ATLANTA--On the court for just more than 11 hours on Sunday, the No. 71-ranked Georgia State men's tennis team split a doubleheader on its final day at the Sun Belt Shoot-Out in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
The second seed GSU (17-4) lost a narrow 4-3 match to host and third seed Middle Tennessee State in the morning before taking a 4-3 win vs. fifth seed DePaul in the evening. MTSU won the tournament title by upsetting No. 57-ranked South Alabama 4-0 in the finals.
Both of Georgia State's matches began with singles play and proceeded to doubles when the score was tied 3-3. Junior Lucas Santana and freshman Jose Ortiz, playing as a doubles pair for the first time, clinched GSU's win over DePaul. The two took an 8-5 victory in the No. 3 doubles match vs. DePaul (11-11) senior Matija Palinic and freshman Adam Reinhart.
"Both matches today started with singles and finished with an exciting doubles point to decide the match," Georgia State third-year head coach Chase Hodges said, "We picked up valuable experience this weekend which will pay off for us later this season."
#71 Georgia State 4, DePaul 3
Freshman Ismael Lahlou gave the Panthers the early 1-0 lead with a 6-2, 6-1 victory at No. 5 singles over Palinic. He improved his singles record to 13-5 on the season.
After Georgia State fell behind 2-1, junior Victor Valente evened the match up with a 6-2, 7-5 win in the No. 1 singles match over Filip Dzanko. Valente, the No. 14-ranked player in the ITA Southeast Singles rankings, is now 14-3 this season.
Santana followed Valente's victory with a 6-3, 6-3 triumph in the No. 6 singles slot. The junior defeated Reinhart of DePaul to earn his 41st career singles victory and tie the match at three.
The match advanced to doubles play where Georgia State secured the victory. Senior Juan Pablo Gutierrez and Valente began doubles play by taking an 8-4 win in the No. 2 position. The duo improved to 5-1 on the season with the win over DePaul's Mathias Hambach and Sven Kasper. Santana and Ortiz's match-clinching victory followed.
"We feel good about finishing the event with a solid win over a talented DePaul team," Hodges said.
#71 Georgia State 3, MTSU 4
Trailing 1-0 early, Valente evened the match up with a 6-3, 7-5 victory in the No. 2 singles slot. He grabbed his victory over freshman Christoph Lang.
Gutierrez followed with a 6-4, 6-2 win in the No. 5 singles slot to give Georgia State a 2-1 lead. He defeated MTSU freshman Forrest Edwards.
Lahlou grabbed a clutch victory in the No. 6 singles slot with GSU trailing 3-2 to force the match into doubles play. The Casablanca, Morocco, native took a 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 win against MTSU (11-6) sophomore Dimitri Pippos.
Gutierrez and Valente earned GSU's lone doubles victory with an 8-3 triumph in the No. 3 position against senior Matthew Langley and freshman Ettore Zito.
Georgia State returns home to host an important weekend slate beginning on Friday. The Panthers take on Presbyterian at 1 p.m. at the Sharon Lester Tennis Center on Friday before battling conference-rival UNC Wilmington on Sunday. Visit the men's tennis page on www.GeorgiaStateSports.com for a preview of both matches.