COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Texas A&M men's tennis team, 13-14 on the season, received an at-large bid to the 2012 NCAA Men's Tennis Championships today and will face Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina, 15-11 on the year, in first round action in Los Angeles, California, with host the University of Southern California Trojans, 27-1 on the year and ranked No. 1 in the country, facing Fairfield (16-4) in the other first round match.
First round matches in Los Angeles will begin on Saturday, May 12 with the Aggies facing South Carolina at 11 a.m. central (9 a.m. pacific) at Marks Stadium followed by USC and Fairfield at 2 p.m. central (12 noon pacific). The two winners will face each other at 2 p.m. central (12 noon pacific) on Sunday, May 13.
"This is the first time that we have not hosted in several years (since 2008)," Aggie head coach Steve Denton said. "Clearly, we are going to have to earn our way to Athens by playing some great tennis. The season starts over and every team that made it has a chance. I thought our win against Texas lifted our spirits and while this is a very tricky time of the year with our team involved in finals, I have been very encouraged by what I have seen in practice the past two days. It is somewhat ironic that we get a taste of the SEC with our match against South Carolina. I know that they have had a solid year and like us have played a very difficult schedule so we will get a very stern test from them. Coach (Bob) McKinley and I will make sure that we don't look ahead. We have to get the guys in tournament mode which is one match a time. Our team will be ready to battle next week and will be excited about the opportunity to play in Los Angeles at the USC regional. I have said all along that I love the fight of this team and we have been on the verge of some great wins. Why not put it all together next week?"
This marks the 20th overall appearance for the men's tennis team and the 19th consecutive season for the Aggies to reach the NCAA Championships. Last year, the Aggies were the No. 9 seed and hosted the first and second rounds defeating Alcorn State and LSU before advancing to the Round of 16 at Stanford where they lost to the host Cardinal, 4-2.
Texas A&M, currently ranked No. 34 in the country, has faced a very challenging schedule this year which has prepared this team for the NCAA Championships. The Aggies have faced No. 1 USC, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Virginia, No. 6 Kentucky, No. 9 Mississippi State, No. 12 Oklahoma, No. 18 Texas, No. 19 Texas Tech, No. 20 Tulsa, No. 21 LSU, No. 24 Illinois, No. 28 Baylor and No. 29 Notre Dame. Texas A&M is 4-14 against Top 30 competition and has had eight matches decided by 4-3 decisions and A&M is 2-6 in those matches this spring.
The Aggies are led by three seniors, co-captains Colin Hoover (Victoria, Texas), Alexis Klegou (Dunkerque, France) and John Lewis (Birmingham, Alabama). Klegou is ranked No. 34 in the land in singles while Hoover and Lewis are ranked No. 79 in doubles. The top Aggie duo is freshman Jackson Withrow (Omaha, Nebraska) and Junior Ore (Gaithersburg, Maryland) who are ranked No. 47 in the latest rankings.
TEXAS A&M MEN'S TENNIS NCAA HISTORY: 20 times (19 straight)
2012-- Texas A&M vs. South Carolina (Los Angeles, CA/USC host)
#1 seed USC vs. Fairfield
2011 (9th seed)-- Host 1st and 2nd rounds: Beat Alcorn State (4-0); beat LSU (4-0)
Lost in Round of 16 to #8 Stanford (4-2) (Stanford)
2010 (10th seed)-- Host 1st and 2nd rounds: Beat Prairie View A&M (4-0); beat Ole Miss (4-2)
Lost in Round of 16 to #7 Baylor (4-1) (Georgia)
2009 (15th seed)-- Host 1st and 2nd rounds: Beat Binghamton (4-0); beat Arizona (4-0)
Lost in Round of 16 to #2 Ole Miss (4-1) (College Station)
2008-- Beat SMU (4-1); lost to host #9 Baylor (4-2)
2007-- Beat Rice (4-2); lost to host #3 Baylor (4-0)
2006-(16th seed)-- Host 1st and 2nd rounds: Beat UTA (4-0); lost to Notre Dame (4-2)
2005-(16th seed)-- Beat Montana State (4-0); beat Boise State (4-0) (Boise, ID)
Lost in Round of 16 to #1 Baylor (4-0) (College Station)
2004-- Beat Alabama (4-0); beat host Virginia Commonwealth (4-0) (Richmond, VA)
Lost in Round of 16 to #3 UCLA (4-1) (Tulsa)
2003-(10th seed)-- Host 1st and 2nd rounds: Beat Maryland-BC (4-0); beat South Florida (4-1)
Lost in Round of 16 to #6 Vanderbilt (4-1) (Georgia)
2002-(16th seed)-- Host 1st and 2nd rounds: Beat Southern (4-0); beat LSU (4-0)
Lost in Round of 16 to #1 Georgia (4-1) (College Station)
2001-(7th seed)-- Host 1st and 2nd rounds: Beat St. Bonaventure (4-0); Beat Vanderbilt (4-0)
Won in Round of 16 against #15 LSU (4-1) (Georgia)
Lost in Elite Eight to #4 TCU (4-0) (Georgia)
2000-(7th seed)-- Host 1st and 2nd rounds: Beat Army (4-0); Beat Louisiana-Lafayette (4-0)
Lost in Round of 16 against #9 Tennessee (4-3) (Georgia)
1999-- Beat Texas Tech (4-3); lost to host #4 Texas (4-1)
**NCAA expanded to current 64-team team in 1999.
1998-- At Austin: Beat Arkansas-Little Rock (4-0); beat Arkansas (4-3)
Lost to SMU (4-3) in regional championship
1997-- At Fort Worth: Lost to Texas (5-0)
1996-- At Austin: Beat Texas Tech (4-3); lost to host Texas (4-3)
1995-- Hosted: Beat Arkansas (4-1); lost to Texas (4-3)
1994-- At Houston: Beat Texas Tech (4-0); beat Arkansas (4-3)
Advanced to Round of 16 and lost to Duke (4-1) (Notre Dame)
1985-- Lost in Round of 16 to Pepperdine (5-3)