COLLEGE STATION, Texas – A loaded six-match homestand begins for the No. 35-ranked Texas A&M men’s tennis team with a plethora of the nation’s top teams paying a visit to College Station over the next two weeks starting off with No. 16-ranked Duke on Monday, March 12 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
First serve is set for 6 p.m. against the Blue Devils. Monday’s men’s tennis match will feature Dollar Day at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. Tickets, drinks, hot dogs and candy will be available for $1.
The Aggies (8-3) are coming off a bye week in preparation of their tough stretch of matches ahead. On its recent Hawaiian excursion, A&M went 2-0 against No. 22-ranked Michigan (4-3) on March 2 and host Hawai’i (5-2) on Feb. 28 in Waikoloa, Hawaii. Looking to defend their home court, the Aggies have been successful at the Mitchell Center this season with an undefeated 6-0 mark with wins over Michigan State and Wichita State.
Last season, A&M lost at then No. 10-ranked Duke (5-0) on Feb. 12, 2006 in Durham, N.C. The Blue Devils have won the last four-straight meetings between the two schools. Both teams have also played each other annually since 1998.
Individually, junior Matt Bain (20-5), freshman Stephen Shields (17-3) and sophomore Conor Pollock (13-7) pace the Aggies in singles victories this season. Bain is on a five-match winning streak and is 8-1 in dual match competition. Meanwhile, senior John Nallon (16-8) and senior Bryan Wooten (16-5) are tied with the most victories among the team in doubles play.
Texas A&M will continue its action-packed week of with a doubleheader against Abilene Christian and Columbia on Wednesday, March 14 at noon and 6 p.m. respectively. The Aggies will later host No. 15-ranked LSU on Saturday, March 17 at 1 p.m.
Duke (5-5)…The Duke roster features four nationally-ranked singles players in No. 36 Kiril Dimitrov, No. 63 Peter Rodriques, No. 95 Joey Atas and No. 98 Dylan Arnould. All-American Atas and teammate David Goulet are also ranked 11th nationally in doubles. A&M will be the second of five consecutive road opponents for the Blue Devils. Three of those road matchups will be played in the Lone Star State including a loss at Big 12 Conference rival Texas (5-2) on March 10 in Austin, Texas. They will later take on TCU on March 14 in Fort Worth, Texas. The Blue Devils lead 11-4 in the all-time series versus A&M.
Columbia (6-1)…Columbia and A&M will meet for the first time on Wednesday. The Lions are the third Ivy League opponent the Aggies will have faced in school history next to Harvard (1995) and Yale (1984). A&M is 2-3 all-time against schools hailing from the Ivy League. The Lions venture on a four-match road swing through the state of Texas over spring break with stops scheduled at No. 65-ranked SMU, A&M, Texas-Arlington and Texas-San Antonio. Their one loss of the season was a 7-0 shutout at SEC power Alabama on Feb. 24.
Abilene Christian (7-3)…NCAA Division II power Abilene Christian is currently ranked No. 22 nationally in the ITA/FILA College Tennis Rankings. Two of their seven wins of the season have come against Division I opponents in Wright State (5-2) on Feb. 3 and Eastern Kentucky (4-3) on Feb. 2. ACU’s top player J.J. Nunez is ranked No. 45 nationally in Division II singles. The Wildcats previously were swept by No. 23-ranked Texas Tech (7-0) in dual match play on Feb. 27. A&M has dominated the all-time series between the two schools with an undefeated 8-0 record against the Wildcats.
LSU (7-2)…The Tigers have three of their own ranked among the top singles players in the country including No. 21 Ken Skupski, No. 37 Danny Bryan and No. 86 Kevin Dessauer. They are 5-2 against nationally-ranked opponent this season having gone head-to-head with the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country with a loss at top-ranked Georgia (6-1) on March 4 and a loss to second-ranked Ohio State (4-2) on Feb. 24. Skupski and teammate James Cluskey are ranked fifth nationally in doubles. Last season, play was suspended due to rain when both teams last met each other on March 16, 2006, in Baton Rouge, La. The Tigers are 1-1 against SEC competition thus far, while the Aggies have yet to start Big 12 competition. LSU and A&M are tied 9-9 in the all-time series, but the Tigers have won the last two meetings between the two schools.
Snapshots From Hawaii…While in paradise, the Aggie men’s tennis team took in the sights and sounds of Hawai’i while staying at the beautiful Hilton Waikoloa Resort located on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island. They had the opportunity to go on a glass bottom boat ride, taste the unique Hawaiian cuisine at a traditional luau and enjoy the stretch of sandy beaches for surfing and snorkeling opportunities. The coaching staff also took a breathtaking helicopter ride over Kilauea Volcano.
Upcoming Opponents…The Aggies will close out their six-match homestand by hosting No. 22 Tulsa on March 21 at 6 p.m. and No. 58 New Mexico on March 25 at 1 p.m. All home matches played at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
On The Airwaves…Listen to The Steve Denton Show every Monday evening at 4:15 p.m. on Chip Howard’s SportsTalk broadcast live on KZNE 1150 AM The Zone in College Station. Denton joins host Chip Howard for the only college tennis coach’s radio show in the nation. Each week, the duo will recap and preview matches for the nationally-ranked Aggies. The weekly radio show airs from February through the NCAA Championships and can also be heard worldwide on the Internet at www.KZNE.com.