LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 52 Mississippi State tennis team gave sixth-ranked Florida a tough battle in the quarterfinals before eventually slipping up, 4-1, ending State’s run in the 2010 SEC Championship.
Florida jumped out early on the Bulldogs by claiming the doubles point. 35th-ranked Bulldog duo George Coupland and Artem Ilyushin fell, 8-2, to No. 14 Antoine Benneteau and Alex Lacroix at the No. 1 position. On court three, MSU’s Louis Cant and Chris Doerr had their five-match win streak snapped by Daniel Cash and Bob Van Overbeek of Florida, 8-3.
In singles, the Bulldogs’ Coupland, who ranks 109th nationally, gave fifth-ranked Lacroix of the Gators a tough battle at the No. 1 spot before eventually falling, 6-2, 6-4, giving Florida a 2-0 lead.
On court six, MState’s sophomore Max Gregor dropped the opening set, 6-2, to Sekou Bangoura, Jr., of the Gators, and held a 3-2 lead before dropping four-straight games to lose the match and give the Gators a 3-0 lead.
MSU got on the scoreboard at the No. 3 position, where Bulldog sophomore Ilyushin won a straight-set decision over Florida’s Benneteau, 6-3, 7-6(5).
Despite a set lead and being up, 4-2, in the second set, MSU’s Sanchez slipped up in 10-straight games, falling to the Gators’ Nassim Slilam at the No. 5 spot, snapping a four-match win streak for Sanchez.
State’s 62nd-ranked Cant and Antonio Lastre both took their matches to three sets when play was suspended after Florida clinched the match, 4-1.
“Florida played a great match, they have a really good team but I thought our guys fought hard,” said head coach Per Nilsson. “We were obviously in the match but losing the doubles made it difficult for us. I am really proud of Artem (Ilyushin), he did a good job winning his match while we had three other guys playing in third sets.”
The Bulldogs now await their fate for the 2010 NCAA Team Championship. Selections for the 2010 field will be announced May 4.
#6 FLORIDA 4, #52 MISSISSIPPI STATE 1
Lexington, Ky. – 4/23/10
No. 1 – #14 Antoine Benneteau/Alex Lacroix (Florida) def. #35 George Coupland/Artem Ilyushin (MSU) 8-2; No. 2 – Daniel Sancehz/Tanner Stump (MSU) vs. #51 Sekou Bangoura Jr./Joey Burkhardt (Florida) 4-5, susp; No. 3 – Daniel Cash/Bob Van Overbeek (Florida) def. Louis Cant/Chris Doerr (MSU) 8-3; (Order of Finish: 3,1).
No. 1 – #5 Lacroix (Florida) def. #109 Coupland (MSU) 6-2, 6-4; No. 2 – #62 Cant (MSU) vs. #113 Burkhardt (Florida) 6-4, 3-6, 0-4, susp.; No. 3 – Ilyushin (MSU) def. Benneteau (Florida) 6-3, 7-6(5); No. 4 – Antonio Lastre (MSU) vs. Van Overbeek (Florida) 3-6, 6-1, 3-4, susp.; No. 5 – Nassim Slilam (Florida) def. Sanchez (MSU) 3-6, 6-4, 6-0; No. 6 – Bangoura Jr. (Florida) def. Max Gregor (MSU) 6-2, 6-3; (Order of Finish: 1,6,3,5).