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Men's Tennis Opens Conference Championships Against Northwestern
Sophomore Denis Bogatov will represent the Spartans at the No. 1 singles spot.
Sophomore Denis Bogatov will represent the Spartans at the No. 1 singles spot.

April 27, 2011

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EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State men's tennis team opens the Big Ten Championship on Thursday, April 28 when it faces the ninth-seeded Wildcats of Northwestern at 10 a.m. The Spartans enter conference championship play as the No. 8 seed, with a 3-7 record in the Big Ten and a 17-8 mark overall, while the Wildcats are 11-12 overall and 2-8 in the conference.

2010 Big Ten Tournament
The Spartans entered the 2010 Big Ten Championship as the No. 11 seed and faced No. 44 Indiana in the first round, where they fell 4-0 to the sixth-seeded Hoosiers. MSU concluded its season with a 13-14 record and a 1-9 mark in conference matches.

Scouting the Spartans
The Spartans enter the conference championship with a 17-8 record, and a ranking of No. 50 in the ITA poll, marking the 12th consecutive week the Green and White have been ranked. MSU has been impressive in the second half of its conference schedule, winning three of its past four Big Ten matches.

Freshman Aaron Pfister has continued his impressive run in singles play, posting a 20-2 record throughout the lineup, with his only losses coming to No. 4 Ohio State and No. 18 Illinois. 19 of Pfister's 20 victories have come in straight sets.

Sophomore Denis Bogatov has paced the Spartans in the No. 1 slot with a 11-10 record in dual matches. Bogatov clinched the Spartans final regular season match against Northwestern with a hard-fought 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (5) win over Joshua Graves.

Juniors Ronnie Hulewicz and Austin Brooks have represented the Spartans in the No. 2 and 3 positions, posting a combined 20 wins in dual match singles competition.

In doubles play, senior John Stratton has recorded 14 wins at the No. 1 position, with five of them coming against Big Ten opponents. Stratton has paired with fellow senior Jason Norville for eight of those victories, five of which have come against ranked foes.

Northwestern Scouting
Northwestern enters the Big Ten Championship with an 11-12 record and a 2-8 mark in conference play. Junior Joshua Graves has represented Northwestern in the No. 1 singles position, recording a 10-12 mark in dual matches. He has paired with sophomore Spencer Wolf in the No. 1 doubles spot to earn a 14-7 record.

Last Time Out vs. Northwestern
In perhaps the most exciting match of the season, the Spartans ended the regular season against the Wildcats with a narrow 4-3 victory in which sophomore Denis Bogatov sealed the win with his victory at No. 1 singles. MSU failed to capture the doubles point, but earned four victories in singles play to post its third conference victory of the season. Freshmen Drew Lied and Aaron Pfister, as well as senior John Stratton were the other Spartans to earn victories in singles play over Northwestern.

Senior Sendoff
The Spartans celebrated their senior day against the Fighting Illini on April 11, as Jason Norville, Clark Richardson and John Stratton all competed in their final home match as Spartans. MSU has enjoyed success from each of the 2011 seniors.

Stratton has helped the Spartans in both singles and doubles play this season, posting an 21-11 record in singles and a 25-13 doubles record. For his career, Stratton has a combined 112 victories, with 59 in doubles play and the remaining 53 in singles.

Norville has paired with Stratton in doubles for the majority of this season, where they have earned eight victories in the No. 1 slot. Norville has an overall record of 61-59 in doubles matches over the past five years, and has earned 46 victories in singles play.

Clark Richardson has represented the Spartans in every doubles position and in positions two through six in singles play throughout his career. He has combined for 92 victories during his career, with 43 in singles and 49 in doubles competition.

Academic Excellence
The MSU men's tennis team was recently recognized at the SASS Gala held on April 11, rewarding student-athletes on their academic and athletic achievement.

The Spartan tennis team received the Athletic Director's Award, which is given to the male and female team with the highest cumulative team grade-point-average after the fall semester. The men's tennis program posted a 3.439 cumulative team GPA and earned the award for a record seventh time, and their fourth in a row. Senior Clark Richardson received the Scholar-Athlete Award, which is given to the member of each team with the highest GPA.

Next Up
With a victory over Northwestern, MSU would move into the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Championship and face No. 1 seed Ohio State on Friday, April 29 at 11 a.m. ET. The Buckeyes are 27-2 on the season and a perfect 10-0 in conference play.




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