No. 13 Texas A&M overpowers Kentucky to open SEC Play

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas – No. 13 Texas A&M men’s tennis opened SEC play with a dominant 6-1 win, as the Aggies (8-3, 1-0 SEC) dismantled the Kentucky Wildcats (9-5, 0-1 SEC) on Friday night at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.

The Aggies stormed out of the gate, clinching the doubles point with wins at the No. 1 and No. 3 lines. A&M’s duo of Hady Habib and Pranav Kumar got the day started for the Maroon & White, defeating Ying-Ze Chen and Alexandre LeBlanc, 6-2. Juan Carlos Aguilar and Barnaby Smith clinched the point for Texas A&M, posting a 6-3 result against the Wildcat pair of Cesar Bourgois and Liam Draxl. Noah Schachter and Valentin Vacherot were behind 3-4 to the UK team of Millen Hurrion and Gabriel Diallo, but the match went unfinished once the doubles point was clinched.

A&M continued rolling once the match entered singles play, as the Aggies took five-of-the-six first sets to establish a comfortable lead. Smith battled back from a 1-4 deficit to take the first set with a score of 7-5, while Vacherot worked his way out of an 0-2 drought to win the first frame, 6-3. As the evening progressed, the Maroon & White began to assert their dominance. Schachter posted the first singles win of the match against Diallo, 6-1, 6-2, and Vacherot closed out his match against Draxl, 6-3, 6-1.

With the 3-0 lead in hand, the Aggies looked to Habib for the clincher on court two. The junior from Houston, Texas delivered in spectacular fashion, posting a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Hurrion. No. 31 Aguilar finished with a 6-2, 6-4 win against Kentucky’s Bourgois, while Smith earned his first singles ranked win in 2020, taking down No. 71 LeBlanc, 7-5, 7-5.

Following his win on Friday night, Vacherot improves to 9-0 in dual match singles play. The Senior from Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France maintains the highest ITA singles ranking of any player in the SEC, coming in at No. 3 in the latest poll from Feb. 26. No. 34 Habib earned his third straight singles victory on Friday against the Wildcats, while No. 31 Aguilar remains in the win column with his second straight triumph.

Texas A&M improves to 7-2 against Kentucky since joining the Southeastern Conference in 2012-13. A&M has rattled off four straight match victories against the Wildcats; a streak dating back to March of 2017. With the win, the Aggies improve to 8-3 while Kentucky falls to 9-5 after Friday night’s loss.

Visit 12thMan.com for more information on Texas A&M men's tennis. Aggie fans can also keep up to date with the A&M men's tennis team on Facebook or on Twitter by following @AggieMTEN.

UP NEXT

The No. 13 Aggies travel to Nashville, Tennessee, to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores at the Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Tennis Center on Sunday, March 1.

Texas A&M Quotes

Head Coach Steve Denton

On earning the first conference win of the season…

“It starts with the doubles. Our guys were fired up and ready to play tonight. We started the season over today with our first conference win, and the guys were excited about being out here and playing. You could tell that from the start. That obviously carried on through the singles. This was a really quality win against a very good SEC team. You have to be prepared to battle against all of these teams, and I thought our guys were ready tonight.”

On Valentin Vacherot’s performance on Friday…

“This is his last go around, and he’s making the most of it. He had a great fall, and he carried that through to the spring. He’s obviously playing with a lot of confidence. Got off to a bit of a rocky start tonight and lost his serve right away, but he was able to fight back through that. He played really solid, served and returned very well, played aggressively, and took it to his opponent. I’m really proud of him.”

Tennis Match Results

Kentucky vs. Texas A&M

02/28/2020 at College Station, Texas

(George P. Mitchell Tennis Center)

No. 13 Texas A&M 6, Kentucky 1

Singles Competition

1. #3 Valentin Vacherot (TAMU) def. Liam Draxl (KENT) 6-3, 6-1

2. #34 Hady Habib (TAMU) def. Millen Hurrion (KENT) 6-2, 6-2

3. #31 Juan Carlos Aguilar (TAMU) def. Cesar Bourgois (KENT) 6-2, 6-4

4. Noah Schachter (TAMU) def. Gabriel Diallo (KENT) 6-1, 6-2

5. Barnaby Smith (TAMU) def. #71 Alexandre LeBlanc (KENT) 7-5, 7-5

6. Kento Yamada (KENT) def. Pierce Rollins (TAMU) 6-2, 3-6, 7-5

Doubles Competition

1. Juan Carlos Aguilar/Barnaby Smith (TAMU) def. Cesar Bourgois/Liam Draxl (KENT) 6-3

2. Noah Schachter/Valentin Vacherot (TAMU) vs. Millen Hurrion/Gabriel Diallo (KENT) 3-4, unfinished

3. Hady Habib/Pranav Kumar (TAMU) def. Ying-Ze Chen/Alexandre LeBlanc (KENT) 6-2

Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (4,1,2,3,5,6)

Match Notes

· Texas A&M improves to 8-3 and 1-0 in SEC play following Friday night’s win.

· The Maroon & White have won the first SEC regular season match in every season since joining the league in 2012-13.

· The Aggies earned the No. 13 selection in the latest ITA Team Poll, published on Feb. 26.

· In a preseason poll of SEC coaches, the Aggies were picked to finish second in the conference.

· Kentucky falls to 9-5 and 0-1 in SEC matches following the loss.