COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The No. 15 Texas A&M men's tennis team takes on several of the top teams in the country this weekend as the Aggies compete at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Seattle, Washington, at the Nordstrom Tennis Center and the Seattle Tennis Club.
Live scoring and video for the entire event can be found at http://www.gohuskies.com/sports/m-tennis/13-ita-indoors.html
The Aggies, with a perfect 7-0 record, face defending ITA National Indoor Champion, USC, which also features a perfect record at 9-0 at 1 p.m. on Friday in the first round of the 16-team tournament. The winner advances to the quarterfinals and faces the winner of the No. 10 seed Mississippi State and No. 7 seed Kentucky matchup.
"They obviously have a championship mentality with the success they've had the past few years," said head coach Steve Denton on USC. "They are the champs until someone dethrones them. Having said that, I really like our team and the way we've been playing. We have great competitors and momentum on our side right now. I think we'll play very well tomorrow."
Texas A&M's half of the draw might look like a preview for the remainder of the season with six of the 11 opposing teams in the bracket are members of the Southeastern Conference and three other opponents are featured on the schedule for A&M. No. 6 Georgia, No. 12 Ole Miss, No. 14 Tennessee and No. 3 UCLA round out the remaining teams in A&M's half of the bracket while No. 1 Virginia, No. 16 Washington, No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 9 Duke, No. 4 Ohio State, No. 13 California, No. 5 Pepperdine and No. 11 Florida round out the remaining teams in the tournament.
"These are the best teams in the country," Denton said regarding the tournament field. "This will likely be a preview for the Sweet-Sixteen of the NCAA tournament in May. We're very excited to be a part of this tournament."
The Aggies punched their ticket to the Indoor Championship by sweeping both No. 10 Stanford and No. 26 San Diego, 4-0 in Palo Alto. In its most recent match, Texas A&M upset No. 4 Ohio State in a thrilling 4-3 victory for the Aggies.
67th ranked Shane Vinsant (6-1) and 124th ranked Harry Adams(6-0), both freshmen, lead the team in singles wins while a trio of sophomores in No. 100 Jackson Withrow, Jordan Szabo and Jeremy Efferding are all close behind with 5-1 records, apiece. Junior Junior Ore rounds out the squad with a 4-1 record. The Aggies, as a team, are 34-5 during singles play on the spring.
In doubles, the 40th ranked duo of Ore and Withrow lead the team with a 6-0 record while the 7th ranked tandem of Adams and Vinsant stands at 5-0. The pair of Efferding and Szabo rounds out the squad at 4-1. Texas A&M stands at a combined 16-1 overall in doubles play during dual matches.
Freshmen Adams and Vinsant have both claimed SEC weekly honors in their young careers. Adams was named SEC Freshmen of the Week on January 30 while Vinsant currently holds the same weekly honors.
Southern Cal (9-0) has defeated five ranked opponents on the season, including No. 19 Stanford, No. 13 California and No. 17 Texas.
The Trojans currently feature seven ranked singles players in No. 10 Ray Sarmiento, No. 24 Roberto Quiroz, No. 27 Emilio Gomez, No. 61 Eric Johnson, No. 78 Max De Vroome, No. 84 Yannick Hanfmann and No. 121 Jonny Wang. Quiroz and Gomez lead the team with both posting an 8-0 record. De Vroome sits at 7-1, Johnson stands at 6-0, Hanfmann (4-0) and Wang (4-1) each have four wins apiece. Sarmiento rounds out the squad with a 3-0 record.
"In singles, I give the slight edge to USC on paper," Denton said on the singles matchup, "but we all know these matches are won by the team that has a great attitude, that competes hard and believes they will win the match, not on past success or reputation. We're looking forward to the challenge that USC presents."
In doubles, the duo of Sarmiento and Hanfmann play the No. 1 line and boast a 5-0 record. Playing the No. 2 line is Quiroz and De Vroome with an 8-0 record overall and 4-0 from the No. 2 position. Rounding out the lineup is the tandem of Johnson and Gomez with a 3-1 record at the No. 3 slot.
"Both teams have had a lot of success in doubles so far this season. I feel we matchup really well there," Denton said regarding the doubles matchup.
The Aggies last matchup with the Trojans came in the second round of the NCAA tournament last season. Texas A&M dropped a 4-0 decision to USC which eventually won its fourth consecutive national championship.
After the Aggies conclude the tournament in Seattle, they return to the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center for a dual match against 17th ranked Tulsa on Feb. 22. The start time for the match against the Golden Hurricanes has been moved up from 6 p.m. to 5 p.m. to accommodate travel plans. To learn more about the Texas A&M men's tennis team visit AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieMTEN on Twitter.