COLLEGE STATION, Texas- Top-seeded Texas defeated fifth-seeded Texas A&M, 4-0, in the second men’s semifinal match of the 2008 Big 12 Conference Tennis Championships held Saturday afternoon at the George P. Mitchell Center.
The Aggies (12-11) had just a little over 16 hours to recover from a 4-3 barn burner of a match against fourth-seeded Texas Tech in Friday’s quarterfinals which ultimately catapulted A&M into its eighth all-time semifinal appearance. The Longhorns (20-4), who received the tournament bye and moved up to No. 6 nationally in the latest ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings, quickly made headway in doubles.
After claiming the doubles point exactly a week ago in Austin at the No. 1 and No. 2 lines, the Aggies hoped the same scenario would play out and get them off to a good start and not have to rely on winning four-straight singles matches as they did against the Red Raiders.
Senior Mike Beatty (Cincinnati, Ohio) and freshman Wil Spencer (Ponce de Leon, Fla.) saw their five-match win streak come to a halt despite a hard-fought battle versus the No. 57-ranked duo of Luis Diaz Barriga and Miguel Reyes Varela of UT, 8-5, at No. 2. Dimitar Kutrovsky and Josh Zavala later closed out the doubles point for the Longhorns with an 8-2 win over senior Matt Bain (Georgetown, Texas) and sophomore Chris Chirico (Philadelphia, Pa.) at No. 3.
“I thought the key to the match would be the doubles,” Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton said. “We had a shot there at No. 2 doubles to get back into the match. We won that same kind of match last week in Austin. They (Texas) picked their level up, so give them credit for playing well.”
In singles, the Aggies faced a Texas lineup loaded with four nationally-ranked players. Freshman Austin Krajicek (Brandon, Fla.) was the lone Aggie to win his first set, 6-4, at the No. 3 line, but did not get a chance to finish as the match was already decided with straight-set victories by UT at the No. 4, No. 6 and No. 2 lines to clinch the match.
The Longhorns will face Baylor (20-8) in the championship match to be played tomorrow at 1 p.m. Both teams tied each other in the regular season for a share of the Big 12 title. The second-seeded Bears moved on to tomorrow’s finals with a 4-1 victory over third-seeded Oklahoma State.
“We were playing uphill the whole time,” Denton said. “In the lockerroom, we talked about how important it was to win the first sets in a lot of these matches. It just didn’t happen today.”
A&M will learn of its postseason destination as selection for the 2008 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship will be announced between 2 and 2:30 p.m. (ET) on Tuesday, April 29, on ESPNews. ESPNews is located on DirecTV Channel 207 and DishNetwork Channel 142. Additionally, the ESPNews audio signal will be available on the ESPNews channel on XM Radio and SIRIUS Radio.
“The good news is that we are going to play in the NCAA Tournament,” Denton said. “We are a better team than we were earlier in the year. This team fights really hard. We win a lot of close matches and we’ll see where we get to go. We had a tough draw here (at the Big 12 Championship). We played a really good Texas Tech team yesterday and then a team that has a chance to win it all this year. It certainly is getting us battle tested for the NCAA Tournament.”
(1) TEXAS 4, (5) TEXAS A&M 0
2008 Big 12 Conference Tennis Championships
April 26, 2008
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
at College Station, Texas
No. 1 - (10) Dimitar Kutrovsky (Texas) vs. (21) Conor Pollock (Texas A&M), DNF.
No. 2 - (38) Kellen Damico (Texas) def. Wil Spencer (Texas A&M), 6-1, 6-3.
No. 3 - (46) Ed Corrie (Texas) vs. Austin Krajicek (Texas A&M), DNF.
No. 4 - (119) Luis Diaz Barriga (Texas) def. Chris Chirico (Texas A&M), 6-1, 6-2.
No. 5 - Milan Mihailovic (Texas) vs. Matt Bain (Texas A&M), DNF.
No. 6 - Josh Zavala (Texas) def. Kayvon Karimi (Texas A&M), 6-4, 6-3.
No. 1 - (10) Corrie-Damico (Texas) vs. (15) Krajicek-Pollock (Texas A&M), DNF.
No. 2 - (57) Diaz Barriga-Reyes Varela (Texas) def. Mike Beatty-Spencer (Texas A&M), 8-5.
No. 3 - Kutrovsky-Zavala (Texas) def. Bain-Chirico (Texas A&M), 8-2.
ORDER OF FINISH
Doubles: 2, 3
Singles: 4, 6, 2*