MSU beats Vandy, advances to quarterfinals
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Despite dropping the doubles point to open Thursday's match, the Mississippi State men's tennis team (18-7) cruised past Vanderbilt (12-15) as the Bulldogs downed the Commodores, 4-1 in Knoxville.
With the win, MSU advances to the Southeastern Conference Tournament Quarterfinals, where the Bulldogs will face No. 19 South Carolina on Friday at 5 p.m. CT. UTsports.com will provide live stats and video.
"Great win tonight for our guys," head coach Matt Roberts said. "This is the type of match that feels great to get as a team, because you know you competed well and got better. Vanderbilt always battles, so this was a great win against a scrappy team."
The victory improved MSU's record to 18-7 on the season, while the Vandy fell to 12-15 on the year.
MSU took the first match in doubles action, after the ninth-ranked duo of Niclas Braun and Trevor Foshey blew past No. 47 Lachlan McPhee and Billy Rowe, 6-2. The Bulldog tandem is now an impressive 18-9 on the season, with a team-best nine ranked doubles wins.
On courts two and three the Commodores would fight back as Vandy won over Nuno Borges and Strahinja Rakic, 6-2 to even the odds. On court two, Vandy would edge out Mate Cutura and Vaughn Hunter as the Bulldog pair dropped a tough battle, 6-4.
"We looked a little sluggish in doubles play to be honest," Roberts said. "I stepped back and let our guys sort it out after that. They showed a lot of maturity by taking the slow start and turning it into positive energy."
The Bulldogs kicked it into next gear in singles play as the Maroon & White took all six first sets to swing the momentum away from Vandy. On court five, MSU picked up its first point of the contest after Giovanni Oradini turned in a strong performance to win, 6-3, 6-1 over Panu Virtanen
"I was very proud of Giovanni's effort tonight" Roberts said. "This week he's battled through adversity and grown up a lot. He's been able to focus on what's in front of him instead of worrying about negativity and things he can't control."
It wouldn't be long until the next court would fall MSU's way as Rakic edged out Billy Rowe in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3 to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the match.
MSU wouldn't look back after taking the lead as Foshey gave the Bulldogs a commanding 3-1 advantage. The sophomore took care of Tate Allwardt in an impressive fashion, 6-3, 6-4. Cutura would deliver the 4-1 win after the senior downed No. 107 Baker Newman, 6-2, 7-6(4).
"Today was great, but now we're moving on to South Carolina," Roberts said. "We're locked in to the next goal and focused on improving. Every match is another opportunity to get better and we're looking forward to getting back at it tomorrow."
MSU now shifts focus to No. 19 South Carolina as the Bulldogs advance to face the Gamecocks in SEC quarterfinal action on Friday at 5 p.m. CT.
Doubles 1. No. 9 Niclas Braun/Trevor Foshey (MSU) def. No. 47 Lachlan McPhee/Billy Rowe (VU) 6-2 2. Pen Binet/Baker Newman (VU) def. Mate Cutura/Vaughn Hunter (MSU) 6-4 3. Daniel Valent/Panu Virtanen (VU) def. Nuno Borges/Strahinja Rakic (MSU) 6-2 Order of finish: 1, 3, 2
Singles 1. No. 3 Nuno Borges (MSU) vs. No. 54 Daniel Valent (VU) 6-3, 6-6, suspended 2. Mate Cutura (MSU) def. No. 107 Baker Newman (VU) 6-2, 7-6(4) 3. No. 111 Strahinja Rakic (MSU) def. Billy Rowe (VU) 7-5, 6-3 4. Niclas Braun (MSU) vs. Alex Ross (VU) 6-3, 3-6, 1-1, suspended 5. Giovanni Oradini (MSU) def. Panu Virtanen (VU) 6-3, 6-1 6. Trevor Foshey (MSU) def. Tate Allwardt (VU) 6-3, 6-4 Order of Finish: 5, 3, 6, 2