ORLANDO, Florida -- Texas A&M’s Hady Habib earned All-American honors while No. 8 Carlos Aguilar and Barnaby Smith claimed a top-10 doubles victory on the second day of NCAA Men’s Tennis Individual Championships at the USTA National Campus.
“I thought Hady [Habib] raised his level at the end of the second set to win the tiebreaker and then used that momentum to get an early break in the third set,” Texas A&M men’s tennis head coach Steve Denton said. “After that break in the third set, Hady really got on a roll. I am really proud of his effort today. He really earned that win today.”
No. 58 Habib defeated No. 46 Alex Brown of Illinois in three-sets to advance to the round of 16 and earn ITA All-American honors for the first time in his career. Habib dropped a first set tiebreaker before winning a tiebreaker of his own in the middle set then dominating the third set to secure the win. Habib faces a familiar opponent, No. 4 Alex Rybakov of TCU, for a place in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Habib and Rybakov squared off in Fort Worth earlier this season, with the Horned Frog lefty edging out a victory in a third-set.
“After a tough first set tiebreaker I just kept playing tennis and tried to stay positive,” Habib said. “I am really excited to play [Alex] Rybakov tomorrow, he is a really solid player that I had a really tough match with earlier this season.”
No. 8 Aguilar and Smith faced the toughest first round opponent of any of the seeded doubles teams, opposing No. 10 Branden Holt and Riley Smith of USC. The Maroon & White duo dropped the first set 6-3 before forcing a third-set super tiebreaker with a 6-2 victory in the second frame. In the breaker, the Aggies trailed 8-5 in a race to 10 points before they reeled off five straight points and secured entry into Wednesday’s second round.
“We are really proud of the way Carlos rebounded after a tough singles match this morning,” Texas A&M men’s tennis assistant coach Kevin O’Shea said. “USC played lights out in the first set and I told Carlos and Barney to stick with the game plan. Even down 8-5 in the tiebreaker, they kept believing and were able to play at a really high level. That was a great way to end the day, Barney was amazing off the ground and in the returns. Carlos served amazing even after his tough result earlier in the day.”
Aguilar and Smith are scheduled to face No. 50 Joel Gamerov and August Holmgren of San Diego, Wednesday, for a place in the quarterfinals.
“As a team we played pretty well today and played our best tennis in the big moments,” Aguilar said. “We knew that they were going to be tough to play against, they were ranked really high all season and just barely missed getting a national seed. We returned serve great today, which was really important because they both have a really big serve. We were clutch at the end of the tiebreaker to get the win, but now we have to start getting ready for tomorrow’s match.”
“We had a great win today against a really solid team from USC,” Smith said. “We were mentally solid throughout the match and found the extra gear in the tiebreaker down 8-5. I’m really proud of Carlos bouncing back from a tough singles match earlier today and playing so well on the doubles court. We are excited to get back out there again tomorrow.”
Aguilar opened the day with a tough 7-6, 6-2 setback to No. 22 Jack Lin of Columbia in the singles bracket.
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2019 NCAA Singles and Doubles National Championships
Round of 64
No. 58 Hady Habib (TAMU) def. No. 16 Nicolas Moreno De Alboran (UCSB), 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5)
No. 31 Carlos Aguilar (TAMU) def. No. 7 Christian Sigsgaard (TEXAS), 6-2, 6-3
Round of 32
No. 58 Hady Habib (TAMU) def. No. 46 Alex Brown (ILL) 6-7, 7-6, 6-2
No. 22 Jack Lin (Columbia) def. No. 31 Carlos Aguilar (TAMU) 7-6, 6-2
Round of 16
No. 58 Hady Habib (TAMU) vs. No. 4 Alex Rybakov (TCU) 6-7, 7-6, 6-2
Round of 32
No. 8 Carlos Aguilar / Barnaby Smith (TAMU) def. No. 10 Brandon Holt / Riley Smith (USC) 3-6. 6-2, 10-8
Round of 16
No. 8 Carlos Aguilar / Barnaby Smith (TAMU) vs. No. 50 Joel Gamerov / August Holmgren (USD)