The 15th-ranked Texas A&M men’s tennis team eliminated Binghamton, 4-0, in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship held Friday before a crowd of 247 fans at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
The 15th-seeded Aggies improved to 16-8 overall and moved on to the second round of play for the 12th consecutive year since 1998. Binghamton, who earned an NCAA automatic bid as the America East Conference champion, closed out its season at 14-8 overall. The Aggies will face 24th-ranked Arizona (18-5) tomorrow at 4 p.m. (CT) for a coveted spot in next week’s round of 16 to be played at the very same venue beginning on May 14. The Wildcats advanced with a 4-0 shutout of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (14-9) in the first match of the day.
A&M picked up the doubles point with a pair of 8-2 victories at the No. 2 and No. 3 lines courtesy of junior Marcus Lunt (San Antonio, Texas) and sophomore Wil Spencer (Ponce de Leon, Fla.) and sophomore Alexey Grigorov (Moscow, Russia) and freshman Colin Hoover (Victoria, Texas).
The Aggies kept the momentum going into singles winning all six first sets. Their “Big Three” comprised of senior All-American and No. 17-ranked Conor Pollock (San Antonio, Texas), sophomore All-American and No. 47-ranked Austin Krajicek (Brandon, Fla.) and No. 48-ranked Wil Spencer closed out the match with straight-set victories at the top three positions in the lineups.
“We had a good start, good intensity and energy in the doubles, which we’ve really been working on,” Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton said. “We’re going to need that if we’re going to hang in this tournament for awhile. It was a solid first match for us. Obviously, everyone is a little bit nervous, because it’s the first match of the NCAA Tournament. Binghamton’s players fought hard and were a good first-round test for us. We had to really fight out there and it was good preparation for us for tomorrow’s second round.”
Pollock defeated Binghamton’s Moshe Levy, 6-2, 6-3, at No. 1 followed by Krajicek who downed America East Player of the Year Sven Vloedgraven, 6-2, 6-1, at No. 2. Spencer clinched the victory with a 6-1, 6-3 decision over Gilbert Wong at No. 3.
A&M holds a 2-0 advantage in the all-time series with Arizona. Both teams last met each other in the 1993 regular-season opener under legendary Aggie head coach David Kent. The Wildcats will be making only their second all-time NCAA second round appearance in program history against versus Aggies.
“We have a great opportunity tomorrow,” Denton said. “Arizona is playing well and our players are going to have to step it up and play. It’s going to be a really close match, like a lot of our matches have been this year. They are pretty good throughout their lineup. Their biggest strength is that they compete really hard, so we are going to have to match that intensity and pick it up a notch. It’s going to come down to who plays the big points best and who wants it more.”