INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- The 25th-ranked Texas A&M men’s tennis team will make an unprecedented 15th consecutive postseason appearance as the field of 64 teams for the upcoming 2008 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Team Championship was announced by the selection subcommittee on Tuesday.
The Aggies (12-11) will take on former Southwest Conference and regional rival SMU (20-8) in the NCAA First Round on Saturday, May 10 at the Baylor Tennis Center in Waco, Texas. First serve between the Aggies and Mustangs is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start. The winner will move on and play either host and ninth-seeded Baylor (22-8) or Oral Roberts (7-9) in the second round to be played on Sunday, May 11 at 2 p.m. Both A&M and SMU were among 33 teams which received at-large bids, while BU was one of 16 top seeds in the tournament.
Both teams last met each other 10 years ago in the 1998 NCAA Regional finals contested in Austin, Texas. SMU prevailed with a 4-3 victory over the Aggies to move on to the Sweet 16. Prior to that meeting, A&M had a nine-match win streak going versus the Mustangs since 1991. SMU leads 15-13 in the all-time series between the two schools.
A&M is coming off a 1-1 tournament run in the home-hosted Big 12 Conference Championship where the Aggies edged Texas Tech, 4-3, in the quarterfinals, but lost to top-seeded Texas in the semifinals. A&M will be making back-to-back Highway 6 trips after competing in last year’s NCAA First and Second Rounds also in Waco. There, A&M defeated Rice, 4-2, in first-round action, but later fell to third-seeded Baylor, 4-0, in the second round.
The Aggies are headlined by two-time All-Big 12 standout and top player Conor Pollock (San Antonio, Texas) who is currently ranked No. 25 nationally and has claimed 20 overall victories this season at No. 1 singles. Freshman Austin Krajicek (Brandon, Fla.) is the reigning co-Big 12 Freshman and Newcomer of the Year and was tabbed All-Big 12 in singles with a team-leading 15-6 dual match record at the No. 3 line. Additionally, the 20th-ranked combination of Pollock and Krajicek earned all-conference honors in doubles with a 9-1 mark in dual match play.
“We are really excited to play in the NCAA Tournament,” said Pollock who also serves as team captain. “It’s always the most fun time of year for us. We haven’t had much luck getting to the Sweet 16 over the last two years, but we hope to play well and make some noise in the tournament. SMU is a pretty dangerous team. They had some high-quality wins this year and have the potential to play well. They will be a tough team to beat. We can’t overlook them or take them for granted.”
Pollock and Krajicek are joined by freshman Wil Spencer (Ponce de Leon, Fla.), sophomore Chris Chirico (Philadelphia, Pa.), senior Matt Bain (Georgetown, Texas), freshman Kayvon Karimi (Dallas, Texas), senior Mike Beatty (Cincinnati, Ohio) and sophomore Stephen Shields (Austin, Texas) in the youth-filled A&M lineup.
SMU is ranked No. 40 in the latest ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings released on Monday which marked its highest national ranking of the season. They are led by three All-Conference USA players in first teamer Robin Fahgen and second teamers David Kuczer and Alex Skrypko. The Mustangs have defeated ranked teams in Minnesota, Rice, Cal and TCU this season.
As a team, we are on the same page and are ready to go out there and prove a point,” said Pollock on the team’s disappointing second-round loss to Baylor in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. “We want to make a good run in the tournament. As team captain, I want to go out there and lead by example. This year, it’s going to be different. No matter what happens, we are going to give our opponent all that we have and it’s definitely a going to battle.”
The Big 12 was well represented in the 64-team field by A&M as well as automatic qualifier Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. All five member schools are currently ranked among the top 25 teams in the country showing the strength of the league this season.
First-and second-round competition will be conducted on May 9-10 or 10-11, with the winner of each site advancing to the NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championships hosted by the University of Tulsa on May 16-20 at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla. The individual championships will be held following the team championships on May 20-26 on the Tulsa campus.
Each team will play in a single-elimination tournament at 16 first-and second-round sites (four teams at each site) and the finals site (16-team bracket) to determine the national champion. The matches shall be regulation dual matches with three eight-game, pro-set doubles played for one team point, followed by six singles matches, each valued at one team point, played best of three sets. Regular scoring will be used and a 12-point tiebreaker will be played at eight games all in doubles and at six games all in singles.
NCAA Individual Championship participants will be released and posted at www.ncaasports.com on Wednesday, May 30 no later than 5 p.m. Pollock and Krajicek await their fate in the singles and doubles draws.
“I have worked toward this opportunity all year,” said Pollock on the chances of playing individually in singles and doubles. “If I prepare well and can do the right things to have a good shot, who knows what can happen? As for doubles, Austin (Krajicek) and I are a really good team. If we get hot at the right time and have a good draw, the sky’s the limit for us.”
NCAA MEN’S TENNIS FIRST AND SECOND ROUNDS
May 10-11, 2008
Baylor Tennis Center
at Waco, Texas
Saturday, May 10
Baylor vs. Oral Roberts at 11 a.m.
Texas A&M vs. SMU at 2 p.m.
Sunday, May 11
Men’s First Round Winners at 2 p.m.
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