A scream, fist pumps and handshakes are all signs of a bulldogs victory as Trevor Foshey, a senior from St. Cloud, Florida, celebrated the doubles winning point on court number three in the SEC championship as it was the first of the 4-1 points Mississippi State University would win.
The doubles point is crucial to tennis matches as it is often the determining factor in momentum of a match as the team who wins doubles only has to win three singles matches and not four.
MSU head coach Matt Roberts said they had made some changes coming into the match against the University of Tennessee in regards to their doubles play.
“We had to adjust a little bit,” Roberts said. “We had to adjust our doubles warm up, and I think we came out and played a little bit cleaner in doubles.”
In singles, the Bulldogs struggled starting out but came back on courts one, two and four changing the momentum of the match as the Dawgs were able to win 4-1 over Tennessee.
Roberts said that the way the team fought and never backed down from the challenge of winning was shown in how the team swung the match into the Bulldogs favor.
“The way they competed today, as a team, nobody backed down,” Roberts said. “We trusted ourselves, emotionally calm. Good mental endurance and mental fortitude out there. Lots of resiliency out there, so proud of these guys.”
One of those players who posed the mental toughness to not let losing the first set affect their game was Nuno Borges. Borges, a senior from Maia, Portugal, is not only a veteran but also the best player in MSU history as he broke the record for career wins at 178 wins.
After clinching the match winning point, Borges sat down and was hugged by his coach on the bench. Roberts said he had faith that Borges would continue to battle and that’s exactly what he did.
“You feel really comfortable with him he just competes really well,” Roberts said. “He can problem solve and figure things out and put together a game plan. That helped him out.”
Roberts said he was impressed with how Borges rebounded and won his team the point to clinch the match for the Bulldogs. The win meant the target the team carried on their backs as defending SEC champions remained unscathed.
This victory marked the first back to back SEC tournament champion in school history. It is also, per Bill Martin, an associate athletic director, the fifth SEC regular season or tournament title won by MSU in the past 14 months.
The third SEC championship, 1996, 2018 and 2019, by the men’s tennis program is a product of a culture at MSU where Roberts has brought a focused culture and approach to the game.
“We’ve said all year long, it’s about the root and not the fruit, and we stayed focused on that,” Roberts said. “We live in the moment, we try to get better every week and trust the process. Going into this week, we were really committed to the root. That’s our culture, and it paid off today.”
MSU will start their journey to win the national championship that continues to elude the Bulldogs on May 3-5 in the first and second rounds of play.