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COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Texas A&M men's tennis team looks to continue its Southeastern Conference winning streak when it welcomes No. 68 LSU for a Friday evening match at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station. First serve is slated for 6 p.m.
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"LSU is a dangerous team with the majority of its players back from last season," A&M head coach Steve Denton said. "They are much better than their record reflects with solid players up and down their lineup. They always play us close and I don't expect this match to be any different."
11th-ranked Texas A&M (12-6, 3-1 SEC) is currently in sole possession of second place in the SEC standings behind Ole Miss. The Aggies are coming off a difficult performance against top-ranked Virginia, dropping that contest, 6-1.
The Aggies are led by 52nd-ranked sophomore Jeremy Efferding (12-3) who made history by becoming the first player from Texas A&M to knock off the No. 1 ranked player in the country. The reigning SEC Player of the Week bested Virginia's Alex Domijan, 6-3, 7-6 (4). The sophomore is tied with 77th-ranked freshman Shane Vinsant (12-5) for the team lead in singles wins with 12. Vinsant, the current and two-time honoree of SEC Freshman of the Week, boasts a 9-5 record from the No. 4 singles line. 77th-ranked Harrison Adams currently sits at third on the team in singles wins with a 10-4 mark, including a 7-1 record from the No. 3 line. Sophomores Jordan Szabo (8-6) and Behzad Minavi (7-1) and junior Junior Ore (5-9) round out the projected singles lineup for Texas A&M.
The doubles point has typically set the tone for the Aggies. In matches that they earn the early 1-0 lead, Texas A&M is 12-2. When the Maroon and White haven't gained the early advantage, they stand at 0-4. The 13th-ranked tandem of Adams and Vinsant leads the team with an 11-3 record, with nine of those wins coming from the No. 2 position. The 15th-ranked duo of Jackson Withrow and Ore ranks second on the team in doubles wins, boasting a 10-4 mark with all 10 wins coming at the top-doubles line. Szabo and Efferding finish out the projected doubles lineup with a 9-5 record.
"I looked at the Virginia match as an opportunity for our team to improve," Denton said on the most recent contest. "I am sure some of our younger players now have a better understanding on what it takes to be a championship-caliber team. Virginia is where we aspire to be and, clearly, we have some hard work and sacrifices to make to get to that point."
LSU (5-6, 0-4 SEC) enters the contest hungry for their first win in SEC play. In singles, the Tigers are led by Mark Bowtell with a 5-4 record. In doubles, the 41st-ranked pair of Chris Simpson and Stefan Szacinski lead the team with a 4-3 mark.
"We are going to have to come out with a lot of intensity to be successful tomorrow in our next step toward a conference title," Denton said. "It should make for a very exciting college tennis match."
The Texas A&M men's tennis team will be in action again on Sunday when it welcomes Arkansas to the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center to finish off the seven-match home stand. First serve is slated for 1 p.m. To learn more about the men's tennis team, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieMTEN on Twitter.