Gamecocks Drop Hard-Fought 4-2 Decision to No. 13 Bulldogs
April 5, 2013
STARKVILLE, Miss. - No. 20 South Carolina came within points of its first top-15 win since 2009, but fell 4-2 at No. 13 Mississippi State. The Gamecocks (15-8, 5-4 SEC) won the doubles point and took three of the six singles matches to three sets in the fight for the victory. The Bulldogs' two nationally ranked players stepped up to seal the win in their third sets at the top of the singles lineup, though. Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov set the tone in doubles with a commanding win over the 15th-ranked team in the country, while sophomore Kyle Koch kept his perfect SEC singles record.
"Our guys battled like the warriors they are, but we just came up short," South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. "We missed a few opportunities to consolidate breaks early in first sets because we weren't comfortable leading in a few spots. But I have to hand it to Mississippi State. They competed hard for 4-1/2 hours, and it came down to the wire like a match between two good teams should."
The Gamecocks were ready for battle right out of the gates. South Carolina's top doubles team of Cox and Mihov, ranked No. 21 in the nation, steamrolled past the nation's 15th-ranked duo of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp. On the other courts, the No. 2 match was knotted at 5-5 and the No. 3 team of Thiago Pinheiro and Andrew Adams were down a break at 4-6. While the Bulldogs surged ahead 7-6 in the No. 2 match, Pinheiro and Adams were mounting a charge, winning four of the next five games to get back on serve at 8-7. Mississippi State won the No. 2 match, leaving the doubles point to the bottom of the line, where Pedro Dumont and Ethan Wilkinson held serve and forced a tiebreak. Pinheiro/Adams kept the pressure up, establishing a 5-3 lead that yielded a 7-4 win in the tiebreak.
Singles got off to a difficult start for most of the Gamecocks, but Cox and Kyle Koch established early breaks in the Nos. 4 and 5 matches. The other four matches saw the Bulldogs up a service break early, but Adams and Pinheiro were working on comebacks. While Dumont posted a 6-2 first-set win over Harry Menzies in the No. 6 match, Koch remained up a break and Adams was back on serve in the No. 2 contest. As Mihov dropped his first set to No. 20 Romain Bogaerts, Adams surged ahead 5-3 and Pinheiro and Cox were headed to tiebreaks. Adams and Koch closed out their first sets 6-3 and 7-5, respectively, but both the tiebreaks went to the Bulldogs, putting Mississippi State up a set in four of the six matches.
Just after the other five first sets were decided, the Bulldogs leveled the match at 1-1 with a win in the No. 6 contest. The Gamecocks had plenty of fight left, though, with Mihov, Pinheiro and Koch going up early in their second sets. Koch finished off Zach White 6-2 in the No. 5 match to put South Carolina back up 2-1, Stropp, ranked 50th in the nation, battled back to win the second set against Adams, who dropped his serve to open the third set. Mihov and Pinheiro forced third sets in their matches just as Mississippi State again drew even with a win from Angus in the No. 4 match over Cox - 7-6 (7), 6-3.
With Adams battling to keep pace with Stropp in the No. 2 match, Pinheiro and Chaudry were trading service breaks early in their third set on Court 3. The Gamecock sophomore consolidated his second break with his first hold of the set to go up 3-1 just as Mihov fell behind Bogaerts by a break a 1-3. Stropp served for the match on Court 2, but Adams broke his serve to stay alive, leveling his third set at 5-5. The Bulldog junior broke right back and went on to hold his serve to win the set 7-5 and give his team a 3-2 edge with just two matches left on court.
Pinheiro maintained his one-break lead on Court 3, but Bogaerts had Mihov down a pair of breaks and was serving for the match at 5-1. South Carolina's junior transfer fought off his opponent's first attempt to clinch the team victory with a hard-fought service break and held his serve to make it a 5-3 set. Mihov continued to pressure the Bulldog freshman, turning a Love-40 deficit into a break point. Bogaerts stayed the course, though, holding off Mihov to win the third set 6-3 and clinch the team victory for Mississippi State. Pinheiro was up 5-3 in his third set when play was suspended.
The Gamecocks will travel to Oxford, Miss., to face No. 7 Ole Miss on Sun., April 7, at 2 p.m. South Carolina then returns to Carolina Tennis Center for its final two matches of the regular-season next Friday and Sunday.
#13 Mississippi State 4, #20 South Carolina 2Doubles (Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3*)
1. (21) Chip Cox/Tsvetan Mihov (SC) def. (15) Jordan Angus/Malte Stropp (MSU) 8-1
2. Romain Bogaerts/Zach White (MSU) def. (55) Kyle Koch / Harry Menzies (SC) 8-6
3. Thiago Pinheiro/Andrew Adams (SC) def. Pedro Dumont/Ethan Wilkinson (MSU) 9-8 (4)
Singles (Order of Finish: 6, 5, 4, 2, 1*)