COLLEGE STATION, Texas- The No. 19 Texas A&M men’s tennis team topped No. 29 TCU in dramatic fashion by edging the Horned Frogs, 4-3, Saturday afternoon at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
A&M (6-4) improved to an undefeated 5-0 at home as senior Matt Bain (Georgetown, Texas) used veteran poise to pull off a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 three-set victory over TCU’s Zach Nichols at the No. 5 line. In the last match standing, Bain handed Nichols, ranked No. 122 nationally, his first loss of the season after a perfect 11-0 start for the Horned Frogs (10-2).
“It was a great day,” Bain said. “We are a really tight-knit team. Win or lose, I know my teammates have my back. It was a blast to go out there and win it for them. We had a lot of fans behind us today and it was a really exciting match. That’s what college athletics is all about. I’m glad I was the one today, but it was a really big team effort.”
The Aggies won four of six singles after dropping the doubles point. Junior Conor Pollock (San Antonio, Texas) got things going by defeating TCU’s top player and No. 21-ranked Cosmin Cotet for the second-straight year in the A&M-TCU series. Pollock, ranked No. 31 nationally, picked up his second-straight win in the last two days on a service ace to close out the match in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3.
“It was a big win,” Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton said. “We played pretty lethargic and tentative in doubles. We didn’t play the way we were capable of playing. We knew it was going to be a hard-fought match. Give credit to TCU. What was icing on the cake was Stephen Shields’ match win on his 21st birthday. For him to be able to contribute like that, is great for him and great for our team. Matt Bain showed senior leadership and came through for us and played aggressive tennis and went for his shots. That was the difference in the match.”
Freshman Wil Spencer (Ponce de Leon, Fla.) followed with A&M’s second point of the match by winning a love game for match point which led to a 7-5, 6-3 straight-set victory over No. 115-ranked Adrian Simon at No. 3. All four remaining singles matches went into three sets including sophomore Stephen Shields (Austin, Texas) who swept TCU’s Jack Seider in his last game to break serve to put A&M up 3-2 in the match. He won a 7-4 tiebreaker in the second set which led to a 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 victory on his 21st birthday. It marked Shields’ first win of the season and fifth all-time dual match victory of his career.
“It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had in a long time to be able to win and contribute,” Shields said. “I’m not going to lie, it was very nerve racking, but I was able to pull it out. The tiebreaker gave me confidence and the crowd was unbelievable today. It was a really special day and I’m just glad we were able to win as a team.”
Pollock also combined with sophomore Chris Chirico (Philadelphia, Pa.) for A&M’s lone win in doubles play with an 8-4 result over TCU’s Emanu Brighiu and Adrian Simon. The Aggies’ No. 2 doubles duo have won their last four matches to compile an undefeated 4-0 mark this season.
A&M drew its second-largest home crowd of the season with 552 fans in attendance at the Mitchell Center. The Aggies currently rank third nationally among NCAA Division I attendance leaders averaging 445 fans per match. They had a season-high 630 fans in attendance versus Boise State on Jan. 27 which ranks as the fourth-largest crowd this season in all of college tennis.
The Aggies continue their four-match homestand with No. 20 Wake Forest on Monday, March 10 at 6 p.m. and No. 31 Indiana on Wednesday, March 12 at 6 p.m. over spring break.
(19) TEXAS A&M 4, (29) TCU 3
March 8, 2008
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
at College Station, Texas
No. 1 - (31) Conor Pollock (Texas A&M) def. (21) Cosmin Cotet (TCU), 6-2, 6-3.
No. 2 - Emanu Brighiu (TCU) def. Austin Krajicek (Texas A&M), 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.
No. 3 - Wil Spencer (Texas A&M) def. (115) Adrian Simon (TCU), 7-5, 6-3.
No. 4 - Kriegler Brink (TCU) def. Chris Chirico (Texas A&M), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
No. 5 - Matt Bain (Texas A&M) def. (122) Zach Nichols, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
No. 6 - Stephen Shields (Texas A&M) def. Jack Seider (TCU), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2.
No. 1 - Cotet-Brink (TCU) def. Krajicek-Spencer (Texas A&M), 8-3.
No. 2 - Chirico-Pollock (Texas A&M) def. Brighiu-Simon (TCU), 8-4.
No. 3 - Nichols-Seider (TCU) def. Karimi-Bain (Texas A&M), 8-3.
ORDER OF FINISH
Doubles: 1, 3, 2
Singles: 1, 3, 2, 6, 4, 5*