COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The 20th-ranked Texas A&M men’s tennis team won its fourth consecutive match and remained undefeated at home with a 5-2 victory against No. 38 Indiana tonight at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
With the win, A&M improves to 8-4, including 6-0 in home matches. The Hoosiers, who also entered the match riding a three-match winning streak, drop to 10-3.
“What has happened is that this team has really come together,” A&M head coach Steve Denton said. “They are fighting really hard for each other, and we are winning some close matches. Everybody realizes that we need their point, so there is a sense of urgency. The guys are stepping up, and we are winning these close matches. Obviously that is giving us confidence, and they are believing that we can come back even though we have been struggling with our doubles and are having to come from behind.”
Indiana took the early lead, narrowly winning two of three doubles matches. The Hoosiers’ Phillip Eilers and Lachlan Ferguson began by pulling away from a 5-5 tie to top Chris Chirico and Conor Pollock, 8-5, at the No. 1 line. A&M’s Austin Krajicek and Wil Spencer evened the contest with an 8-5 victory over Dave McLoughlin and Thomas Richter at the No. 2 line.
The point was decided to the No. 3 line, where A&M’s Matt Bain and Mike Beatty had been locked in a 6-all tie with Peter Antons and Santiago Gunter. The Hoosiers held serve to take a 7-6 lead and then broke the Aggies to end the match as A&M double faulted at match point.
Although the Aggies lost the doubles point, A&M won four of six first sets in singles to overtake the momentum. Spencer completed a straight-set 7-5, 6-2 victory over McLoughlin at the No. 2 line to even the score at 1-1. The Aggies then took their first lead as Krajicek followed with a 6-3, 6-4 win against Eilers at No. 3.
Gruter got a straight-set win for the Hoosiers to tie the score at 2-2, defeating Kayvon Karimi, 6-3, 7-4 at No. 6. Chirico then gave A&M a 3-2 lead with a 6-4, 6-3 win against Ferguson at the No. 4 line. Meanwhile, the Aggies and Hoosiers were entrenched in three-set battles at the Nos. 1 and 5 lines.
Pollock held off match point in a second-set tiebreaker against Richter at the No. 1 line, coming back to win 10-8 and force a third set.
“For them to have to win two matches with us being up 3-2, that gave us a big lift,” Denton said. “Conor winning the second set tiebreaker after being down a couple of match points kind of helped changed the momentum and also didn’t put Matt Bain out there by himself again. It gave Matt someone out there to battle with, and that makes a big difference.”
Bain and Mike McCarthy had split sets at No. 5 with Bain cruising to a 6-1 win in the opener, and McCarthy taking a 6-2 win in the second set to even the match. Tied at 2-2 in the deciding set, Bain went on to win the next four games to win the match and clinch the winning point for the Aggies for the third consecutive match.
Pollock also reeled off four consecutive games to defeat Richter, 7-5, in the third set to cap the Aggies’ hard-fought 5-2 victory, which took nearly four hours.
After playing four consecutive home matches, the Aggies return to the road Saturday as they take on No. 32 Pepperdine in Malibu, Calif. Match time is 1 p.m. (PDT).
“Pepperdine is a very good team and is better than its ranking,” Denton said. “A team is defined by how well you do and how well you handle adversity on the road. We have a good win (at No. 10 Duke) on the road, and we are going out there with momentum and a lot of confidence.”
(20) TEXAS A&M 5
(38) INDIANA 2
March 12, 2008
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
at College Station, Texas
No. 1 - (31) Conor Pollock (A&M) def. Thomas Richter (IU), 4-6, 7-6 (8), 7-5
No. 2 - Wil Spencer (A&M) def. Dave McLoughlin (IU), 7-5, 6-2
No. 3 - Austin Krajicek (A&M) def. Phillip Eilers (IU), 6-3, 6-4
No. 4 - Chris Chirico (A&M) def. Lachlan Ferguson (IU), 6-3, 6-4
No. 5 - Matt Bain (A&M) def. Mike McCarthy (IU), 6-1, 2-6, 6-2
No. 6 – Santiago Gruter (IU) def. Kayvon Karimi (A&M), 6-3, 7-5
DOUBLES (Indiana wins the point)
No. 1 - Eilers-Ferguson (IU) def. Chirico-Pollock (A&M), 8-5
No. 2 - Krajicek-Spencer (A&M) def. McLoughlin-Richter (IU), 8-5
No. 3 - Phillip Antons-Gruter (IU) def. Bain-Mike Beatty (A&M), 8-6
ORDER OF FINISH
Doubles: 1, 2, 3
Singles: 2, 3, 6, 4, 5*, 1
* Clinched match