HOUSTON – As befitting a match pitting the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds, the Friday opener between California and Mississippi State at the ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championships came down to the wire. The 11th-ranked Golden Bears trailed 1-0 early after falling in doubles to the ninth-ranked Bulldogs, but the Bears forged a 3-1 lead thanks to their early success in singles. MSU eked out a 3-3 tie, and the court five match between Cal’s Gregory Bayane and Mississippi State’s Rishab Agarwal became the decider.
Bayane lost a close first set in the tiebreaker, 5-6(6). He bounced back to take the second set, 6-2, and force the third. The experienced junior then wrapped up the overall match when he beat the Bulldog freshman, 6-3, at the Galleria Tennis Athletic Club, one of two venues for the indoor event.
Cal (6-0) advances to the quarterfinals to play top-seeded and top-ranked defending champion Virginia (5-0) on Saturday. The Bears meet the Cavaliers at 1 p.m. PT/3 p.m. CT tomorrow at the Downtown Club at the Met. Mississippi State (8-1) next plays Notre Dame (7-2) – a 4-2 loser to UVa on Friday – in the consolation bracket on Saturday.
In Friday’s doubles, Mississippi State and Cal split matches on courts one and two to make court three the deciding match. First, the Cal duo of senior Ben McLachlan and freshman Andre Goransson fell to the 55th-ranked Jordan Angus/Malte Stropp, 6-3, on one. Bayane and junior Chase Melton evened matters with a 6-2 victory over Florian Lakat/Tassilo Schmid on two. Cal had its chances to clinch doubles in a tight court-three match, but the Bears’ team of senior Campbell Johnson and freshman Filip Bergevi fell to Agarwal/Zach White, 6-5(5).
MSU took a 1-0 lead into singles.
Goransson, ranked No. 118 in singles, recorded his 16th win of the season and tied the overall match at 1-1 by beating White, 6-2, 6-2, on court four. Bergevi followed with his sixth-straight win – a 6-2, 6-4 victory over No. 115 Angus on court three – to lift Cal to a 2-1 advantage. Johnson, ranked No. 68, gave Cal a 3-1 lead by topping No. 49 Stropp, 6-4, 6-3, on court two.
McLachlan, ranked 62nd, opened his court-one match by blanking No. 52 Lakat, 6-0. But the Bulldog won the second on a tiebreaker, and the Cal senior wound up losing the match, 0-6, 6-5(4), 6-3. Another three-set loss for Cal on court six – sophomore Mads Engsted fell to Schmid, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 – made the score 3-3, before Bayane’s heroics secured the win for Cal.
“Mississippi State kept the pressure on us all match,” Cal head coach Peter Wright said. “I have to give our guys credit for keeping their composure through some challenging situations. Lots of credit to Gregory Bayane, who played his best tennis when his match became the decider.”
No. 8/11 California (6-0) vs. No. 9/9 Mississippi State (8-1) – 4-3