MSU men go to three sets to win at NCAAs


From Special Reports



WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The Mississippi State men's tennis team's entries had to endure three-set battles Thursday for the second-straight day to advance at the NCAA Championships at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex. 


MSU earned two three-set singles wins and a nail-biting doubles triumph to propel Nuno Borges, Giovanni Oradini, and the doubles tandem of Borges and Strahinja Rakic into Friday's Round of 16. It marks the first time since 1997 MSU has advanced two singles players and a doubles duo to the NCAA Round of 16 in the same year. 


"I'm really proud of how we battled today," MSU coach Matt Roberts said. "Giovanni was really tested mentally today. His opponent always plays tough and never gave him many free points. Nuno had to play a very tough player with a huge serve. He kept pumping himself up and competing, and then turned that match around. I'm really proud of how all three guys competed and represented Mississippi State, and we're looking forward to another day tomorrow to continue working together and having fun here in the best tournament in college tennis." 


In the second round of singles, Oradini, a sophomore, beat Minnesota senior Felix Corwin, who is ranked 53rd nationally, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (3), 6-2. The win helped Oradini earn All-America status and become the 24th All-American in MSU men's tennis history. 


"I played pretty well in the first set, but didn't play as well in the second and I had a dip of intensity there," Oradini said. "I was really intense in my third set. I had my game plan and stuck to it, which allowed me to play my game." 


Oradini will face the nation's top-ranked player, UCLA's Martin Redlicki, at 10 a.m. Friday. Redlicki reached the Round of 16 with a pair of three-set comeback triumphs--first against Ole Miss' 33rd-ranked Tim Sandkaulen on Wednesday and UC-Santa Barbara's No. 67 Nicolas Moreno de Alboran on Thursday. 


Borges faced Wake Forest's Skander Mansouri (ranked 38th nationally) for the third time in two seasons. The two-time All-American breezed to a 6-2 first-set victory. In the second set,  


Mansouri broke Borges at 4-all, 30-40, to take a 5-4 lead. Mansouri served it out and took the second frame by a 6-4 mark to force a third set. 


Mansouri continued his momentum from the second stanza, building a 4-2 lead and going up 15-40 in an attempt to break Borges and take a commanding 5-2 lead. But Borges won the final three points to hold that game to 4-3. From there, the two-time Southeastern Conference Player of the Year took three straight games on deciding points to take the set and match 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. 


Borges' win was his second straight against Mansouri in three meetings, with Borges' last win coming in the 2017 NCAA Singles quarterfinals in Athens, Georgia. 


"When I took the 6-2, 1-0 lead, I thought I had him," Borges said. "He had a deuce point at 1-all and I thought I was going to break him right there. He bounced back really fast and the momentum carried a little bit over to his side. He was serving so clean and it was hard for me to do anything, but I took the chances he gave me." 


Borges will take on Florida's Alfredo Perez, who is ranked 14th nationally and is a 9-16 alphabetical seed in the draw. Perez reached the Round of 16 by taking straight-set decisions against Ohio State's 41st-ranked JJ Wolf and Columbia's 27th-ranked Victor Pham. Borges and Perez will play at 11:30 a.m. Friday. 


In the opening round of doubles, MSU's top-ranked and top-seeded team of Borges and Rakic rallied for a 2-6, 7-5, 1-0 (8) victory against Louisville's Chris Morin-Kougoucheff and Parker Wynn.  


Borges and Rakic will face Wisconsin's 14th-ranked Chema Carranza and Josef Dodridge at 3 p.m. Friday. 


"They were playing unbelievable doubles and it was super clean," Borges said. "Today was all about competing until the last point, and that's what we did." 


Said Rakic, "We just tried to stay in it and we waited for our chance. When that chance came, we took it and it paid off." 




Ole Miss team of Sandkaulen, Fallert advance to second round Ole Miss' 17th-ranked team of Tim Sandkaulen and Fabian Fallert defeated Michigan's 23rd-ranked duo of Runhao Hua and Alex Knight 6-2, 6-2 on Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA Doubles Championships on the lower courts of the Wake Forest Tennis Complex. 


