Senior All-American Conor Pollock (San Antonio, Texas) closed out the final home regular-season match of his career by leading the No. 13-ranked Texas A&M men’s tennis team to a 4-3 victory over No. 14 Texas in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown held Thursday night before a crowd of 611 fans at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
Pollock, No. 19 nationally in the latest Campbell/ITA rankings, served out his match at the top of the lineup to dismantle No. 21-ranked Dimitar Kutrovsky in three sets, 7-5, 1-6, 6-4, to clinch the Aggies’ first win over the Longhorns since 2005 which ended a six-match losing streak in the all-time series. It also marked the first-ever victory over Texas in the Steve Denton Era and first in six tries for Pollock who was honored prior to the match on Senior Night with his mother, Julie, and sister, Medina, in attendance.
“It’s fitting for Conor, as great of a career as he’s had here, it’s a storybook ending for him,” Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton said. “It couldn’t have come down to anything better than that. He struggled a little bit in the second set, but he came through like he has so many times for us. When the chips were down, he was still able to get up in the third and just continue to hold serve. It felt really good to get that fourth point (in the match).”
The Aggies improve to 14-7 on the season and 5-1 in league play to earn the No. 2 seed in the upcoming 2009 Big 12 Conference Men’s Tennis Championship on April 24-27 in Norman, Okla. They also claimed a full-point toward the State Farm Lone Star Showdown standings between the two in-state rivals. Current Big 12 leader Baylor (20-5, 5-0) will face Oklahoma State on April 19 in Waco which could decide a potential share of the regular-season title.
“To beat Texas after they finished second in the country last year by getting to the (NCAA) finals was a big effort for our guys, especially after the doubles,” Denton said. “We were really able to fight and won all of our first sets in singles, which is amazing to do against a team that is as good as this team. Our guys really came out, put the doubles behind them and did a great job of fighting.”
A&M won four of six singles matches to dispatch the Longhorns (16-5, 3-2) including straight-set victories by sophomore All-American and No. 54-ranked Austin Krajicek (Brandon, Fla.) at No. 2 and freshman Colin Hoover (Victoria, Texas) at No. 6. Krajicek defeated No. 60-ranked Ed Corrie by a 6-2, 6-2 count and Hoover gave up just one game in a 6-0, 6-1 domination of Josh Zavala. Sophomore Alexey Grigorov (Moscow, Russia) beat Miguel Reyes Varela, 7-5, 6-3, at the No. 4 line in the Aggies’ swift comeback after dropping the doubles point to the Longhorns who returned most of the members of their 2008 NCAA runner-up squad which lost to Georgia in the national championship match a year ago.
The eighth-ranked A&M combination of Pollock and Krajicek picked up an 8-4 victory over No. 27-ranked Ed Corrie and Kellen Damico at No. 1 doubles. They closed out the regular season with an impressive 17-4 dual record which included wins in their last three-straight matches.
“I couldn’t have scripted a better ending, that’s for sure,” Pollock said. “This is my first victory over Texas. We were able to beat them the year before I came to Aggieland, so it feels pretty amazing to finally turn the corner. It’s just an awesome feeling. To be able to share this moment with my mom is very special to me. She has been such a big part of my life. I’ll remember this one forever.”