STARKVILLE – No. 14 Mississippi State men’s tennis earned the highest-ranked win in program history as it knocked off second-ranked South Carolina 5-2 on Sunday inside the Rula Tennis Pavilion.
The Bulldogs (15-3, 3-2 SEC) won the doubles point and clinched the match at 4-1 to earn their fourth victory over a top 20 opponent this year. The victory also improved MSU to 13-1 at home this spring.
“This feels great,” said head coach Matt Roberts. “It was just an incredible job by the guys to compete every point. We were down in doubles and were able to come back and show a lot of resilience and belief in themselves. We’ve been working on playing ever point as tough as we can and it’s paying off. We had a great week of practice and I’m just super proud of these guys and how they’re starting to believe in themselves more and more.”
The Bulldogs’ freshmen class was instrumental in the upset with all three winning in singles and doubles action. Petar Jovanovic teamed with graduate Ewen Lumsden to clinch the doubles point with their 7-6(1) tiebreaker victory over 22nd-ranked Jake Beasley and James Story. Jovanovic also knocked off No. 84 Raphael Lambling 6-2, 6-4 for his second ranked win in singles competition.
The rookie tandem of Michal Novansky and Benito Sanchez Martinez earned a 6-4 doubles win against Lambling and Casey Hoole before each claimed a straight-set singles victory. Novansky beat Beasley 6-4, 6-4 while Sanchez Martinez clinched the match with his 6-3, 6-4 win over Hoole, who is ranked 83rd nationally.
“I think the freshmen are growing at an incredible rate,” Roberts said. “It’s just been so much fun. They’re so coachable and want to do everything right. They’re improving quickly doing what we do with our culture. I’m proud of the way they’re competing, believing in themselves and fighting.”
It was the second straight weekend Sanchez Martinez has taken down a ranked opponent after knocking off No. 100 Pierce Rollins of Texas A&M last Saturday. It was also the second time the newcomer from Potsdam, Germany has clinched a match for State this spring.
“It was unreal for me, quite the experience,” Sanchez Martinez said. “I had that feeling of knowing I won it for the team. It wasn’t just my victory, it was our team’s victory.”
Lumsden’s singles victory put the Bulldogs back ahead 2-1 when he topped Story in straight…
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