COLLEGE STATION -- After starting the Big 12 Conference season on the road, the No. 21 Texas A&M men’s tennis team returns home to face the Oklahoma schools as part of a three-match homestand at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. The Aggies will take on No. 61 Oklahoma on Friday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m. and No. 23 Oklahoma State on Sunday, March 30 at 1 p.m.
A&M (9-6, 0-1) is seeking its first league win of the year after dropping a close 4-3 decision at then-No. 21 Texas Tech in both team’s Big 12 opener on March 22. The Aggies used the week between matches to prepare for the always-competitive Sooners (5-7, 0-0) and Cowboys (10-5, 0-0) who handed them a pair of road losses last spring while traveling through the Sooner State. A&M looks to erase those losses from its memory bank and keep its undefeated home-court winning streak alive. The Aggies have won each of their eight home contests this season including two that were moved indoors as A&M adjusted well under the faster conditions against Clemson and Old Dominion.
“We are going to play two very solid teams this weekend in conference play,” Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton said. “Last year, we went up to Oklahoma feeling pretty confident after beating Texas Tech at home, and ended up losing two matches. This year, it will be different, because we will be playing at home where we feel more comfortable. But, we will still have to come prepared, because OU and OSU are two really tough teams.”
The Aggies have played in close matches all season long and are 4-1 when decided by a one-point margin. Strong singles play has kept A&M afloat as three players have reached 10 wins or more in dual-match competition. Junior Conor Pollock (San Antonio, Texas), who is ranked No. 23 nationally in singles, boasts a team-leading 11-4 dual record at the No. 1 line followed by freshmen phenoms Wil Spencer (Ponce de Leon, Fla.) and Austin Krajicek (Brandon, Fla.) with 10 victories each at No. 2 and No. 3 respectively. Pollock is on a roll having beaten two top 50-ranked players from Louisville and Texas Tech in a two-day span. He and his teammates Matt Bain (Georgetown, Texas) and Krajicek are currently on a two-match win streak.
“We are not going to do anything different this weekend,” said Denton when asked if the team had made any adjustments this week in practice. “We are just going to go out and play hard and execute. We are very comfortable in front of our 12th Man crowd, but we will have to step it up against two solid teams, to continue to be successful at home.”
A&M leads 19-2 in the all-time series versus Oklahoma along with a similar 14-8 edge in the all-time series against Oklahoma State. Four players on both teams combined are ranked among the nation’s best in the latest ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings including OU’s Andrei Daescu who is ranked No. 39 nationally in singles. He is joined by OSU’s triple lineup threat of Oleksandr Nedovyesov at No. 11, Ivan Puchkarov at No. 34 and Dmytro Petrov at No. 115. Former Big 12 Freshman of the Year Nedovyesov and Puchkarov were named All-Big 12 selections along with Pollock a year ago.
Both matches will be part of a Big 12 doubleheader with the A&M women’s tennis team who will host Nebraska on Friday, March 28 at 4:30 p.m. and Iowa State on Sunday, March 30 at noon prior to first serve on the men’s side. Please note that Friday’s men’s match time was pushed back 30 minutes and is now slated for a 6:30 p.m. start.
Pack The GPMC…A&M will host 2009 Day and its annual Dollar Day extravaganza at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center during Friday’s men’s and women’s tennis doubleheader as A&M students wearing a 2009 shirt will receive free admission to each of the matches. In addition, free Texas A&M Tennis T-shirts will be passed out to the first 200 students in attendance. Dollar Day (Friday Only) promotions include $1 tickets, $1 popcorn and $1 drinks at the concession stand. If that wasn’t enough, the first 150 students in attendance at Sunday’s men’s and women’s tennis doubleheader will receive free Texas A&M Crocs.
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 to win an iPod Touch 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.
On The Airwaves…Listen to the Steve Denton Radio Show every Monday evening at 4:15 p.m. on Chip Howard’s SportsTalk broadcast live on KZNE 1150 AM The Zone In College Station. Denton joins Chip Howard for the only college tennis coach’s radio show in the nation. Each week, the duo will recap and preview matches for the nationally-ranked Aggies. The weekly show airs from February through the NCAA Championship and can also be heard worldwide on the Internet at www.KZNE.com.