COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Senior John Lewis clinched the match for Texas A&M and the doubles point proved crucial once again between these two rivals as the Aggies defeated the Texas Longhorns, 4-2, in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championships being hosted at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center on the Texas A&M campus this weekend. Texas A&M advances to the Saturday semifinal match against regular-season champion Oklahoma with first serve set for 11 a.m.
"We have played them four times and the doubles point has been the deciding factor in all four matches," Aggie head coach Steve Denton said. "The team that has won the doubles has won the match. I felt like it was crucial again today and the fact that we were able to continue the momentum by winning four out of six first sets. I thought our guys did a good job of keeping the pressure on them."
A&M won the Texas Cup indoors in Houston by a 4-3 margin. A week later, Texas won 4-1 at the National Indoor Team Championships played in Virginia. In Big 12 play, Texas won in Austin by a slim 4-3 decision earlier in April.
All three Aggie seniors played key roles as Alexis Klegou and Colin Hoover won the deciding match in doubles and John Lewis clinched the overall match at No. 5 singles for the defending Big 12 Championship Aggies.
On Friday, the No. 1 doubles team of freshman Jackson Withrow and sophomore Junior Ore, ranked No. 47 in the national rankings, defeated the No. 36-ranked Longhorn duo of Camillone and Holiner, 8-3, to be the first match in the books.
The Horns followed with a 8-2 win at No. 2 doubles with the deciding match coming at No. 3 doubles where the Aggie co-captains, Alexis Klegou and Colin Hoover, got a service break over Texas' Hess-Olesen and Lewis to go up 7-5 and the Aggies served out the match to clinch the doubles point.
Texas would tie the match at one with Sudanwa Sitaram defeating Hoover at No. 3 singles, but Klegou at No. 1 singles, ranked No. 34 in the land, would beat the Horns' Soren Hess-Olesen, 6-3, 6-1 to keep the pressure on.
Texas would tie the match at two with a win by Daniel Whitehead over Junior Ore at No. 2 singles.
Redshirt freshman Jackson Withrow was inserted in the lineup at No. 6 singles and got off to a quick start and was able to close out his match in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, over Loyd Glasspool to give A&M a 3-2 edge.
At No. 5 singles, John Lewis, who has a brother who played doubles for Texas, won a 7-2 tiebreaker over Ben Chen in the first set to take a 7-6 lead and then finished out the match with a 6-4 win in the second set to clinch the victory for A&M.
The Aggies, ranked No. 34 in the country, are 13-13 on the year after facing one of the most difficult schedules in the country. The Longhorns, ranked No. 18 in the land, are 16-9.
"I feel like this win today helped the team," Denton said. "We have had a lot of disappointing close losses and they have continued to battle and fight. Today, does a world of good for their confidence. I am excited for them for that. I know they are excited to continue in the tournament."
Denton, a former Texas All-American tennis player, had this to say about the rivalry.
"I am really sad that the rivalry is potentially not going to be going forward from here. I think administrators shouldn't decide the fate of all the different sports," Denton explained. "I feel that this rivalry is for the kids in Texas, the high school coaches in Texas and the fans of both of these great schools. There is no better rivalry than Texas and A&M in any sport."