SEATTLE, Wash. - The Texas A&M men's tennis team dropped a heart-breaking, 4-3, decision to Tennessee at the Seattle Tennis Club in the ITA Indoor National Championships. The Aggies fall to 7-3 on the year while the Volunteers improve to 12-3.
"This was a heart-breaking loss for our team, but I'm proud of the way we fought," said head coach Steve Denton. This match was a tough pill to swallow, but we have to learn from it and move on. The guys will be excited to get back on track as Tulsa and Oklahoma come calling at the Mitchell Tennis Center."
Texas A&M earned the crucial doubles point for the first time at the ITA Indoor tournament. The pair of Jordan Szabo and Jeremy Efferding downed Hunter Reese and Brandon Fickey, 8-7 (5), from the No. 3 line. Moments later, the 40th ranked tandem of Jackson Withrow and Junior Ore upset the No. 26 tandem of Midelis Libietis and Jarryd Chaplin, 8-7 (5) at the No. 1 line to clinch the doubles point. The No. 7 duo of Harry Adams and Shane Vinsant dropped a match to Edwards Jones and John Collins, 8-5, at the No. 2 line.
"We did a great job of coming back in the doubles, winning two tiebreakers to secure the point at the one and three lines," Denton said.
Tennessee claimed the first singles point when No. 26 Reese defeated No. 124 Adams, 6-0, 6-2, from the No. 2 line to even the match at 1-1. Efferding reclaimed the lead for the Aggies when he defeated Chaplin, 6-0, 7-5, at the No. 3 line to push A&M ahead, 2-1. Texas A&M boosted the lead to 3-1 behind the racket of sophomore, Behzad Minavi, when he downed Taylor Patrick, 6-2, 7-5 at the No. 6 line. The final point, however, would elude the Aggies as they were unable to capitalize on three opportunities to clinch the victory. No. 67 Vinsant dropped his match to No. 87 Fickey, 6-3, 2-6, at the No. 4 line and Ore did everything he could to help the Aggies earn the victory, falling to No. 11 Libietis 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4). With the match tied at three-all, Szabo split the first two sets with Jones, 1-6 and 6-4 before dropping the pivotal third set, 7-5, to clinch the win for the Volunteers.
"We had great momentum as we secured a 3-1 lead," Denton said on singles, "but we just couldn't get that final elusive point to go our way. Junior lost two tiebreakers and Szabo, with the match knotted up at three apiece, was up a break in the third set (3-1) but lost his serve to go back to even. He continued to battle back and had match-point at 5-4, but couldn't convert as he netted a volley. Szabo played a courageous match, but in the end just fell short."
Texas A&M looks to get back to its winning ways on Friday at the George P. Mitchell Center against No. 17 Tulsa. First serve is slated for 5 p.m. following a time change to accommodate the Golden Hurricane's travel plans. To learn more about the Texas A&M men's tennis team, visit AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieMTEN on Twitter.
No. 14 Tennessee def. No. 15 Texas A&M, 4-3
No. 1 - No. 11 Midelis Libietis, UT def. Junior Ore, A&M 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4)
No. 2 - No. 26 Hunter Reese, UT def. No. 124 Harry Adams, A&M 6-0, 6-2
No. 3 - Jeremy Efferding, A&M def. Jarryd Chaplin, UT 6-0, 7-5
No. 4 - No. 87 Brandon Fickey, UT def. No. 67 Shane Vinsant, 6-3, 6-2
*No. 5 - Edward Jones, A&M def. Jordan Szabo, A&M 1-6, 6-4, 7-5
No. 6 - Behzad Minavi, A&M def. Taylor Patrick, UT 6-2, 7-5
No. 1 - No. 40 Withrow/Ore, A&M def. No. 26 Libietis/Chaplin, UT 8-7 (5)
No. 2 - Jones/Collins, UT def. No. 7 Adams/Vinsant, A&M 8-5
No. 3 - Szabo/Efferding, A&M def. Reese/Fickey, UT 8-7 (5)
Order of finish: Doubles 3, 1, 2 Singles 2, 3, 6, 4, 1, 5
*clinched the match
Texas A&M (7-3), Tennessee (12-3)