Already off to one of the best starts in team history, the No. 9 ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs kick off action in the 2014 ITA National Team Indoor Championship Friday night against No. 11 California at 6 pm at the Galleria Tennis and Athletic Club in Houston.
"It's a great opportunity for our young guys and our whole team to see this level of play," said Mississippi State assistant coach Matt Roberts. "We're just excited about having the opportunity to play against these teams and improve and learn a lot from them."
In the eighth-seeded Golden Bears, the Bulldogs will face a foe they have not seen in nearly two decades. The last time the two squads met came in the round of 16 in the 1995 NCAA Tournament, a match won by Mississippi State.
In the matchup, expect freshman Florian Lakat, ranked No. 52, to hold down the No. 1 position for Mississippi State. The two-time SEC Freshman of the Week has played the No. 1 position all season, going 7-1. No. 49 Malte Stropp will most likely man the No. 2 position, the spot he has played all year while compiling a 4-1 record.
No. 115 Jordan Angus, who sports an undefeated 8-0 record on the year, and Zach White, who is 5-2, will most likely play in the No. 3 and No. 4 positions. At the bottom of the card will be some combination of Rishab Agarwal (6-2), Robin Haden (4-0), and Tassilo Scmid (4-1).
The Golden Bears will be led by No. 62 Ben McLachlan, No. 68 Campbell Johnson, and No. 118 Andre Goransson.
One point of interest could be doubles point. Mississippi State lost the often pivotal point against both Harvard and Memphis en route to qualifying for the final 16. Played before the singles matches, the doubles point allows a team to enter singles contests ahead 1-0.
The Bulldogs are making their second consecutive trip to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship, which features five SEC squads this season.
The Bulldogs will next face either the top seeded Virginia Cavaliers or the No. 16 seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish in their next contest. All teams play at least three matches (Draw available).