The win marked the first time Sandkaulen and Fallert played together since March 11. 


With Fallert out three weeks due to injury, Sandkaulen teamed with Grey Hamilton at No. 1 doubles. Fallert teamed with Finn Reynolds when he returned to the lineup. Both had success and helped the Rebels win some crucial doubles points on their way to the Sweet 16. 


"Tim and Fabi looked extremely sharp today for having not played together in a while," Ole Miss assistant coach Devin Britton said. "They brought the energy early and often, which is a huge piece in the doubles. Every team in this tournament is tough and for them to win a match with that kind of score line is a big confidence booster. It's only going to get tougher tomorrow, but they will be ready to go again." 


Sandkaulen and Fallert will face No. 4 seed Johannes Ingildsen and Alfredo Perez, of Florida, in the round of 16 Friday.  




Hartono leads Ole Miss women to 2-0 mark 


Ole Miss senior Arianne Hartono dominated her opponent Thursday to advance to the third round of the NCAA Singles Championship at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex. 


Later Thursday, Hartono teamed with sophomore Alexa Bortles to win in straight sets and advance to the round of 16 in doubles.  


After grinding out a tough win in the first round against the nation's No. 20 ranked player, sixth-seeded Hartono needed just a little over an hour to cruise to a 6-0, 6-2 win against Washington's Vanessa Wong.  


With the win, Hartono improved to 33-6 and moved into a tie for seventh in wins for a single season at Ole Miss. She has won 13-straight matches. 


Hartono got the first break of the match and led 3-0 on her way to a 6-0 first set. She broke to start the second set as well, and never let Wong back in the match, winning it 6-2 to advance to the round of 16 for the second time in her career.  


After a break between her singles and doubles, Hartono and Bortles came out and won a huge first set tiebreaker against Fresno State's Georgia Lawson and Emma Wilson. At 2-2, both teams traded breaks all the way to 6-6. Hartono and Bortles dropped the first two points of the breaker, but then won three straight to take a 3-2 lead. At 4-4, the All-America duo won the final three points for a 7-6 (4) victory. 


Hartono and Bortles carried the momentum into the second set where they jumped out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back, winning it 6-0 to improve to 23-12. 


"Good day for the Rebs!" Ole Miss coach Mark Beyers said. "At this stage of the season, it's always nice to get a quick win, and Ari was able to get off the court in an hour. Ari and Alexa struggled a bit in the first set of doubles, but they were able to break back a few times and pull out a tiebreak. They lifted their level in the second set to win a lot more comfortably." 


Hartono will face Georgia Tech's Paige Hourigan (9-16) at 9 a.m. Friday in the round of 16. In doubles, Hartono and Bortles will meet LSU's Jessica Golovin and Eden Richardson in the round of 16. 




Alabama's Osama wins in singles, falls in doubles 


Junior Mazen Osama became the first Alabama men's tennis player to advance to the Round of 16 after defeating TCU's No. 65 Trevor Johnson 6-3, 6-0 in the second round of the NCAA Singles Tournament on Thursday morning at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex. 


The Cairo, Egypt native, earned his third-career win in his second-career appearance (corrected from yesterday's release) in the tournament. It was his 11th victory against a top-125 opponent this year. With the win, Osama improves to 17-7. 


Osama also advanced to the Round of 32 in 2016, making him only the second player ever in school history to make it to the second round twice in two separate seasons. 


No. 10 Osama will play Michigan's No. 47 Runhao Hua, who upset Texas A&M's No. 5 Patrick Kypson in the Round of 32, at 9 a.m. Friday. 


Osama and sophomore Edson Ortiz fell to Ohio State's No. 25 Torpegaard/Joyce 6-2, 7-6 (1) in the first round of the NCAA Doubles Tournament on Thursday night. 


The No. 26 duo in the nation ended the season with a 16-10 record in their first year as a tandem. The pair played all of their matches in the No. 1 spot this season. 




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