STARKVILLE — Sitting on the fence can sometimes be a lonely place, but Louis Cant has company.
The Mississippi State singles tennis player is one of eight alternates hoping to make it into the 64-player NCAA tournament field for today”s NCAA Singles Championships at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga.
Cant, the third alternate, is hopeful for a replay of 2008 when seven alternates made the field instead of last season when two made the field.
It”s possible Cant won”t know if he”s made the field until an hour before a match.
“It”s really tough,” Cant said. “I really want to make it and it”s really great to stay here as well because I get the practice opportunities. Otherwise, I would have gone home already. I get to practice with the coaches and my teammates. We just keep working. I hope to make it.”
Cant, a sophomore who is ranked 63rd nationally, took over the No. 1 singles spot after playing primarily in the four or five role for the Bulldogs last season.
Cant went 24-11 with a 10-7 dual mark this season, posting four wins against ranked opponents and two against Top 25 players.
“I will say, every match is really close and there”s battle all the time,” Cant say of moving to the No. 1 spot. “I still have to learn a lot to beat every guy, but I”ve done a good job, I think.”
An area Cant and Mississippi State coach Per Nilsson believe will help in the NCAA tournament is Cant”s strong return game. Players from the northern part of country are noted for having strong serves from playing indoors.
Cant has been working on his own serve to compliment his backline play should he get in the tournament.
“It”s one of the strongest points so that”s why I need to improve my serve,” Cant said of his returns. “My return, I break all the time so if I can hold my serve easily I will win many more matches.
“I”m working on a big serve and mid-court forehands to hit winners in those. My strongest point now is I”m real strong from the back. I just want to be better attacking.”
Nilsson is itching for Cant to break into the tournament because of the player”s current run of form. He also believes Cant would match up well with a player who has a big serve.
“He”d probably enjoy playing the one seed right away. He”ll be ready to go,” Nilsson said. “I promise you there”s not one kid in that draw who”d want to play him. His style is really difficult to play against and he”s playing really well right now, so it would be awesome to get him in. He can do some damage and no one wants to play him. In 95 degree weather playing Louis, that”s no fun.”
Cant is aiming to be the first Bulldog to play in the NCAA tournament since 2008. If he makes it in, he”ll be the 48th MSU player to make the field.
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