For the seventh time in school history and the second time in as many years, the Mississippi State men's tennis squad has started the season 5-0, and it took a rally from the brink of defeat for the Bulldogs to secure a 4-3 victory over No. 53 Texas Tech Friday at the McLeod Tennis Center in Lubbock.
All early signs pointed to a tight contest in the matchup against the Red Raiders as Texas Tech took the doubles point by winning the final doubles court in a tiebreaker. The No. 33 ranked doubles team of Hugo Dojas and Maxime Hinnisdaels took down No. 52 Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp 6-3 to put Texas Tech ahead one court in doubles play. The Bulldogs leveled the doubles when Rishab Agarwall and Zach White defeated Carlos DiLaura and Francisco Zambon 6-3 on the third doubles court.
All attention turned to the second doubles court, where play pushed into a tiebreaker before the Red Raiders' team of Felipe Soares and Johann Willems squeaked past Florian Lakat and Tassilo Schmid 6-5(5) to put Texas Tech ahead 1-0 going into singles competition.
The Red Raiders raced ahead early on the singles court when Jolan Cailleau defeated Schmid 6-3, 6-2 on court six, and Zambon defeated Agarwal 6-4, 6-5(3) on court five to put Texas Tech ahead 3-0.
Meanwhile on court four, White found himself pushed to a third set against Tech's Willems, and over on court two, No. 39 Stropp saw the Red Raiders' No. 65 Dojas trying to defeat him for the second time in the day by pushing their match to a third set.
Over on court one, freshman and No. 63 ranked Lakat rallied from a set down to force a third set against No. 101 Soares. Soon after, Angus put the first Mississippi State point on the board by knocking off Hinnisdaels 6-5(3), 6-4 on court three. Lakat rode his momentum of a late break to win the second set into the third set and scored a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory to cut the Texas Tech lead to 3-2.
Stropp and White, both seniors, had the match come down to their courts, and the seniors both picked up third set victores. White picked up the third Mississippi State point when he broke Willems to open the third set and carried the break to a 6-5(4), 4-6, 6-3 win to even the match at 3-3.
On the final court, Stropp raced to a 4-0 lead in the third set before Dojas rallied to push the set into a tiebreaker, but Stropp regrouped and took the tiebreaker and the match 6-5(5), 3-6, 6-5(5) to give Mississippi State a 4-3 victory.
The Bulldogs continue their play in Texas today with a noon matchup against the Rice Owls (2-2).