The No. 12-ranked Texas A&M men’s tennis team were edged by No. 7 Baylor, 5-2, in a heated Battle of the Brazos dual match held Wednesday night at the Baylor Tennis Center.
After dropping the doubles point for the fourth-straight match, the Aggies (12-6, 3-1) were forced to rely on their singles lineup to gain some ground against the Bears (19-5, 4-0). Sophomore Alexey Grigorov (Moscow, Russia) was the first A&M player to counter and tie things up at 1-1 with a straight-set victory over Baylor’s Attila Bucko, 6-1, 6-4, at No. 4. With the home crowd and home-court advantage behind them, the Bears claimed victories at the No. 1, No. 5 and No. 6 lines to seal their eighth consecutive win of the season and remain unbeaten in Big 12 Conference play.
Sophomore Wil Spencer (Ponce de Leon, Fla.) picked up A&M’s second and final point of the match after a hard-fought three-setter against Dominik Mueller at No. 3. Down 2-6 in the first set, Spencer rallied back to win a pair of tiebreakers in the second (7-5) and third sets (10-7) to improve his team-leading league mark to an undefeated 4-0 against Big 12 opponents this season.
“We needed to win the doubles point tonight,” Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton said. “We won at three doubles and had a chance to win at two. For whatever reason, Conor (Pollock) and Austin (Krajicek) have been struggling (at No. 1 doubles) right now. We were the favorite in that match, but give Baylor credit. They played well tonight and winning the doubles point put us in the hole a little bit. We had chances in singles. We got off to a good start by winning the first set in a couple of matches. Wil (Spencer) did a good job of fighting back and beating (Dominik) Mueller. (Alexey) Grigorov played a complete match and that’s the best tennis he’s played since he has been here. We battled, but we didn’t quite come through. We have to be able to deal with these situations on the road in front of a hostile crowd better. They (Baylor) were a little better tonight, but not by much.”
The doubles point came down to court two as Grigorov and freshman Colin Hoover (Victoria, Texas) had a chance to break serve and tie the match at 6-all, but lost two ad games to Baylor’s Denes Lukacs and Maros Horny which resulted in a close 8-6 setback at No. 2. The third-ranked All-American duo of Conor Pollock (San Antonio, Texas) and Austin Krajicek (Brandon, Fla.) fell to No. 74-ranked David Galic and Jordan Rux, 8-5, at the top of the lineup, but A&M was able to level the playing field as Spencer and junior Marcus Lunt (San Antonio, Texas) broke serve three times after an 0-1 start and went on to beat BU’s Mueller and Julian Bley, 8-5, at No. 3.
“They (Lunt and Spencer) were down a little bit, but were able to fight through it,” Denton said. “They did a very good job and it was good for them to get back to their winning ways. Now, we have to get our remaining two doubles teams to come through for us. We actually played really good doubles particularly at No. 2 and No. 3 tonight. Conor and Austin just weren’t playing at the level that they are capable of playing tonight.”
Up next, A&M will host No. 55 Nebraska (16-6, 0-3) on Friday, April 10 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. First serve between the Aggies and Cornhuskers is set for 6 p.m. (CT).
“We are still in the thick of this (Big 12) race and there is still a lot of tennis to be played,” Denton said. “We know that we’ve had a really good run and one loss to a really good team on their home court is nothing to be concerned about. We just have to get back to work, get ready to play Nebraska on Friday night and come out with a lot of energy. We are going to be fine. We are still hitting the ball and we are competing really hard. It just didn’t happen for us tonight. I was really proud of how well the guys competed against Baylor.”