COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M men’s tennis players Conor Pollock and Austin Krajicek will compete at the 2008 NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships on May 21-26 at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla.
Pollock, a native of San Antonio, Texas, is making his first appearance at the NCAA Singles Championship and is the first A&M player to earn a selection to the field of 64 since former All-American Jerry Makowski who was one of 16 top seeds in 2005 and 2006. He is currently ranked 25th nationally in the ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings and will face fifth-seeded Daniel Vallverdu of Miami (Fla.) in the Round of 64 on Wednesday, May 21 at 10 a.m. (CT).
Vallverdu, who hails from Venezuela, is ranked fifth nationally with a 28-8 overall record and 18-5 mark in dual match play. Pollock, a two-time All-Big 12 Conference selection, has compiled a team-best 22-14 overall record with 14 dual-match victories at No. 1 singles for the Aggies. He has also defeated 12 nationally-ranked opponents this season including eighth-ranked Lars Poerschke of Baylor in NCAA second-round action on May 11 to mark his highest career spring victory to date. Pollock was ranked as high as No. 15 this year and continues to be one of the top American college players in the country.
“Conor’s focus is to play well and be able to play on all cylinders,” Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton said. “Over the last couple of weeks, we have prepared him mentally to play a full weeklong tournament. There will be a lot of great tennis players there in Tulsa. He has been playing everyday and working on things in his game through drills and some match play. He’s very excited and is feeling good about his shots.”
The Aggies will also be represented in the 32-team doubles championship field by Pollock and 17-year-old Austin Krajicek from Brandon, Fla. The duo is currently ranked 20th nationally and boast a team-leading 10-1 dual match record at No. 1 doubles. Both players were named All-Big 12 selections in doubles this season and became the first A&M doubles team to earn an NCAA berth since former players Brett Joelson and Ante Matijevic did so in 2005.
Pollock and Krajicek will take on Pepperdine’s Omar Altmann and Andre Begemann, ranked 24th nationally, in the Round of 32 on Thursday, May 22 at 10 a.m. This will mark the second time this year that Krajicek will compete against Altmann and Begemann as he and freshman doubles teammate Wil Spencer lost 8-4 to the Pepperdine pair at the No. 1 line in a dual match meeting between the Aggies and Waves on March 15 in Malibu, Calif. Similar to singles competition, doubles will be played with the best two of three sets.
“Conor and Austin have been a really solid team this year,” Denton said. “Our main objective is to play well and execute our doubles game plan. They have been playing well in practice and are going to let the chips fall where they fall. They have focused on eating right, drinking right, sleeping right and training to get themselves ready to play their best tennis in Tulsa. We are ready to go out there and play.”
Watch It Live…Visit www.TulsaHurricane.com for live scoring and streamline video from the singles and doubles championships played on the campus of the University of Tulsa. The Tennis Channel will broadcast the singles and doubles finals live on Monday, May 26 beginning at noon (CT).
Familiar Ground…As a team, the Aggies played at host Tulsa in regular-season action on Feb. 10 and have familiarized themselves well with the courts this season. Pollock also participated in the main draw of the fall Polo Ralph Lauren All-American Tennis Championship held at the Case Tennis Center from Sept. 29 to Oct. 7.
“We are very familiar with the surroundings and arrived early to get acclimated,” Denton said. “We played indoors and outdoors at Tulsa this year, so it certainly helps to play at a familiar venue and know what to expect.”
Denton Among ITA Men's Hall of Fame Class of 2008…This year’s ITA Hall of Fame ceremonies will take place on Wednesday, May 21 in Tulsa. The Class of 2008 includes seven players, one coach and one contributor. Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton, a former All-American at Texas from 1976-79, is among the former college players slated for this year’s induction class along with Jim Pugh of UCLA, Donald Johnson of North Carolina, Patrick McEnroe of Stanford, Robbie Weiss of Pepperdine, Chris Woodruff of Tennessee and David DiLucia of Notre Dame. Also being inducted are Coach Jerry Noyce of Minnesota and Tom Jacobs for his contributions while at the NCAA.
“It’s definitely an honor to be inducted into the College Tennis Hall of Fame,” said Denton, who is in his second season as the Aggies’ head coach. “Just to have your name considered is an accomplishment. I think it’s a team effort and a lot of the credit goes to my collegiate teammates, my coaches and family. They gave me the opportunity to be successful. My name was chosen, but many people played a major role in the success I’ve had as a player and coach.”
Looking To The Future…Several A&M men’s tennis players will use the summer months to perfect their games by participating in summer tournaments across the U.S. and abroad. Sophomore Chris Chirico (Philadelphia, Pa.), freshman Wil Spencer (Ponce de Leon, Fla.), incoming freshman Austin Klores (Franklin, Texas) and Krajicek will be among the four or five A&M players who will compete this summer at the U.S. National Clay Court Tennis Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich.
“We want our players to get better and develop their skills,” Denton said. “Coach (Bob) McKinley and I are continuing to build on what we started here at A&M. We are going to be a much better team next year with four of our top five players returning. We are hopeful that next year, as a result of our returning players getting better and the new players we bring in, our team is going to be that much better. We can’t wait for next season to start. The preparation for these young players depends a lot on the work they do and continuing the momentum into the summertime. A lot of our players have the dream of playing pro tennis in the future, so this is just a step along the way to hopefully achieve their ultimate goal.”