May 12, 2018 11:11:50 PM
STARKVILLE -- For the 13th time in program history, and the second time in the last three seasons, the Mississippi State men's tennis team is headed to the NCAA Round of 16.
No. 7 and sixth-seeded MSU earned a trip to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with a 4-0 victory against South Alabama in front of the largest home crowd of the season at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
The win helped MSU (22-2) earn its most victories in a season since the 1979 squad went 25-2.
MSU will face No. 11 Texas at 11 a.m. Friday in the Round of 16 at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex. Texas advanced with a 4-0 victory against California on Saturday in Austin, Texas.
"The guys did a great job the last two days and enjoyed our great home crowd," MSU fourth-year coach Matt Roberts said. "We played well in doubles today and then the guys took care of the first hour of singles, which usually puts us in a good position to close it out."
MSU's No. 3 doubles tandem of Florian Broska and Trevor Foshey got the Bulldogs off to a quick start, breezing past Santiago di Loreto and Maxime Lapraille 6-0. The Jaguars evened up the doubles count with a 6-2 upset win by 51st-ranked Clement Marzol and Loic Cloes over top-ranked Nuno Borges and Strahinja Rakic on court 1.
Less a minute later, the 38th-ranked Bulldog duo Niclas Braun and Giovanni Oradini clinched the doubles point with a 6-3 victory against Olivier Gingras and Sacha Modica. The Bulldogs have won nine-straight doubles points and 18 of their last 20.
MSU won four first sets in singles. Braun was first off the courts with a 6-2, 6-3 decision at No. 4 against Lucas Gonzalez.
On court 6, Foshey made it 3-0 with a 6-2, 6-4 victory against Lapraille. Moments later, Oradini served for the match on court 2. There, the 23rd-ranked sophomore clinched his second match in as many days (and team-leading 11th of the year), taking a 6-3, 6-4 victory against Cloes.
"I know we have been putting a lot of hard work in, so it is great to keep playing," Oradini said. "I am really happy that we made it. We did an unbelievable job, winning both days 4-0. The crowd was awesome, and knowing that people came and bought tickets makes us feel special, and we appreciate the love and support from people who came out to watch."
Borges' match on court 1 was suspended with the second-ranked junior up a set, while Rakic led 4-3 in his second frame and Broska led 3-1 in the second at the clincher on courts 3 and 5, respectively, after each dropping tight first sets.
MSU moves to 14-7 all-time against South Alabama. It has won the last three matchups. The Bulldogs also finished the season 12-0 at home to become the fourth team in program history to finish unblemished at home.
"We enjoyed playing in front of (the fans)," Roberts said. "We love our fans and we love Mississippi State. It's great to play in front of them and showcase our competitive fire and what we're all about."