NCAA Mens Tennis

State Primed For Top 15 Showdown

State Primed For Top 15 Showdown

STARKVILLE – No. 14 Mississippi State will be vying for its fourth top 20 victory of the season when it hosts second-ranked South Carolina at noon on Sunday.

The Bulldogs have already knocked off a pair of teams that were ranked 15th in Florida State and Auburn as well as then 19th-ranked Florida. Sunday’s match against the Gamecocks is scheduled to be played at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre but could be moved inside the adjacent Rula Tennis Pavilion due to inclement weather.

State enters the match with a 14-3 overall record and a 2-2 mark in SEC play. The Bulldogs split a Saturday doubleheader during their last time out last weekend, falling 4-2 to now 27th-ranked Texas A&M before beating Belmont 6-1.

Carles Hernandez enters Sunday’s match ranked 89th in the country in the latest ITA poll. He has won his last 13 out of 15 singles matches and currently holds a sparkling 13-2 dual match record and is 4-0 in SEC play.

No. 125 Nemanja Malesevic tops the team with five wins over ranked opponents and is tied for the team lead with Ewen Lumsden having clinched four matches for the Bulldogs. Lumsden has won 11 of his last 13 matches.  

Freshman Benito Sanchez Martinez enters the contest with the Gamecocks with a spectacular 13-4 record in dual-match play. Last weekend, he recorded the first ranked win of his still young career against No. 100 Pierce Rollins of Texas A&M.

Hernandez and Malesevic also make up the 26th-ranked duo in the current ITA rankings, having already defeated three ranked pairings and clinched five doubles points for the Bulldogs this season.

South Carolina (15-1) is currently 6-0 on the road following Friday’s 4-3 win at No. 45 LSU. The Gamecocks’ lone loss this season was at the hands of now No. 10 Georgia 4-3 at the in the opening round of the ITA Team Indoor Championships in Chicago on Feb. 17.

The singles and doubles lineup of South Carolina features several ranked players and pairings. Connor Thompson (5), Toby Samuel (6), Casey Hoole (83) and Raphael Lambling (84) make up for the ranked singles players. Samuel and Thompson come in as the nation’s top doubles tandem while Jake Beasley and James Story are ranked 22nd in doubles.

MSU is 23-12…

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