TULSA, OK -- Texas A&M’s Conor Pollock (pronounced PAUL-luck) dropped a hard-fought three set match to fifth-seeded Daniel Vallverdu of Miami (Fla.) in the opening round of the 2008 NCAA Men’s Singles Championship held Wednesday afternoon at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Tulsa.
The San Antonio native, making his first appearance at the NCAA Individual Championships, opened up the match with some momentum winning the first set 7-5 after rebounding back from a 3-1 deficit to the four-time All-American from Venezuela. Pollock, ranked 25th nationally in the ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings, could not hold off a run by Vallverdu in the second and third sets which resulted in a 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 loss in the Round of 64.
“Conor got himself back in the first set by really playing aggressively,” Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton said. “He played at a very high level, but needed to sustain it at the opening of the second set. Conor lost some of the key points and second chances in the second set to keep the momentum on his side. Give Daniel Vallverdu credit. He really lifted his game in the second set and Conor was playing from behind the rest of the way. Overall, he hit the ball really well today and playing at NCAAs was a very valuable experience for him.”
Pollock, a two-time All-Big 12 Conference selection in singles, closes out his junior campaign with a team-best 22-15 overall record including 14 dual match victories against some of the nation’s top players at No. 1 singles for the Aggies. He became the first A&M player to earn selection to the field of 64 since former All-American Jerry Makowski who was one of 16 top seeds in 2005 and 2006.
“One of Conor’s goals this year was to be an All-American, but he will get his chance in doubles,” Denton said. “I’m really proud of his season. He stepped up and played No. 1 for us and was a great team leader. He continued to improve throughout the season and had really big wins against players ranked in the top 10. He led by example and displayed that this year as our team captain and by mentoring the young guys on our team. I only see him getting better and more confident as a senior next season.”
Pollock will continue play at the NCAA Championships with freshman teammate Austin Krajicek (Brandon, Fla.) in the 32-team doubles championship field. The Aggie 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. Krajicek, who is 17 years old, was honored as the co-Big 12 Freshman and Newcomer of the Year this past season.
Pollock and Krajicek will face Pepperdine’s Omar Altmann and Andre Begemann, ranked 24th nationally, in the Round of 32 to be played tomorrow afternoon at the Case Tennis Center at a time to be determined. The winner will advance in a best of three sets scenario. Doubles teams earn All-America status by either (1) earning a top eight seed at the NCAA Doubles Championship, (2) reaching the quarterfinals at the NCAA Doubles Championship or (3) finishing in the top 10 in the final ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings.
“Conor and Austin have been getting some great practice matches in,” Denton said. “It’s going to be a tough match for them tomorrow, but I feel good about how they are playing and hitting the ball. We’ll see what happens.”
Watch It Live…Visit www.TulsaHurricane.com for live scoring and streamline video from the 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).
2008 NCAA Singles Championship
May 21, 2008
Michael D. Case Tennis Center
at Tulsa, Okla.
ROUND OF 64
(5) Daniel Vallverdu (Miami) def. Conor Pollock (Texas A&M), 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.