HOUSTON, Texas –The No. 8 Texas A&M men’s tennis team ended their participation in the ITA Indoor Tennis Championships with a thrilling 4-2 victory over No. 22 Illinois. Junior Ore won a third set tiebreaker 13-11 to clinch the match for the Aggies.
The maroon and white captured the doubles point to begin the match; the Aggies have only lost the doubles point one time in 11 matches this season. The 29th ranked duo of Jeremey Efferding and Jordan Szabo put away Brian Page and Julian Childers of the Fighting Illini 6-3 on court three, Harrison Adams and Shane Vinsant matched that score on the second doubles court over Jared Hitzik and Blake Bazarnik.
“I felt like our guys played well in the doubles to set the tone,” head coach Steve Denton said. “Our guys played really hard today and a couple matches went our way this time, whereas a week ago Illinois took the advantage.”
Once the match flipped to singles the Aggies momentum slowed a bit as they were only able to capture the first set on three courts. No. 22 Adams toppled No. 8 Hiltzik (6-3, 6-4) on court one, but Illinois pulled the score even at two apiece after Ross Guignon defeated Szabo (6-1, 6-5(3)) on court six and No. 30 Farris Gosea bested No. 43 Vinsant (6-3, 6-4) on court two.
“Harry winning against one of the top players in the country was huge for us,” Denton said. “He has been struggling a little bit lately and for him to come out and play lights out was big for us today and going into the rest of the season.”
Texas A&M reeled off the next two points to clinch the match 4-2, both matches took three sets to determine a victor. Withrow gutted out the win over Bazarnik on court five to set up the drama for Ore on court four.
“Jackson (Withrow) really battled to defeat (Blake) Bazarnik today,” Denton said. “Last Friday he lost in two sets, his point ended up being a key point for us today.”
Ore faced match point several times before prevailing 13-11 in the third set tie-breaker over Page (6-2, 4-6, 6-5(11). No. 25 Efferding was leading No. 24 Jared Kopinski (6-4, 3-6, 5-2 uf) in the third set, but the match was abandoned once the Aggies clinched the victory.
“Junior (Ore) battling through the set was good for his mental toughness,” Denton said. “He has been in a lot of tie-breakers lately that haven’t gone his way. I am really proud of him gutting it out today.”
The Aggies will head to Oklahoma next weekend for a Friday night match up with No. 34 Tulsa followed by a Sunday afternoon showdown with No. 7 Oklahoma. Stay tuned to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieMTEN on Twitter for coverage of Texas A&M men’s tennis.
No. 8 Texas A&M def. No. 22 Illinois, 4-2
A&M (8-3); Illinois (6-4)
No 1 - #22 Harrison Adams (TAMU) def. #8 Jared Hiltzik (ILL) 6-3, 6-4
No 2 - #30 Farris Gosea (ILL) def. #43 Shane Vinsant (TAMU) 6-3, 6-4
No 3 - #25 Jeremy Efferding (TAMU) vs. #24 Tim Kopinski (ILL) 6-4, 3-6, 5-2, unfinished
*No 4 - Junior Ore (TAMU) def. Brian Page (ILL) 6-2, 4-6, 6-5 (13-11)
No 5 - Jackson Withrow (TAMU) def. Blake Bazarnik (ILL) 6-3, 1-6, 6-3
No 6 - Ross Guignon (ILL) def. Jordan Szabo (TAMU) 6-1, 6-5 (7-3)
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (1,6,2,5,4)
*clinched the match