COLLEGE STATION -- Eleven top 25 opponents highlight the 2007-08 Texas A&M men’s tennis schedule including two of the last four national champions as announced by Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton Tuesday.
The Aggies’ loaded slate includes 21 dual matches against teams all ranked in the final FILA/ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings. A&M will start things off with its season opener versus No. 23 Clemson on Jan. 25, 2008. The Aggies will also be tested at home by No. 24 Boise State on Jan. 27, No. 35 Washington on Feb. 3, No. 30 Old Dominion on March 6, No. 68 TCU on March 8, No. 13 Wake Forest on March 10, No. 67 Indiana on March 12 and No. 59 Louisville on March 20. Sixteen of the 21 teams advanced to postseason play a year ago including five teams which advanced to the NCAA Round of 16.
Non-conference road trips will take the Aggies from coast-to-coast with contests scheduled at No. 22 Tulsa on Feb. 10 in Tulsa, Okla., No. 15 LSU on Feb. 23 in Baton Rouge, La., No. 17 Duke on Feb. 29 in Durham, N.C., No. 18 Florida State on March 2 in Tallahassee, Fla., No. 34 Rice on April 9 in Houston, Texas and No. 20 Pepperdine on March 15 in Malibu, Calif.
“We set out to really toughen up our schedule and met our goal,” Denton said. “It (schedule) will be very challenging for our players and we are very pleased with the end result. Every opponent is nationally ranked and boasts national-caliber competition. Our philosophy is to play really good teams and get a lot of good matches in. We are playing 11 home matches, but playing difficult teams on the road. When you play against ranked teams, you are challenging your players at every line. Ultimately, our schedule will prepare our players for competition at the highest level at the Big 12 Conference and NCAA Championships.”
In addition to the State Farm Lone Star Showdown between both schools, A&M will revive an old tradition of playing rival Texas at a neutral site on Feb. 8 at the Westside Tennis Club in Houston, Texas. Both the Aggies and Longhorns will later play their Big 12 Conference regular season match on April 19 in Austin, Texas.
League play offers yet another challenging portion of the schedule against No. 33 Texas Tech on March 23, No. 26 Oklahoma on March 28, No. 11 Oklahoma State on March 30, No. 4 Baylor on April 2 and No. 56 Nebraska on April 11. A&M will also serve as the host of the Big 12 Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships on April 24-27 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
Fall tournament play will include the Baylor HEB Intercollegiate on Sept. 21-23, ITA All-American on Oct. 4-7, UTSA Invitational on Oct. 5-7, Midland Invitational on Oct. 12-14, ITA Regionals on Oct. 20-23, UT Invitational on Nov. 2-4 and Seminole Invitational on Nov. 2-4.
Last season, the Aggies made their 14th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and finished No. 31 in the final national team rankings. A&M had two of its own ranked among the top singles players in the nation with All-American Jerry Makowski (Bradenton, Fla.) and All-Big 12 performer Conor Pollock (San Antonio, Texas) coming in at No. 58 and No. 63 respectively. The team also finished No. 3 regionally in the South Central Region.
A&M returns its top five players from last year’s lineup including Makowski, Pollock, Matt Bain (Georgetown, Texas), Luka Ocvirk (Ljubljana, Slovenia) and Brad Williams (Cape Town, South Africa). Mike Beatty (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Stephen Shields (Austin, Texas) round out A&M’s seven returners for the 2007-08 season.
Summer Circuit…This summer will be a busy one for the Texas A&M coaching staff as head coach Steve Denton and assistant coach Bob McKinley were recently selected to coach teams for the USTA Texas Section. Denton will coach the Junior Davis Cup team and McKinley the USTA Intersectional team with players representing the state of Texas.