COLLEGE STATION -- The No. 23 Texas A&M men’s tennis team will close out the regular season at seventh-ranked Texas with a full point on the line toward the State Farm Lone Star Showdown race between the two rival schools on Saturday, April 19 at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center in Austin.
First serve between the Aggies (11-9, 2-3) and Longhorns (18-4, 4-1) is set for 4 p.m. A&M is coming off a 5-2 road victory at Nebraska on April 11, while UT most recently edged Baylor, 4-3, in a rescheduled match on April 16 in Waco. Saturday’s match will set up seeding for the upcoming Big 12 Men’s Tennis Championship on April 25-27 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station. A&M is currently in fifth place and UT in a tie for first with No. 16 Texas Tech (19-3, 4-1). In fact, five Big 12 schools rank among the top 25 nationally which is only second to the SEC with six schools.
“Anytime A&M and Texas plays each other, it’s a big deal,” Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton said. “Our guys are excited to go over to Austin and will be fired up to play. It’s going to be a really good match. This team is very capable of beating a high-ranked team. Ultimately, all we can do is our very best. Having five schools ranked in the top 25 is a tribute to our conference. It hasn’t been a big surprise to me, because there is a lot of parity. We’ve had some close calls that could have gone our way and I am hopeful before the year is over, we are going to get one of those big wins. Our league has shown that anyone can beat anyone on any given day.”
The Aggies have already faced the Longhorns this season as both teams last met two months ago on neutral ground in the renewed Texas Cup rivalry series which did not count toward Big 12 or Lone Star Showdown standings. Texas came away with a 4-0 indoor victory at The Downtown Club at the Met in Houston on Feb. 8. UT leads 36-10 in the all-time series as A&M has won two of the last five meetings in 2004 and 2005.
“In our last match indoors, Texas was a little bit better than us,” said Denton who was an All-American at UT from 1976-79. “It will be interesting to see how much improvement we have made over the last three months and how we will fare against a very talented team. Texas is one of the few teams with a legitimate shot at an NCAA title. They have no holes in their lineup and play some of the best doubles in the country.”
Next Level Play…Freshman Austin Krajicek (Brandon, Fla.) recently received a wild card entry into the main draw of the ITF Futures Men’s Pro Circuit tournament held at the Pleasant Valley Country Club in Little Rock, Ark. Krajicek competed as a amateur and fell in the opening round of singles to Julio Peralta of Chile, 6-3, 6-2, on April 15. He currently boasts a team-leading 14-5 singles record in dual match play including a 4-1 mark in the Big 12. Former player Bryan Wooten (2004-06) also competed at the tournament and advanced to the main draw with victories over Americans Rylan Rizza and Ricky Flach in the qualies. Wooten beat American Chris Lam, 6-2, 6-4, in the first round of the main draw which continues through April 20. He will face Australia Greg Jones in the next round for a shot at advancing to the quarterfinals.
On The National Scene…Junior Conor Pollock (San Antonio, Texas) is ranked No. 28 nationally in singles in the latest ITA/FILA Collegiate Tennis Rankings released on April 13. He and partner Austin Krajicek are also ranked No. 22 nationally in doubles with an undefeated 8-0 overall record at the No. 1 line including a 2-0 mark against Big 12 competition. Krajicek is on a two-match win streak at No. 3 singles as well as senior Matt Bain (Georgetown, Texas) at No. 5.
State Bragging Rights…A&M leads seven points to 5.5 points in the latest State Farm Lone Star Showdown standings over rival UT. Complete standings and results can be followed online at: www.lonestarshowdown.net.
The Championship Is Here…Texas A&M will play host to the upcoming 2008 Big 12 Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships on April 24-27 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. Twelve women’s and seven men’s teams from Big 12-member schools will converge onto College Station. Tickets are available for reserved seating at the Mitchell Tennis Center. A variety of ticket options are available ranging from $30-$2. For more information, please contact the 12th Man Foundation Ticket Office at 1-888-99-AGGIE or online at: www.12thManFoundation.com.