Aggies Host Twin Bill Against No. 5 Kentucky and Prairie View A&M
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The 14th-ranked Texas A&M men's tennis team continues its seven-match home-stand against fifth-ranked Kentucky and Prairie View A&M on Sunday at the George P. Mitchell Center in College Station. First serve against the Wildcats has been pushed back to start at 2 p.m. and the match against the Panthers will begin at 6 p.m.
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"I love these doubleheaders," Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton said. "They always test our player's stamina and mental toughness as well as getting some critical playing time for some of our players who we will need for down the homestretch in our season. We will need everyone to contribute tomorrow and the rest of the way if we are going to have a successful season."
Texas A&M (10-5, 2-1 SEC) enters into the contests after knocking off another top-20 SEC foe in Vanderbilt. The Aggies were able to cruise to a 5-2 victory in that match after easily clinching the doubles point and winning five-of-six first sets in singles. With the victory over Vanderbilt, Texas A&M improved to 8-5 against ranked opponents and 5-4 over opponents ranked in the top-30 of the ITA national poll. Overall, the Maroon and White stand at 51-28 in singles and 27-9 in doubles.
In singles, the Aggies are led by 90th-ranked freshman Shane Vinsant with a 10-4 mark including an 8-4 record from the No. 4 line. Fellow freshman Harry Adams and sophomore Jeremy Efferding are tied for second in singles wins with each boasting a 9-3 record. Sophomores Behzad Minavi (6-1) and Jordan Szabo (6-5) have played critical roles on the squad thus far through the spring season. 115th-ranked sophomore Jackson Withrow (5-4) and junior Junior Ore (5-8) round out the projected singles lineup for Texas A&M.
The Aggies have had a large amount of success in the doubles department through the first half of the season, only dropping the doubles point three times through 15 matches. The 15th-ranked duo of Ore and Withrow leads the squad with a 10-2 mark and a 10-1 record from the No. 1 doubles line. The freshman tandem of Adams and Vinsant, ranked 21st nationally, boast a 9-2 record, including an 8-2 record at the No. 2 line. Both pairs enter into the contest on a four-match winning streak. Szabo and Efferding round out the projected doubles lineup with a 7-5 record.
"Kentucky is a very talented and confident team," Denton said. "We will need to come out with a lot of energy and play very well. We're going to have to start very strong and finish well. Whichever team wins the SEC is going to be one that holds serve at home and steals a few on the road. This is a very important home-stand for us and Kentucky is the next step. There appears to be a lot of parity this year in the SEC and it's going to come down to who comes out and performs their best on that day."
Kentucky (14-3, 2-0 SEC) come into the match after dropping a 6-1 decision to Baylor on Friday night. Despite the loss on Friday, the Wildcats still boast an impressive lineup, going 64-22 in singles and 24-12 in doubles. In singles, Kentucky is led by 21st-ranked Anthony Rossi with a 14-2 record, including a 13-2 record from the top singles position. Following Rossi is 18th-ranked Tom Jomby with a 10-2 record, with all decisions coming from the No. 2 line. Grant Roberts (8-2), Kevin Lai (7-0), Charles Minc (7-3) and Alejandro Gomez (5-9) round out the projected singles lineup for Kentucky.
In doubles, the Wildcats boast the 19th-ranked tandem nationally in Jombi and Lai with an 8-4 mark in pairs play. Rossi and Roberts (7-2) as well as Ryuji Hirooka and Gomez (6-5) finish up the projected doubles squad for Kentucky.
"Prairie View A&M is always a factor in their conference and we have played them in the NCAA tournament," Denton, who is in his seventh season at the helm of the men's tennis program, said. "Coach Cochran always has his players ready to play and I anticipate they will compete and play well against us. "
Prairie View A&M (5-6) enters the contest riding a four-match winning streak. The Panthers downed Texas Lutheran, 7-0, on Friday evening. The last time these two squads met, Texas A&M defeated the Panthers, 4-0, in the first round of the NCAA championships.
The Aggie men's tennis team will be in action again on Wednesday, March 13, when it continues the home-stand against top-ranked Virginia. To learn more about the Texas A&M men's tennis team, visit AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieMTEN on Twitter.