ATHENS, Ga. – The Mississippi State men’s tennis team’s George Coupland and Artem Ilyushin fell in the first round of the NCAA Championship in doubles to 13th-ranked Aleksey Bessenov and Oleksandr Nedovyesov of Oklahoma State, in a tight three-set battle, 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-2.
It was the 29th-ranked Bulldog tandem’s first career-postseason appearance, as Coupland and Ilyushin swapped serves with the Cowboy duo in the first set, before eventually claiming a tiebreaker decision, 7-4, to give MSU the early advantage.
The second set occurred in similar fashion of the first set. MState was merely two points away from clinching the match while holding a 5-4 lead, before the Cowboys broke back to even the score and eventually win the second set, 7-5.
Coupland and Ilyushin jumped out to an early 2-1 lead in the third set, but Oklahoma State outlasted the MSU duo and won the next five games to win the set and the match, 6-2.
“It was a close match, but I was glad that George (Coupland) and Artem (Ilyushin) were rewarded for their efforts this year with a chance to compete in this tournament,” said third-year head coach Per Nilsson. “We are excited that they both will be back next year and we are looking forward to a successful fall.”
Coupland and Ilyushin finished the 2009-10 campaign with a 20-12 mark. The loss concluded the season for the Maroon and White, but the Bulldogs return seven from a team that just missed out on the NCAA Championship this year.