Texas A&M freshman Colin Hoover rallied from a 5-1 third-set deficit to give the No. 18 Aggie men's tennis team the decisive point in a 4-3 win over No. 7 Illinois on Sunday at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
The victory over the seventh-ranked Illini marked the Aggie tennis team's highest ranked victory since Steve Denton became the A&M head coach in 2007 and is the highest since 2003, when the No. 11 Aggies defeated No. 7 Duke, 5-2, in College Station.
With the score knotted at 3-all, Hoover, from Victoria Memorial High School, prevailed with a clutch 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory over the Illini's Meedo El Tabakh at the No. 6 singles line. Down 5-1 in the third set, Hoover fought off four match points, including three consecutive match points, before winning the game and then reeled off five more game points to finish off the improbable rally. During the third set, the tenacious Hoover turned back a total of seven match points from El Tabakh.
"This was a very emotional match," Denton said. "We've have a lot of opportunities (against high-ranked teams) and close matches, and it looked like this one was going to get away from us. All credit goes to Colin who just kept believing in himself, kept working out there and big things began to happen for him. Down 5-1, love-40 on his serve, and he just kept believing. That is what we have been talking to these guys about -- keep playing until the end. Good things can happen, and it happened today."
After Hoover's clinching victory, his teammates stormed the No. 6 court and doused the freshman with a cooler full of icy water.
"I didn't expect the water," Hoover said. "It was pretty cold, but I think I had too much adrenalin pumping through me to feel it. It's a great feeling, and I'm so happy that I could come through for the team. We were a man down today, and our hearts and prayers are with him, and that match was for him. It was for Wil."
A&M sophomore Wil Spencer (Ponce de Leon, Fla.) was absent from the Aggies' lineup after returning home due to an unexpected death in his family.
The Aggies notched the crucial doubles point with victories at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles. The A&M doubles tandem of Marcus Lunt and Alexey Grigorov cruised to a strong 8-4 victory at the No. 2 line, and then the Aggies' sixth-ranked team of Austin Krajicek and Conor Pollock clinched the point with an 8-5 win over Illinois' No. 41-ranked pair of Dennis Nevolo and Marc Spicijaric at No. 1.
Once in singles, the other five courts were all decided in straight sets. Pollock defeated No. 33 Nevolo on the No. 1 court, 6-4, 6-4, and Krajicek turned in a 6-4, 6-2 win over No. 55 Spicijaric at No. 2. Illinois tallied its three points in the match with victories at No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 singles.
To comment, the following rules must be followed:
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.
Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Questions may be sent to email@example.com. Please provide detailed information.