State ousts Auburn 4-1 in SEC Tournament opener
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - It was a great start for Mississippi State women's tennis at the 2019 SEC Championship Wednesday, as the 12th-seeded Bulldogs (14-12) ousted No. 13 seed Auburn (14-15) 4-1 Texas A&M's Mitchell Tennis Center.
With the victory, 49th-ranked State advances to Thursday's second round where it will meet fifth-seeded and 19th-ranked tournament host Texas A&M (20-6). Match time is set for 2 p.m. CT.
In Wednesday's opener, the Tigers jumped on MSU early, claiming close wins at the top two doubles positions for an early 1-0 lead. State actually took the first match off court when Janina Braun and Sara Lizariturry notched a 6-3 triumph over AU's Linsday Song and Caroline Turner at the No. 3 spot.
Auburn's Jaeda Daniel and Madeline Meredith took a 6-4 win over the 61st-ranked Bulldog duo of Magda Adaloglou and Tamara Racine on court 1. The Tigers then sealed the point with another 6-4 victory, registered at No. 2 by Alanna Griffin and Taylor Russo over MSU's tandem of Emma Antonaki and Anastasia Rentouli. But State responded quite strong in singles, taking the opening set at all six positions and never really looked back - though Auburn did battle MSU closely in all second sets.
Tying the match for the Bulldogs was Braun as the senior won her third match in a row, rallying from 4-2 down in the second set for a 6-1, 7-6(1) victory over AU's Yu Chen on court 5. Just moments later, the MSU true freshman Racine also claimed a tiebreaker to put MSU up 2-1, ousting the Tigers' Griffin at No. 4 6-1, 7-6(3).
MSU's third point came at the top spot, where the 67th-ranked rookie sensation Antonaki notched her team-leading 25th singles win of the year with a tough 7-6(5), 6-4 triumph over AU's 87th-ranked Daniel at No. 1. Antonaki claimed the last two points of the first-set breaker after Daniel had rallied from 5-2 down to tie it up at 5-5.
Clinching the match for the Bulldogs was Adaloglou at No. 3. There, the sophomore won for the second-straight match with a hard-fought 6-3, 7-5 victory over the Tigers' Russo.
The remaining two matches were suspended at that point. MSU's Rentouli was in a three-set battle with Auburn's Meredith at No. 2, trailing 0-6, 6-3, 4-2. On court 6, MSU's Lizariturry - back in the lineup after missing this past weekend's matches due to injury - was nearing victory, up 7-5, 4-2 over AU's Turner.
"We didn't play well overall in the doubles but we rebounded extremely well to take all six first sets in singles, "MSU head coach Daryl Greenan said. "To Auburn's credit, they kept fighting. I am just happy with the way we battled for the win. Overall, it was a scrappy, hard-earned win for us. We are excited to be playing in the next round."
Next Up For MSU...
MSU continues play in the 2019 SEC Championship Thursday in College Station. State, seeded 12th, will meet fifth-seeded and 19th-ranked tourney host Texas A&M at 2 p.m. CT Thursday afternoon. The Aggies edged the Bulldogs 4-2 just last Thursday in Starkville in the teams' only meeting this year. Though this meeting will be the sixth between the schools all-time in College Station, it will be the first-ever clash between the Bulldogs and Aggies in the SEC Championship.
Texas A&M is led in singles by 54th-ranked Katya Townsend and 69th-ranked Jayci Goldsmith. In doubles, Goldsmith and Tatiana Makarova form the country's 32nd-ranked tandem.