STARKVILLE – For the second consecutive Thursday, No. 18 Mississippi State men’s tennis secured a win over a top 20 opponent at home.
After knocking off then No. 19 Florida 5-2 last week, the Bulldogs continued their stellar play on their home courts by taking down 15th-ranked Auburn 4-3 at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
“We’re just trying to play every point as tough as we can and not give away too many free points and build off of that and trust ourselves,” said head coach Matt Roberts. “We did that against a really good team today.”
With the score tied 3-3, the match came down to Court 1 where No. 125 Nemanja Malesevic was locked in a three-set battle with 124th-ranked Tyler Stice. Malesevic jumped out to a 6-1 lead after the first set but fell 3-6 in the second.
All eyes were on Malesevic up 6-5 and facing a deuce point when he ripped a forehand past Stice’s racquet, clinching the match for MSU. Malesevic fell to his knees and pounded the court before being swarmed by his teammates in celebration.
“I’ve never been in a moment like this before where it’s three all and coming down to my court,” Malesevic said. “I just did what my coaches Matt (Roberts) and Jake (Jacoby) talk about. The whole team embraces committed action and controlling what you can control. I really went for it and things ended up great.”
It was Mississippi State’s third victory over a top 20 opponent this season and improved the Bulldogs to 2-1 in the SEC and 13-2 overall. State remains unbeaten at home with an 11-0 record.
“When it came down to the last three courts, the crowd was electric,” Malesevic said. “That’s what pumped me up. I love to play in this environment and like to use the crowd. They are so big for us so if anyone reads this that haven’t been to any of our tennis matches, come because you’re going to have a lot of fun.”
Down the school’s all-time dual match doubles wins leader Gregor Ramskogler due to injury, the Bulldogs fell behind early with two new tandems taking the court. Auburn (11-4, 1-2 SEC) claimed the doubles point as Billy Blaydes and Jan Galka defeated Petar Jovanovic and Patrick Lazo 6-2 and 33rd-ranked Raul Dobai and Finn Murgett upset No. 26 Malesevic and Carles Herandez 6-2.
But MSU quickly established itself on the singles side of things by taking five of the first six sets. Ewen Lumsden…
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