COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 14 Texas A&M men’s tennis team couldn’t overcome a sluggish start as it dropped its match against former Big 12 rival and eighth ranked Oklahoma, 5-2. The Aggies had no answer early as their rivals from across the Red River claimed the first set in singles on five-of-six courts. Texas A&M falls to 8-4 on the season while the Sooners improve to 8-2.
“We knew it was going to be a difficult match for us coming in,” men’s head coach Steve Denton said. “We knew winning the doubles was going to be crucial for us to have success today. Winning four singles matches against them definitely made us fight an uphill battle. I feel good about this team. The guys fought and we’re getting better.”
The Aggies came very close to claiming the doubles point, but a late surge from the Sooners at the No. 2 and No. 3 lines would prove to be the deciding factor in the match. The No. 40 duo of Jackson Withrow and Junior Ore fell to Guillermo Alcorta and Axel Alvarez-Llamas, 8-6, at the No. 2 line giving OU the first doubles match. Seconds later, Peerakit Siributwong and Lawrence Formentera downed Jeremy Efferding and Jordan Szabo, 8-6, at the No. 3 slot to push Oklahoma ahead, 1-0. The matchup of top-20 tandems in seventh ranked Harry Adams and Shane Vinsant against 19th ranked Costin Paval and Dane Webb ended in an unfinished draw at 6-6.
Oklahoma took the momentum from winning the doubles point into singles, only dropping the first set at the No. 3 singles line. No. 65 Alcorta proved to be too much for Efferding, winning in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3, at the No. 2 line, giving the Sooners a 2-0 lead. Oklahoma wasted no time in expanding that lead to 3-0 when Siributwong downed Szabo, 6-2, 6-4, at the No. 6 line. The Sooners clinched the match on the No. 5 court when Leonard Stakhovsky upset 100th ranked Jackson Withrow, 6-4, 6-3. The match concluded when 19th ranked Paval downed Ore at the No. 1 line, 6-4, 6-2.
The Aggie freshmen came on strong toward the end of the match, but it was too-little-too-late for Texas A&M. No. 67 Vinsant dropped his first set, 1-6, before rallying back to defeat Alvarez-Llamas, 6-1, 6-0, to get the Aggies on the board and 124th ranked Adams upset No. 119 Webb, 6-4, 6-4, from the No. 3 line to narrow the margin of defeat, 4-2.
“Losing the first set 1-6, he did a great job of problem-solving out there,” Denton said on Vinsant rallying to win in the third set. “He served well in the second and third set, which I thought was key. He was able to get off to a quick start in the second set to turn the momentum around and was able to roll that into the third set. It was a great effort from Harry and him. Shane has a lot of firepower and when he’s on, he’s on. He did a great job of getting a point on the board for us.”
“This was a great match for us as we get ready to begin SEC play,” Denton said as the team gets ready to begin its inaugural season in the Southeastern Conference. “We’re definitely battle tested. We’ve faced a lot of good teams. It should help us as we move into the conference.”
Texas A&M travels to South Carolina on Friday to begin SEC play. To learn more about the Texas A&M men’s tennis team, visit AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieMTEN on Twitter.
No. 8 Oklahoma def. No. 14 Texas A&M, 5-2
No. 1 – No. 68 Costin Paval, OU def. Junior Ore, A&M 6-4, 6-2
No. 2 – No. 65 Guillermo Alcorta, OU def. Jeremy Efferding, A&M 6-1, 6-3
No. 3 – No. 124 Harry Adams, A&M def. No. 119 Dane Webb, OU 6-4, 6-4
No. 4 – No. 67 Shane Vinsant, A&M def. Axel Alvarez-Llamas, OU 1-6, 6-1, 6-0
*No. 5 – Leonard Stakhovsky, OU def. No. 100 Jackson Withrow, A&M 6-4, 6-3
No. 6 – Peerakit Siributwong, OU def. Jordan Szabo, A&M 6-2, 6-4
No. 1 – No. 7 Adams/Vinsant, A&M vs. No. 19 Paval/Webb, OU 6-7 (unfinished)
No. 2 – Alcorta/Alvarez-Llamas, OU def. No. 40 Ore/Withrow, A&M 8-6
No. 3 – Siributwong/Formentera, OU def. Efferding/Szabo, 8-6
Order of Finish: Doubles 3, 2 Singles 2, 6, 5, 4, 3, 1
*clinched the match
Texas A&M (8-4) Oklahoma (8-2)