COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The 11th-ranked and 12th-seeded Texas A&M men’s tennis team downed the 21st-ranked Texas Longhorns, 4-3, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in front of a season-high 594 fans. The Aggies advance to the Round of 16 to face Ohio State at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in the Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana, Illinois on May 16. The Maroon and White improve to 19-12 on the season while the Longhorns fall to 17-9.
“It’s great. Anytime you beat Texas it’s a great win, especially when you’re in the NCAA Championships and playing for a spot in the Sweet 16,” Texas A&M head coach and Texas alum Steve Denton said. “It’s more significant because of that, but also because it is Texas and we’re such fierce rivals. The teams are very equal, so it was just an exciting victory for our team. I thought this was a dead-even match, even though sometimes rankings can be a little bit skewed. You saw how close the teams were. Obviously we jumped on them in the doubles and then we were able to win a point or two, but then they came right back and then they were ahead 3-2. This was the first time this year where we’ve been down 3-2 and been able to come back and win the match. Really, the tiebreakers were the order of the day for us – Jackson [Withrow] coming back and winning that tiebreaker after being down 6-2 in the tiebreaker, which I was watching from the scoreboard, and then Junior winning two tiebreakers to clinch the match for us”
The No. 8 pair of Junior Ore and Jackson Withrow made quick work of the 41st-ranked team of Chris Camilone and David Holiner, 8-1, from the top-doubles line. The pair built a 5-0 lead before dropping their first and only game in the victory.
Minutes later, the 29th-ranked freshman tandem of Harry Adams and Shane Vinsant finished off Ben Chen and Daniel Whitehead, 8-2, from the No. 2 line to secure the doubles point for the Maroon and White. The pair was able to build a 4-1 lead through the first five games, breaking the Longhorns twice over that span.
For the second time this weekend, the Aggies carried the momentum from winning the doubles point by stretching out wins in four-of-six first sets in singles.
Adams, the 103rd-ranked singles player in the country, made a terrific comeback in the second set to push the Aggies lead to 2-0. After claiming the first set 6-1 over 108th-ranked Whitehead, the New Braunfels native dropped the first three games in the second set and trailed 5-2 before winning five consecutive games to win the set and his match for the Aggies.
The Longhorns cut the deficit in half when 37th-ranked Soren Hess-Olesen upset 18th-ranked Jeremy Efferding, 6-3, 7-6 (0), at the No. 1 line to make the score 2-1. Efferding saw a 4-1 lead collapse over his next four games and was unable to recover in the tiebreaker.
Seconds later, Texas tied the match when Sudanwa Sitaram ousted No. 76 Vinsant in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, at the No. 4 line to even the match up at 2-2.
UT would take the lead when Holiner rebounded against Behzad Minavi. The Houston native was dominant in the first set, winning 6-0 but couldn’t find his shot after that as he fell in the next two sets, 6-2, 6-2, at the No. 6 line to give Texas the 3-2 edge.
Withrow wasted no time in tying the match up at three apiece. The Omaha, Neb., native squandered several opportunities to win the match before going to a tiebreaker. After serving for match point at 5-4 and 6-5, the sophomore couldn’t close the deal. Withrow rallied back from a sizable deficit in the tiebreaker to win 6-4, 7-6 (7) at the No. 5 line.
With the match evened up at three, all eyes and spectators gathered around the No. 2 court which would decide the outcome of this outstanding college tennis match. As would only be fitting, a tiebreaker in the third-set would decide the outcome after 100th-ranked Ore stole the first set from 122nd-ranked Lloyd Glasspool 7-6 (2) despite trailing 5-3 and 6-5. Glasspool cruised in the second set to a 6-3 victory. In the third set, both sides each broke their opponent once and held serve the remainder of the way into the tiebreaker.
In the deciding games, Ore broke Glasspool’s serve in the first game to earn an early 1-0 advantage. The junior held serve over the next two games to push his advantage to 3-0. Glasspool would respond, however, by winning each of his next two serves to cut the lead to 3-2. With each side holding serve over the next three serves, Ore broke Glasspool in the eighth game to take a 6-2 lead. After being unable to break Glasspool for the match, Ore placed a perfect winner after serving to secure the match 7-6 (2), 3-6, 7-6 (3) and send the Aggies to the Sweet-16 against Ohio State.
“We’ve had some battles where we’ve lost three or four of these 4-3 matches, 7-6 in the third, so I’ve got to tell you I wasn’t all that confident,” Denton said. “But I was confident in the fact that we would fight and that [Junior Ore] would play well. I said that yesterday – I thought we’d play well today. Whether that would be good enough to win the match remained to be seen. He was able to just have enough in the tank. There at the end he played two good tiebreakers, because the other boy actually outplayed him for a lot of the match and probably won more games than he did. He was big in both tiebreakers and he took care of his serve, so that turned out to be the difference for us.”
Texas A&M will be in action again on May 16 when the Aggies take on the No. 5 seed Ohio State Buckeyes at 4 p.m. (CT) in the round of 16 at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in the Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana, Ill. To learn more about the men’s tennis team, visit AggieAtheltics.com and follow @AggieMTEN on Twitter
No. 11 Texas A&M def. No. 21 Texas, 4-3
No. 1 – No. 37 Soren Hess-Olesen, UT def. No. 18 Jeremy Efferding, A&M 6-3, 7-6 (0)
*No. 2 – No. 100 Junior Ore, A&M def. No. 122 Lloyd Glasspool, UT 7-6 (2), 3-6, 7-6 (3)
No. 3 – No. 103 Harry Adams, A&M def. No. 108 Daniel Whitehead, UT 6-1, 7-5
No. 4 –Sudanwa Sitaram, UT def. No. 76 Shane Vinsant, A&M 6-4, 6-4
No. 5 – Jackson Withrow, A&M def. Nick Naumann, UT 6-4, 7-6 (7)
No. 6 –David Holiner, UT def. Behzad Minavi, A&M 0-6, 6-2, 6-2
No. 1 – No. 8 Ore/Withrow, A&M def. No. 41 Camillone/Holiner, UT 8-1
No. 2 – No. 29 Adams/Vinsant, A&M def. Chen/Whitehead, UT 8-2
No. 3 – Efferding/Szabo, A&M vs. Glasspool/Hess-Olesen, UT 5-4 (unfinished)
Order of finish: Doubles 1, 2 Singles 3, 1, 4, 6, 5, 2
*clinched the match
Texas A&M (19-12); Texas (17-9)