COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Texas A&M men's tennis team had a strong showing in the opening day of the Conference Challenge at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. The Aggies went a combined 6-2 in doubles and 5-3 in singles.
"There were great matches all around today," Texas A&M assistant coach Bob McKinley said after the contest. “That’s exactly what we need this time of year is to play competitive matches. I feel like we won more than our share. Obviously when you lose there’s a disappointment there, but overall I was happy for the day.”
In doubles, the third-ranked tandem of Junior Ore and Jackson Withrow knocked off two top-20 opponents in Illinois' tenth-ranked pair of Ross Guignon and Tim Kopinski, 8-7 (7) in their first contest and Harvard's 20th-ranked duo of Denis Nguyen and Casey MacMaster, 8-5, in their second contest.
The Aggies' 12th-ranked sophomore team of Harrison Adams and Shane Vinsant also upended Harvard's No. 20 duo of Nguyen and MacMaster, 8-7 (6), in the day’s opening match. In their second match, Second Team All-SEC pair downed Illinois' Farris Gosea and Blake Bazarnik, 8-5.
Junior's Jeremy Efferding and Jordan Szabo also posted two doubles wins, ousting Illinois' 56th-ranked team of Jared Hiltzik and Alex Jesse in a thrilling tiebreaker match, 8-7 (10). In the pairs second contest, Efferding and Szabo topped Harvard'd duo of Alex Steinroeder and Kelvin Lam, 8-1.
Junior Behzad Minavi and freshman Tito Moreiras came up just short in their first round contest against Harvard’s duo of Steinroeder and Lam, falling 8-6.
Newcomers Frankie Colunga and Max Montague also dropped a tight contest in their first matchup together, narrowly losing to Illinois’ 20th-ranked combination of Hiltzik and Jesse.
In singles, Texas A&M overcame an early deficit on two courts in which players failed to win the first set. 11th-ranked Efferding powered through the second and third sets to a first round victory over Nguyen of Harvard, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Minavi also lost his first set in a tiebreaker, 6-7 (0), but cruised to a 6-3 victory in the second set. The junior from Houston won the shortened third set, 1-0.
After struggling with an injury, 67th-ranked Adams retired after dropping the first set, 6-0.
Vinsant, the No. 56 ranked player in the country, and juniors Szabo and Withrow all were dominant on their way to victories in straight sets. Vinsant downed Nicky Hu of Harvard, 6-2, 6-4, while Withrow surged to a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Brian Page of Illinois. Szabo was perhaps the most dominant in his win, cruising to a 6-0, 6-1 win over Illinois’ Julian Childers.
Senior Ore and freshman Colunga both dropped heartbreaking contests. Ore forced a third set after splitting the first two, 3-6 and 6-1, but was unable to find a groove in the decisive set, falling 6-1 to Gosea of Illinois. Colunga mounted a late rally in the second set, but came up just short in the tiebreaker, falling 4-6, 6-7 (4) to Andrew Ball of Harvard.
The Conference Challenge continues tomorrow at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center with first serve in doubles coming at 9 a.m. To learn more about the men’s tennis team, visit AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieMTEN on Twitter.
FIRST ROUND (DOUBLES)
No. 3 Ore/Withrow, A&M def. No. 10 Guignon/Kopinski, Ill. 8-7 (7)
No. 12 Vinsant/Adams, A&M def. No. 20 Nguyen/MacMasters, HU 8-7 (6)
Szabo/Efferding, A&M def. No. 56 Hiltzik/Jesse, Ill. 8-7 (10)
Steinroeder/Lam, HU def. Minavi/Moreiras, A&M 8-6
Gosea/Bazarnik, Ill. def. Yeung/Hu, HU 8-2
Page/Childers, Ill. def. Beltrame/Haughey, HU 8-4
SECOND ROUND (DOUBLES)
No. 3 Ore/Withrow, A&M def. No. 20 Nguyen/MacMasters, HU 8-5
No. 12 Vinsant/Adams, A&M def. Gosea/Bazarnik, Ill. 8-5
Efferding/Szabo, A&M def. Steinroeder/Lam, HU 8-1
No. 56 Hiltzik/Jesse, Ill. def. Colunga/Montague, A&M 8-7 (4)
No. 10 Guignon/Kopinski, Ill. def. Yeung/Hu, HU 8-5
Beltrame/Ball, HU def. Page/Childers, Ill. 8-6
FIRST ROUND (SINGLES)
No. 17 Jared Hiltzik, Ill. def. No. 67 Harrison Adams, A&M 6-0, ret.
Jordan Szabo, A&M def. Julian Childers, Ill. 6-0, 6-1
Alex Jesse, Ill. def. Conor Haughey, HU 6-0, 6-2
No. 56 Shane Vinsant, A&M def. Nicky Hu, HU 6-2, 6-4
Jackson Withrow, A&M def. Brian Page, Ill. 6-3, 6-3
Behzad Minavi, A&M def. Alex Steinroeder, HU 6-7 (0), 6-3, 1-0
Farris Gosea, Ill. def. No. 78 Junior Ore, A&M 6-3, 1-6, 6-1
Andrew Ball, HU def. Frankie Colunga, A&M 6-4, 7-6 (4)
Brian Yeung, HU def. Blake Bazarnik, Ill. 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3
No. 11 Jeremy Efferding, A&M def. Denis Nguyen, HU 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
No. 121 Tim Kopinski, Ill. def. Sebastian Beltrame, HU 4-6, 6-2, 4-3 ret.
Ross Guignon, Ill. def. Kelvin Lam, HU 2-6, 7-5, 6-4