COLLEGE STATION, Texas – After nearly a month of playing on the road in hostile territory, the 19th-ranked Texas A&M men’s tennis team returns home to begin a four-match homestand in the friendly confines of the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center with Old Dominion on Thursday, March 6 at 6 p.m. and in-state rival TCU on Saturday, March 8 at 11:30 a.m.
“Obviously, returning home to play in front of the 12th Man will help a lot,” said second-year Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton whose team went 1-4 in their recent road swing through ACC and SEC country. “We will be playing in a friendly setting and our guys like our courts. It has been a month since we’ve got to play on them, so they are excited to play at home in front of our home crowd.”
The Aggies (4-4) will put their undefeated 2-0 home record to the test with the Monarchs (15-9) and Horned Frogs (9-1) this weekend. With a recent 4-3 upset of No. 10 Duke on Feb. 29, A&M climbed six spots to No. 19 in the latest ITA/FILA Collegiate Tennis Rankings released on Tuesday. The Aggies are the third-highest ranked Big 12 Conference school behind rival Texas and Baylor. Individually, junior Conor Pollock (San Antonio, Texas) is ranked No. 31 nationally in singles and boasts a 5-3 mark in dual match play. Meanwhile, Pollock and freshman Austin Krajicek (Brandon, Fla.) are ranked No. 40 nationally in doubles.
ODU, ranked No. 63 in the ITA Rankings, has yet to defeat a top 20-ranked team this season with losses to No. 20 Wake Forest (6-1) on Jan. 27, No. 13 Rice (5-2) on Feb. 16, No. 18 VCU (4-1) on Feb. 20 and top-ranked Virginia (7-0) on Feb. 23. They will face the Longhorns on Wednesday in Austin prior to Thursday’s first-ever meeting with the Aggies in College Station.
“Old Dominion is a solid team,” Denton said. “They have been ranked in the top 30 this season and have some really good players. I expect a really hard-fought match. They are coming in here with nothing to lose and that makes them dangerous.”
Historically, TCU and A&M have been regional rivals since the all-time series first began in 1978. The Horned Frogs may hold a 31-9 advantage in the series, but the Aggies have won three of the last five meetings between the two schools including a 6-1 victory in Fort Worth a year ago. TCU, ranked No. 29 in the ITA rankings, has three players ranked in singles including No. 21-ranked Cosmin Cotet. He is joined by teammates Adrian Simon and Zach Nichols who are ranked No. 115 and No. 122 respectively. Denton will reunite with two of his former Junior Davis Cup Team players in Nichols and Jack Seider.
“TCU is a scary team this season,” Denton said. “They have improved and have beaten some really good teams including Texas Tech which in my opinion, is a top 20 team this year. They are very well-coached and are probably looking forward to playing us after we beat them at home last year.”
Watch Tennis, Walk In Style…The first 200 A&M students who attend Thursday night’s dual match against Old Dominion will receive a free pair of Aggie Crocs. First serve between the Aggies and Monarchs is set for 6 p.m. at the Mitchell Center.
Where’s Wilson? Promotion...Wilson is the newest teammate to the Texas A&M men’s and women’s tennis teams. Wilson, a smiling tennis ball, will be hiding at every home match this season at the Mitchell Tennis Center. One lucky fan who finds him will receive a pair of Crocs compliments of Texas A&M University and will be entered into a grand prize contest that will be held during the women’s Lone Star Showdown match versus rival Texas on April 16. Fans are encouraged to come out to the matches early to increase their chances of being the first person to find Wilson.