The 11th-ranked and second-seeded Texas A&M men’s tennis team fell to third-seeded Texas, 4-2, in the semifinals of the 2009 Big 12 Conference Tennis Championships held Saturday afternoon at the Headington Family Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Oklahoma.
Earning their highest tournament seed since the 2005 season and looking to advance to the championship title match for the first time since 2004, the Aggies (15-8) got behind early dropping a hard-fought doubles point to the Longhorns (19-5). Texas held just a one-or two-game advantage over the Aggies throughout the doubles lineup.
The No. 43-ranked UT doubles combination of Dimitar Kutrovsky and Josh Zavala held off sophomore Alexey Grigorov (Moscow, Russia) and freshman Colin Hoover (Victoria, Texas), 8-6, at the No. 2 position, while Olivier Sajous and Miguel Reyes Varela defeated junior Marcus Lunt (San Antonio, Texas) and sophomore Wil Spencer (Ponce de Leon, Fla.), 8-6, at No. 3. Both Aggie doubles teams tied it up at 6-all, but couldn’t get a break to regain the advantage.
In singles play, sophomore All-American Austin Krajicek (Brandon, Fla.) and Alexey Grigorov were the only two A&M players to win their first sets and went on to straight-set victories over the Longhorns at the No. 2 and No. 4 lines. Krajicek, ranked No. 44 nationally in the Campbell/ITA rankings, extended his win streak to five-straight matches with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over No. 64-ranked Ed Corrie. Both shared Big 12 Newcomer and Freshman of the Year honors a year ago. Grigorov, meanwhile, won his second-set tiebreaker to beat Olivier Sajous, 6-2, 7-6 (4).
“It was just another close match with Texas,” said third-year Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton whose Aggies went 2-1 versus their archrivals this season including a 4-3 win on April 16 in the regular-season finale in College Station. “They are a very good team. We knew the doubles point would be crucial today. We had our shot to win the doubles, but they stepped up and we didn’t. We were in a couple of the matches in singles. We were up 4-0 in Colin Hoover’s match (at No. 6) and couldn’t quite close the door in the second set. That’s the way these close matches go – a few points here and there. They handled it better than we did today and won the game points.”
A&M awaits its postseason fate as the field of 64 for the upcoming 2009 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship will be televised at approximately 4:20 p.m. (CT) on Tuesday, April 28 on ESPNEWS. ESPNEWS is located on DirecTV Channel 207 and Dish Network Channel 142. In addition, the ESPNEWS audio signal is available on the ESPNEWS channel on XM Radio and SIRIUS Radio. The Aggies have made an unprecedented 15-straight NCAA Tournament appearances since 1994 and 16 overall in program history.
“We will now get ourselves physically ready to play with 10 days to prepare back home,” said Denton on gearing up for NCAA postseason competition with the potential of hosting a regional at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center, site of the 2009 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships on May 14-25. “We are playing well at the right time (having won 10 of our last 13 matches of the season). We just didn’t do it today against Texas.”