Alcorn State excels at SWAC East meet|[03/24/07]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 24, 2007

The first day of the Southwestern Athletic Conference Eastern Division Tournament saw one big upset in the 10 head-to-head team matches played Friday at the Halls Ferry Park tennis courts.

Jackson State’s Lady Tigers (14-1) upended SWAC favorites Alabama A&M 4-3 Friday morning. JSU followed up the upset by beating Alabama State Friday night to go to 2-0 in the five-team tournament.

JSU coach Niji Olagbegi was elated with the victory.

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&#8220We did very well to beat them. We were the underdogs,” Olagbegi said.

Jackson State’s only loss this season was to Southern University in the SWAC Crossover Tournament earlier in the year.

&#8220Southern beat us and Alabama A&M had beaten Southern so we felt that A&M may have had the best team in the conference. But today shows that we can now win the championship,” Olagbegi said.

Alcorn State’s Lady Braves finished the day with a 1-1 mark and faces a challenge to be one of the three teams in the women’s field to qualify for the overall SWAC Tournament next month in Alexandria, La.

The Lady Braves lost a tough 4-3 match to Alabama A&M Friday afternoon. Alcorn (6-9) came back to defeat Mississippi Valley State Friday night.

Alcorn State coach Tony Dodgen said Jackson State’s upset of A&M means his team must beat either Alabama State or Jackson State today in the final day of the tournament to advance.

&#8220No one expected Jackson State to beat A&M, but they played a good match and they are really playing well right now. If we could beat them and Alabama State, we have a chance at a top seed,” Dodgen said.

The Lady Braves had a shot to make it an 0-2 day for the A&M Lady Bulldogs.

&#8220We lost the doubles point and that hurt us because we wound up splitting the six singles matches. We won at No. 1, 3 and 6 and lost No. 2, 4 and 5. We just let it get away.”

The Alcorn State men rolled through Alabama A&M’s men 7-0 and then had Mississippi Valley pretty well in hand with just the No. 2 men’s match to be decided.

Against A&M, the Braves (7-7) lost only two games.

&#8220We ran through them pretty easily,” Dodgen said.

Jackson State’s men defeated Alabama A&M 7-0 and Alabama State 7-0 to go 2-0 on the day. The Tigers (10-4) are expected to battle the Braves for the East Division crown in tonight’s featured showdown at 6.

In the day’s other matches, Alabama State defeated Valley in both men’s and women’s action.