STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Harvard men's tennis team stormed out to an emotional victory in doubles play, but the Mississippi State singles lineup proved too strong as the Crimson fell, 4-1, to No. 10 MSU Saturday at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. Harvard finishes the season with a 19-6 overall record, while Mississippi State improves to 18-9 and advances onto the NCAA round of 16 in Champagne, Ill.
The first and third courts were dead-even through early doubles play, but the Mississippi State duo of Ethan Wilkinson and Pedro Dumont came out firing on the second court and picked up a pair of breaks to put Harvard's Andy Nguyen and Nicky Hu in a significant hole. The Bulldog duo kept up the energy through the end of the contest, polishing off am efficient 8-3 win.
A response came from the Crimson on the third court when Alex Steinroeder and Kelvin Lam wore down their MSU opponents, breaking serve at 5-4 and holding in the next game to take a convincing 7-4 lead. A hold from the Bulldogs' Romain Bogaerts and Zach White put the score at 7-5, but Steinroeder unleashed a pair of big serves at deuce to clinch the 8-5 win and level the doubles scores.
Harvard's top team of Denis Nguyen and Casey MacMaster had the tall task of taking down the 13th-ranked doubles team in the nation in Malte Stropp and Jordan Angus. The Crimson pair stayed even with the MSU tandem, as the match was on serve through the first 12 games. With the score tied at 6-6, back-to-back big returns from Harvard saw the Crimson earn the break, leaving the hard-serving MacMaster to serve out the match. The junior did not disappoint, cracking big serves throughout the game and finishing off the 8-6 win to secure the doubles point for the Crimson.
Just as the final doubles court finished, a passing cloud doused the courts, causing a brief delay between the singles and doubles action. Singles play commenced and serves were held across most of the courts, but a second deluge forced the players off the courts and an 82-minute rain delay ensued.
When the courts finally dried, the Bulldogs grabbed the momentum and snatched the first set across all six singles courts. Dumont, facing Harvard's Nicholas Mahlangu on the sixth court, was the first to finish, drawing MSU even with a 6-3, 6-3 win. Steinroeder gave the Crimson a glimmer of hope at No. 4, emphatically taking the second set, 6-1, to force his match to a third set. The quick boost couldn't serve to buoy Andy Nguyen at No. 3, as the senior fell to singles specialist James Chaudry, 6-4, 6-2, putting MSU up 2-1 in the match.
Denis Nguyen continued to fight after dropping the first set on the top singles court and picked up a break en route to a 6-4 second-set win. Nicky Hu, playing fifth singles, picked up a huge break with the second set tied 5-5 and held serve to wrap up the set, 7-5. Just before Hu could finish, however, Shaun Chaudhuri missed a forehand wide on match point, falling 6-2, 6-4 to No. 57 Malte Stropp in a battle of the baseliners. Before Nguyen and Hu could start their third sets, Jordan Angus polished off a three-set win over Steinroeder at fourth singles, clinching the match for the hosts with a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 win.
No. 10 Mississippi State 4, No. 27 Harvard 1
1. Denis Nguyen/Casey MacMaster (HU) def. No. 13 Malte Stropp/Jordan Angus (MSU) 8-6
2. Ethan Wilkinson/Pedro Dumont (MSU) def. Andy Nguyen/Nicky Hu (HU) 8-3
3. Kelvin Lam/Alex Steinroeder (HU) def. Romain Bogaerts/Zach White (MSU) 8-5
1. No. 6 Romain Bogaerts (MSU) led Denis Nguyen (HU) 6-2, 4-6, 1-0 (Suspended)
2. No. 57 Malte Stropp (MSU) def. Shaun Chaudhuri (HU) 6-2, 6-4
3. James Chaudry (MSU) def. Andy Nguyen (HU) 6-4, 6-2
4. Jordan Angus (MSU) def. Alex Steinroeder (HU) 6-2, 1-6, 6-3
5. Zach White (MSU) vs. Nicky Hu (HU) 6-4, 5-7, 0-0 (Suspended)
6. Pedro Dumont (MSU) def. Nicholas Mahlangu (HU) 6-3, 6-3