comeback. Florida struck first, tying the team match at 1-1 with a 6-2, 6-3 victory on court three from UF’s Lipman against MSU’s White. The Gators gained their first lead of the match at 2-1 when the 79th-ranked Orkin downed MSU’s Agarwal 6-4, 6-4 on court five.
With the lead, Florida began to put the pressure on MSU, forcing a third set on courts two and four, where the Bulldogs captured the opening sets. After splitting sets at the No. 2 position, the Gators were able to pull out that match, as No. 108 Diep defeated MSU’s No. 114 Stropp 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 for a 3-1 UF lead. The team winner came on court six, as UF’s Alford fought off a furious attempt from MSU’s Robin Haden to force a third set, winning 6-3, 7-5 to clinch the match.
Play on courts one and four were suspended at the clinch. MSU’s No. 67 Lakat was a game away from earning another ranked win on the year, leading 1-6, 6-3, 5-3 at the top spot. Play had just entered a third set on court four, with MSU’s Angus battling UF’s Hidalgo 7-6(4), 5-7, 1-1.
The Maroon and White will now hit the road to close out the weekend, traveling to Columbia, S.C., to face No. 40 South Carolina on Sunday at 11 a.m. CT.
MSU closes out the regular season next Sunday, April 13, as it plays host to No. 10 Texas A&M at 12 p.m. CT for Senior Day and part of Super Bulldog Weekend. For complete event times and ticket information, visit the official 2014 Super Bulldog Weekend web page, which can also be reached by visiting www.HailState.com/sbw.
No. 15 Florida 4, No. 16 Mississippi State 1
April 4, 2014 –A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre – Starkville, Miss.
1. No. 67 Lakat (MSU) vs. No. 78 Watson (UF) 1-6, 6-3, 5-3(susp.)
2. No. 109 Diep (UF) def. No. 114 Stropp (MSU) 4-6, 6-1, 6-2
3. Lipman (UF) def. White (MSU) 6-2, 6-3
4. Angus (MSU) vs. Hidalgo (UF) 7-6(4), 5-7, 1-1(susp.)
5. No. 79 Orkin (UF) def. Agarwal (MSU) 6-4, 6-4
6. Alford (UF) def. Robin Haden (MSU) 6-3, 7-5
Order of finish… Doubles (3,1,2)… Singles (3,5,2,6)