COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The No. 26 Texas A&M men's tennis team looks to get off to a hot start in 2013 as it travels to Frisco, Texas, Saturday for its first dual matches of the season against SMU and Nicholls State. The Aggies open the doubleheader against SMU at 11 a.m. and then face Nicholls State at 4 p.m. All matches will be held at the Lakes Tennis Academy.
"We are very excited to get the season underway this weekend," Aggie men's tennis head coach Steve Denton said. "Our team has been beating up on each other during our preseason camp. Coach (Bob) McKinley and I are very impressed on how well our young team has competed thus far against each other. We have had some very spirited practice sessions. SMU had a close match with Texas this past weekend and will be a stern road test for our team."
The Aggies return seven members from last season's 14-15 squad that advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament before falling to the eventual national champions in USC. Headlining the group of returners are sophomores Jeremy Efferding and Jordan Szabo, ranked No. 87 and No. 103, respectively, in the preseason ITA singles rankings. In addition, junior Junior Ore and sophomore Behzad Minavi, who claimed the singles (Ore) and doubles (Ore/Minavi) championships at the Rice/MET Indoor Tennis Tournament last weekend, look to use that victory as a springboard for the upcoming season. Other notable returners are senior Niall Angus, junior Alberto Bautista and sophomore Jackson Withrow.
The Aggies also welcome newcomers Harrison Adams and Shane Vinsant. The freshmen duo is ranked sixth in the nation after advancing to the USTA/ITA Indoor Nationals in the fall.
SMU features six returning players from last season's 9-12 team, including sophomore Arturs Kazijevs who is ranked 83rd nationally in singles. Texas A&M and SMU last met on the court last spring in a 7-0 Aggie victory at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station.
Nicholls State returns three letterwinners from last season's 10-10 roster, headlined by senior Dmitry Kozionov (12-6 singles; 11-8 doubles) and junior Damian Despotovski (10-10 singles; 10-8 doubles). The Aggies' last meeting with Nicholls State came in 2010 when Texas A&M claimed a 6-1 win over the Colonels.
The Aggies will be in action again on January 26 when they travel to Palo Alto, Calif., to take on No. 10 Stanford and either No. 29 Texas Tech or No. 27 San Diego at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend.