SEC tennis play started back Friday in Baton Rouge as Louisiana State University hosted Mississippi State University, Arkansas and Texas A&M at the LSU Invitational. Six returning players and one new Bulldog represented MSU this weekend, bringing along upset wins and two appearances in the singles finals.
MSU's Florian Broska and Nicolas Ocana, the No.2 seed, beat LSU's Tomas Descarrega and Tom Pisane 8-4 on Friday night. Alberto Colas and Gregor Ramskogler lost a hard-fought match 8-6 to Texas A&M's Guido Marson and Pierce Rollins. Rounding out doubles play was MSU's rookie Nemanja Malesevic and Stedman Strickland, when they went down swinging in a tiebreak loss to Arkansas' Hunter Harrison and Maxim Verboven.
Davide Tortora and Ramskogler both advanced to the semifinals in the Tiger Draw after the two Bulldogs won in upsets over seeded players in their respective matches. Ramskogler started singles action off by breezing past Arkansas' Avery Zavala 6-1, 6-4 then took down the third-seeded Aggie Barnaby Smith 6-1, 7-6(5). Tortora won a marathon battle against LSU's Nick Watson in a 6-4, 6-7(6), 6,2 win, then ousted the No.1 seed Valentin Vacherot from Texas A&M 7-6(7), 6-4. Vacherot was the No.3 ranked singles player in the nation when the COVID-19 epidemic ended collegiate play.
The Bulldogs continued to notch wins on Friday as in the Purple Draw. Malesevic, after a first round bye, won his first singles match as a Bulldog when he beat Harrison 6-1, 6-3. Colas followed Malesevic's lead and took down Melvin Manuel 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3 and advanced to the quarterfinals but then fell to top-seeded A&M's Hady Habin. Broska, the No.2 seed, lost his only singles match Friday to the Aggie Pierce Rollins 6-4, 6-4.
The Gold Draw ended action on Friday after Bulldog Ocana pulled out a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win over LSU's Ben Koch, before losing to top seeded Carlos Aguilar from A&M in a 6-2, 6-1 bout in the quarterfinals. Strickland fell to Verboven 6-2, 6-2 and then lost to another Razorback, Josh Bortnick, in a consolation match.
Day two started off with doubles action as second-seeded Bulldog tandem of Broska and Ocana beat the duo of Habib and Stefan Storch 8-6. State would go on to lose 8-5 in the semifinals to Ronnie Hohmann and Rafael Wagner of LSU. Malesevic and Strickland made it to the quarterfinals but lost a hard-fought 8-5 match to LSU's Malik Bhatnager and Koch. Consolation doubles followed up the action as Colas and Ramskogler skated through their match against the Razerback duo of Bortnick and Foster Rogers in an 8-0 win. The Bulldog tandem would go on to lose 8-4 to A&M's Habib and Storch. Malsevic and Strickland dropped an 8-4 match to Morson and Rollins from A&M. MSU's Tortora paired with LSU's Tom Pisane, but the split team ended up falling short to Arkansas' Aleska Bucan and Rousset 8-5.
In Saturday's Tiger Draw, freshman Tortora and sophmore Ramskogler both advanced to the finals with outstanding wins in the semifinals. Tortora battled hard for three sets in a close 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1 victory over Texas A&M's Perot, and Ramskogler shut out Rousset in a dominant 6-3, 6-1 win.
There was only one Bulldog in Saturday's Purple Draw. The true freshman and No.3 seed Malsevic fought hard but ultimately fell short in the semifinals to the top-seeded Habib.
MSU had four singles consolation matches to end the day. Bulldog junior Broska would go on to fall short, as he dropped a close 2-6, 7-6(4) to Vacherot. Colas scored a win as he triumphed over Koch 6-2, 6-4 but would go on to lose a close match to Arkansas' Manuel. Strickland ended the day with a loss to Rogers.
Sunday started again with doubles. MSU's duo of Broska and Ocana defeated Bhatnagar and Koch in an 8-3 bout. Malesvic and Strickland teamed up and fought hard for an 8-6 victory against the tandem of Bortnick and Rogers. Schachater and Vacherot got the best of Colas and Ramskogler in a hard fought 8-6 loss.
Two Bulldogs played in the singles championship on Sunday. Tortora battled Schachater in the Gold Draw championship, falling 6-0, 6-2 to the Aggie. Ramskogler took on Aguilar, also falling in the championship.
Ending play in the tournament on Sunday, the Bulldogs played in five consolidation matches. Malsevic took down Vacherot in an impressive 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 triumph. Ocana breezed past Harrison in a 6-4, 6-2 win, while Broska dropped a tight match to Smith in a close 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 6-4 loss. Strickland also fell to Zavala with a 6-3, 6-2 loss. Ending Sunday's consolidation play was Colas, where he retired against Rousset after losing the first set 6-1.
The Bulldogs will now prepare to host the Bulldog Challenge beginning Oct. 23 and ending the 25th in their second of three scheduled tournaments this fall.