TULSA, Okla.- Texas A&M All-Americans Conor Pollock and Austin Krajicek fell short of extending their historic postseason tournament run with a 6-4, 6-4 loss to fourth-seeded Jonas Berg and Erling Tveit of Mississippi in the semifinals of the 2008 NCAA Men’s Tennis Doubles Championship held Sunday afternoon at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center.
After playing three-straight days of solid tennis, which saw the Aggie duo advance to the NCAA doubles semifinals for the first time in school history and earn a pair of All-America honors, Pollock and Krajicek could not get a break against the fifth-ranked Ole Miss tandem. The Swedish natives never gave up a service game throughout the entire match. They won 6-4 in the first set by breaking A&M’s serve in the match opener and followed with two love-games over the course of the next five.
Not to be outdone, the Aggies claimed an early 2-1 advantage in the second set by holding serve and delivering at the net. However, Berg and Tveit continued to hold serve to even the second set at two-all. Krajicek later served for a love-game including a service ace in the middle of the set which kept A&M within striking distance, 3-4. Ole Miss held serve once again and managed one more service break to seal the victory over the 20th-ranked Aggies, 6-4. They move on to tomorrow’s championship finals and will face USC’s Robert Farah and Kaes Van’t.
“If you would have told us that Conor and Austin were going to play as well as they played to get to the semifinals before the tournament started, we would have been happy with that result,” said Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton of his players’ success in the postseason. “Obviously, getting to the semifinals and having a chance to win the tournament, it stings a bit to not get through after getting so far. Give credit to Mississippi. They are a very experienced team and they played well today. They served well, they returned well and they put more pressure on our serve. We didn’t take care of our serve and did not do well on our returns.”
Pollock, a junior from San Antonio, Texas, and Krajicek, a freshman from Brandon, Fla., finished out the season with a team-leading 13-2 overall doubles record (.867) and the most career NCAA doubles wins (3) in program history. They also hold the distinction of being the only A&M players in the school record books to ever advance to the NCAA semifinals in singles or doubles since the NCAA Championship first began on the men’s side in 1946.
“They worked really hard this year and deserve everything that they earned,” Denton said. “I was really proud of the way they fought and played during this tournament. I know they are disappointed now, but they will reflect back on this and think of it as a good season for them personally as a doubles team. They have gained a lot of confidence and will certainly be one of the premier teams in the country next season. With this experience behind them, they look forward to having the NCAA Championships in Aggieland next year where they will have a raucous crowd behind them. I think it will inspire them both to play even better than they did this year.”
History Repeats Itself…Pollock and Krajicek have been tutored by the best in Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton, a former All-American at Texas, and assistant coach Bob McKinley, a four-time All-American at Trinity University. Both coaches are ITA Hall of Famers and enjoyed successful collegiate careers with McKinley reaching the NCAA doubles finals twice as a player. He also coached two of his alma mater’s doubles teams to a national title with former greats Erick Iskersky and Ben McKown in 1979 and a runner-up finish by Tony Giammalva and John Benson in 1980. On the professional circuit, McKinley reached the doubles finals of the U.S. Open, while Denton won the U.S. Open doubles title in 1982. Both were also ranked No. 2 in the world in doubles during their pro tennis careers.
2008 NCAA Doubles Championship
May 25, 2008
Michael D. Case Tennis Center
at Tulsa, Okla.
(4) Jonas Berg and Erling Tveit (Mississippi) def. Austin Krajicek-Conor Pollock (Texas A&M), 6-4, 6-4.
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