No. 24 Mississippi State Squeaks By No. 54 Memphis, 4-3
Feb. 5, 2003
STARKVILLE, Miss. - It came down to the No. 3 singles match between Mississippi State's (3-1) Max Fomine and Memphis' (1-1) Alex Bucewicz in a non-conference clash in Starkville, Miss., Wednesday. Fomine broke Bucewicz' serve in the second set tiebreaker to go up 9-8, and served up the Bulldog 4-3 win with his 6-1, 7-6 victory at the No. 3 singles spot.
The Bulldogs came back from an 0-1 deficit after the Tigers used some come-from-behind wins in tiebreakers to sweep the doubles point. The No. 12 ranked team of Ben Stapp and Lee Taylor Walker won their No. 1 doubles match, 8-5, while the No. 2 team of Joe Schmulian and Alex Bucewicz came back from a 3-1 deficit to force a tiebreaker, winning 9-8 (2). The No. 3 freshman duo of Alex Jago and Brendan Malarkey were also down early, 2-0, before breaking back to force a tiebreaker in their match, winning 9-8 (5).
But the Bulldogs quickly tied it up at 1-1 as No. 76 Rene-Charles Combette, playing his first singles match of the season due to off-season injuries, was moved down to play the No. 5 spot in the line-up where he faced Tiger freshman Brendan Malarkey. Combette downed Malarkey in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1, to post his first win of the season.
The score swung to 2-1 MSU when Romain Ambert swept Ben Stapp at No. 1 singles, 6-2, 6-2 to improve his career record to 22-5 at the top singles spot. But Memphis battled back to knot it back up at 2-2 when freshman Alex Jago picked up a straight set win over Matt Armstrong, 6-2, 6-3 at No. 6. But that momentum was short-lived, as Jerome Le Belicard upended No. 118 ranked Lee Taylor Walker at No. 2, 6-2, 6-2 to give MSU a 3-2 lead. Memphis senior Joe Schmulian successfully swung the momentum back when he picked up his second win of the season at No. 4, downing Florent Girod, 6-4, 6-4.
The Tigers fall to 1-1 on the season and will continue their difficult road trip this weekend. The Tigers, who are in the midst of playing 12 straight matches on the road, will face two more nationally-ranked opponents this weekend, starting with No. 49 Indiana State. The Sycamores will be opening their homestand against the Tigers at 2 p.m., Friday, before Memphis travels to No. 45 Indiana, Saturday, for a 2 p.m. contest. Memphis will finish the three matches in three days weekend with a Conference USA match at Saint Louis, Sunday, at 3 p.m.
No. 24 Mississippi State 4, No. 54 Memphis 3