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Mississippi State men's tennis sweeps Alcorn State in NCAA first round; Dogs will play Baylor at 10 a.m. Saturday in 2nd round


FILE - Mississippi State sophomore Zach White didn't lose a single game today in either his doubles or singles match as the Bulldogs cruised to a 4-0 sweep of Alcorn State in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament Friday.

FILE - Mississippi State sophomore Zach White didn't lose a single game today in either his doubles or singles match as the Bulldogs cruised to a 4-0 sweep of Alcorn State in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament Friday. Photo by: MSU athletics



Matt Stevens


STARKVILLE - Sometimes the key to tournament play is the conservation of energy used throughout stages of the event.  


After watching their opponent the following day, Baylor University, spend over four hours on the court to dispatch the University of Memphis 4-2 earlier in the day, the No. 9 seed Bulldogs made sure they had a much lighter workout in a win.  


"We have a very well conditioned group here so I don't think being on the court for a long time would've affected but it is nice to know that we have fresher legs going into tomorrow," MSU junior Ethan Wilkinson said.  


MSU accomplished just that in a 4-0 sweep victory over Alcorn State University in the first round of the NCAA men's tennis tournament. The highly favored Bulldogs were on the playing court just over 90 minutes in the dominating victory over the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament champion.  


"The job was to get better today and we knew we were a little stronger than Alcorn State most days with our league being so much tougher," Nilsson said. "I was a little worried that my guys would look ahead a bit but they didn't at all." 


In the first matchup between the in-state opponent, MSU dominated the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles matches in a pair of 8-0 victories to quickly take the doubles point. The Bulldogs won the first set in each of the six singles matches.  


In the No. 6 singles match, Wilkinson didn't have much time to prepare to play both doubles and singles Friday when his coach came to him saying he was in the lineup. The lack of preparation time didn't seem to phase the transfer from Itawamba Community College and Australia native.  


"Just before the match Coach came out and told me he would give me an opportunity today and I'm grateful for that," Wilkinson said. "We've been working on it since I got here in January and that's serve-volley to get to the net as quickly as I can." 


Wilikinson, who replaced MSU sophomore Malte Stropp in the singles lineup due Nilsson wanted to rest his groin injury suffered before the Southeastern Conference Tournament two weeks ago, won his doubles match with Zach White and then defeated Alcorn State's Max Tkachenko 6-3, 6-2 to complete the 4-0 sweep. 


"He knew he would play a couple of days ago and it was a great opportunity to help him get a match in," Nilsson said. "We were smiling a little bit there at the end that he was trying to hurry up and finish his match.  


Wilkinson's doubles partner Friday, Zach White didn't lose a single game in either his doubles or singles match against Alcorn State.  


"I think he had some Canadian bacon and some maple syrup for breakfast today to make him happy," Nilsson joked about the sophomore from Ontario, Canada. "He's had a great week of practice and been solid lately for us so I'm not surprised all kidding aside that he played the way he did today."  


After winning his doubles match with Wilkinson in 8-0 fashion on Court 3, White defeated Alcorn State's Garry Amor on Court 5 singles 6-0, 6-0.  


"We started playing well together two months ago and we communicate well together," Wilkinson said. " 


Even when the matches wrapped up, MSU was ahead in the unfinished three singles matches. Since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1999, MSU is now 7-2 in the opening round. MSU will try to make it out of the NCAA Regional round for the first time since 2001. 


"It's going to be a lot of fun and it's great that we got to host after I think we earned it with how we played throughout the year," Chaudry said.  


Saturday's NCAA Second Round match time of 10 a.m. CT, originally slated for 2 p.m., was changed due to inclement weather threatening the Starkville area. 






2012 NCAA Men's Tennis Championship - First Round
5/11/12 - A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre - Starkville, Miss.


No. 9 Mississippi State 4, Alcorn State 0





1) #25 George Coupland/Artem Ilyushin (MSU) vs. Ernesto Santillan/Weinfried Weinbeer (ASU) 3-3 (susp.)


2) #47 Louis Cant/Malte Stropp (MSU) def. Garry Amor/Vitali Vasileuski (ASU) 8-0


3) Zach White/Ethan Wilkinson (MSU) def. Alexandr Lidzar/Max Tkachenko (ASU) 8-0 




1) #13 Ilyushin (MSU) vs. Santillan (ASU) 6-1, 5-1 (susp.)


2) #88 James Chaudry (MSU) vs. Weinbeer (ASU) 6-2, 2-1 (susp.)


3) #56 Coupland (MSU) vs. Vasileuski (ASU) 6-3, 1-0 (susp.)


4) #50 Cant (MSU) def. Lidzar (ASU) 6-2, 6-0


5) White (MSU) def. Amor (ASU) 6-0, 6-0


6) Wilkinson (MSU) def. Tkachenko (ASU) 6-3, 6-2 




Order of finish... Doubles (2,3)... Singles (5,4,6) 




All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.



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