COLLEGE STATION – The No. 10 Texas A&M men’s tennis team was upset 4-3 by No. 17 Cal at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in just over four hours of action. The Cal Bears advanced to face Texas in the Round of 16 in Athens, Ga. Friday as they improved to 17-7 this season. The Aggie’s season came to a close at 25-7.
The home side began doubles play strong on the second and third courts, while falling behind on the first doubles court. Midway through the opening point momentum shifted in favor of A&M on the first court as No. 6 Junior Ore and Jackson Withrow won the final four points. The All-American duo shook off early jitters to defeat the No. 28 tandem of Gregory Bayane and Chase Melton.
The Bears second and third doubles teams turned the match in the visitors favor capturing the doubles point with a tiebreaker win on court three and an 8-6 decision on the second court. The loss for the 70th-ranked pair of Harrison Adams and Shane Vinsant was the first setback in 13 matches. A&M’s 89th-ranked duo of Jeremy Efferding and Jordan Szabo fell at the hands of Filip Bergevi and Mads Engsted in the tiebreaker. Sunday’s doubles defeat was just the fifth of the season for A&M.
“Doubles was a huge deal in this match,” Texas A&M men’s tennis head coach Steve Denton said. “We didn’t win that tiebreaker at three doubles and Harry (Adams) and Shane (Vinsant) were not able to consolidate their break that they had early, but our guys battled. I knew Cal was good in doubles, and I knew there was going to be a fight there.”
As play transitioned to singles play Cal maintained momentum, winning four of six first sets and putting A&M in dire need of a break trailing by a point and in serious jeopardy of the upset.
Andre Goransson of Cal made quick work of A&M’s lone senior, Junior Ore, on court four to put Cal ahead 2-0. Ore finished his A&M singles career with 64 wins to tie for 16th on A&M’s all-time wins list. The Gaithersburg, Md. Native will represent A&M alongside Withrow at the NCAA doubles championship.
No. 19 Adams gave A&M it’s much needed first point defeating No. 55 Ben McLachlan on the top court. The sophomore put on a dominating singles performance winning 10 of the last 11 games to dispatch his opponent in straight sets. The win was the ninth of the season for the New Braunfels native over a ranked player and brings his season wins total to 25. The All-SEC team member was chosen to the NCAA singles championship field.
Gregory Bayane defeated Jackson Withrow on court five to restore the Berkley bunch’s two point advantage at 3-1. Withrow, a native of Nebraska, had difficulty throughout the day falling behind in both sets as the Bears looked to advance to the Round of 16.
No. 69 Efferding pulled A&M back within a single point, wining in straight sets over Bergevi on court three. The junior from Boca Raton gutted out a tiebreaker in the first set before capturing A&M’s second point via a 6-3 win in the second set. The win was the 20th dual victory for Efferding, tying him for the 24th most in a singles season in program history.
As attention shifted to the even courts, Szabo fended off a multitude of match points in the second set. The Australian fought back to force a decisive third set on court six after winning a tiebreaker over Jayashankar in set two. Szabo rallied to tie the match for the Aggies winning 6-2 in the third set.
All the eyes from the impressive Mother’s Day crowd moved to court two to watch A&M’s 22nd-ranked Vinsant in the final match standing. The sophomore had won 13 straight decisions entering Sunday’s match and would not go down without a fight after dropping the first set 6-4. The SEC Tournament MVP thrashed Campbell Johnson 6-2 in the second set before falling victim to several debilitating bouts of cramps. Vinsant rallied to a 3-1 advantage in the pivotal third set, but cramps and Johnson’s play proved too much. Johnson clinched the Bears trip to Athens with a 6-3 third set win and in a great show of sportsmanship raced to console Vinsant as he crumbled following the matches’ final point.
“We got behind the eight ball today,” Denton added. “It’s the NCAA tournament, and our guys didn’t panic. We got behind but kept battling. Give a lot of credit to Cal, because I thought they played well today. I kind of thought that they would have difficulty with the conditions, with the humidity and stuff, but it turned out our guys were the ones that succumbed a little bit to the conditions.”
The defeat ended Texas A&M’s 20-match home win streak and was the maroon and white’s first setback at the Mitchell Tennis Center this season. Cal advanced to the Round of 16 for the fourth straight season, winning its second round match away from Berkeley for the second season in a row.
Although the team season has ended, Texas A&M will be represented at the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championship in Athens by Adams and Vinsant in singles and the duo Ore and Withrow in doubles. Stay tuned to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieMTEN on Twitter to stay up to date with the Aggies in the postseason.
#17 Cal 4, #10 Texas A&M 3
1. #19 Harrison Adams (TAMU) def. #55 Ben McLachlan (CAL) 6-4, 6-1
2. Campbell Johnson (CAL) def. #22 Shane Vinsant (TAMU) 6-4, 2-6, 6-3
3. #69 Jeremy Efferding (TAMU) def. Filip Bergevi (CAL) 7-6 (8-6), 6-3
4. Andre Goransson (CAL) def. Junior Ore (TAMU) 6-3, 6-2
5. Gregory Bayane (CAL) def. Jackson Withrow (TAMU) 6-3, 6-2
6. Jordan Szabo (TAMU) def. Nikhil Jayashankar (CAL) 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2
1. #6 Junior Ore/Jackson Withrow (TAMU) def. #28 Gregory Bayane/Chase Melton (CAL) 8-6
2. #86 Andre Goransson/Ben McLachlan (CAL) def. #70 Harrison Adams/Shane Vinsant (TAMU) 8-6
3. Filip Bergevi/Mads Engsted (CAL) def. #89 Jeremy Efferding/Jordan Szabo (TAMU) 8-7 (7-2)
Cal 17-7; National ranking #17
Texas A&M 25-7; National ranking #10
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (4,1,5,3,6,2)
NCAA Second Round