Artem Ilyushin makes a return for the MSU men's tennis team during Friday's NCAA Regional action at Pitts Tennis Center. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)
The 9th-ranked Mississippi State menâ€™s tennis team made quick work in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday and look to a test from a much tougher opponent in today's second round.
The Bulldogs picked up a 4-0 victory over Alcorn State at Pitts Tennis Centre and now face the No. 25 ranked Baylor Bears.
"We are really excited to have made it to the second round," said MSU head coach Per Nilsson. "Baylor is going to be a tough opponent so we will really have to work hard."
It took the Bulldogs (20-6) just 35 minutes to earn the doubles point with two 8-0 wins from the pairing of Louis Cant/Malte Stropp and Zach White/Ethan Wilkinson. That gave MSU the 1-0 advantage.
In singles, the Bulldogs continued to apply pressure to the Braves with White downing Garry Amor 6-0, 6-0 in the No. 5 position and taking the 2-0 lead. Senior Cant gave MSU the 3-0 lead with a 6-2, 6-0 win on court four.
The Bulldogs advanced to the second round with a win from Wilkinson in the No. 6 position by taking the match 6-3, 6-2 and giving State the 4-0 victory.
â€śJust before the match coach (Nilsson) came out and told me he would give me an opportunity (Friday) and Iâ€™m grateful for that,â€ť Wilkinson said. â€śWeâ€™ve been working on it since I got here in January and thatâ€™s serve-volley to get to the net as quickly as I can.â€ť
Wilkinson, who played well in his doubles match with White, received his opportunity in singles when Nilsson opted to rest Stropp who injured his groin two weeks ago in the SEC Championship.
â€śHe knew he would play a couple of days ago and it was a great opportunity to help him get a match in,â€ť Nilsson said. â€śWe were smiling a little bit there at the end that he was trying to hurry up
and finish his match.â€ť
With the match sealed for MSU, all others matches were suspended with the Bulldogs owning commanding leads on each of the courts.
State looks to advance beyond the second round for the first time since 2001 and to get there, it must defeat a Baylor squad who discarded the University of Memphis 4-1 in the first match of the day.
â€śItâ€™s going to be a lot of fun and itâ€™s great that we got to host," MSU's James Chaudry said. "Afterall, I think we earned it with how we played throughout the year."
Second round action begins at 10 a.m. at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. The time has been moved up four hours due to the forecast for inclement weather in the afternoon.Â
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