LOS ANGELES, CA - The Texas A&M men's tennis team, 13-14, opens play against Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina, 15-11, in the first round of the NCAA Championships at Marks Stadium in Los Angeles, California, with first serve set for Saturday, May 12 at 11 a.m. central. Host and overall No. 1 seed and three-time defending national champion USC Trojans, 27-1, will face Fairfield, 16-4, at 2 p.m. central on Saturday.
"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. I have been very encouraged by what I have seen in practice the past few 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."
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 overall 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 is currently ranked No. 34 in the country and has faced a very difficult schedule which included a non-conference match against the USC Trojans. The Trojans posted a 5-2 win and snapped the Aggies' home winning streak of 47 matches dating back to the start of the 2010 season. The two points came from senior John Lewis (Birmingham, AL) and sophomore Junior Ore (Gaithersburg, MD) in singles play.
In addition to facing No. 1 USC, the Aggies faced 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. A&M is 4-14 against Top 30 competition and has had eight matches decided by 4-3 decisions and the Aggies are 2-6 in those matches.
In addition to senior Lewis, the Aggie senior co-captains Colin Hoover (Victoria, TX) and Alexis Klegou (Dunkerque, France) have been excellent leaders. Klegou is ranked No. 34 in singles and Hoover and Lewis have combined in doubles to be ranked No. 79 in the country. The top Aggie doubles tandem is freshman Jackson Withrow (Omaha, NE) and sophomore Ore who are ranked No. 47 in the latest rankings.
The winners of the two first-round matches will face each other on Sunday at 2 p.m. central and the winner of the second round match advances to Georgia and the Round of 16.