By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – The biggest weekend of the year for Mississippi State is the perfect setting for a big event.
Super Bulldog Weekend kicks off today, and this year that includes the SEC Men’s Tennis Tournament, which MSU is hosting. The Bulldogs, seeded No. 3 after capturing a second consecutive Western Division title, will open play Friday against the Alabama-Tennessee winner.
The campus will be packed with fans who are coming out to watch baseball and spring football, and tennis coach Per Nilsson hopes several of them find their way to the Pitts Tennis Center.
“Who doesn’t want to play in front of people?” he said. “Especially in tennis, you don’t play in front of a lot of people unless you make it to the very top, which is on TV. … When they come here or Georgia or some of the other schools that get big crowds, it’s awesome, and they love it.”
Leading the way
The Bulldogs, led by Artem Ilyushin and Malte Stroppe, went 9-2 in SEC play this season, capping it with a win over rival Ole Miss last weekend. That earned MSU a slightly better seed, and Nilsson likes his team’s place in the bracket.
If State can win its quarterfinal match, it would probably face No. 2 seed Georgia in the semifinals and wouldn’t meet No. 1 Kentucky before Sunday’s championship match.
MSU lost to both Georgia and Kentucky during the regular season, and both were on the road. The Bulldogs were 5-0 in SEC home matches.
“If we don’t show up, we can lose to anyone,” Nilsson said. “That’s the thing about our team, if we play well we can beat anyone, but if we don’t play well we can lose to some teams that we feel we are better than.”
Ole Miss, the No. 5 seed, will play No. 12 Arkansas at 5 p.m. today.
Women in Oxford
While the men are in Starkville, the women will be playing in Oxford at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.
Ole Miss got a first-round bye and will face the Vanderbilt-Mississippi State winner on Friday at 3 p.m.
State plays today at 3 p.m.