KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The 12th-ranked Texas A&M men’s tennis team dropped its second straight contest against a top-five opponent in fifth-ranked Tennessee, 4-3, at the Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center. The Aggies fall to 13-9 and 4-3 in the SEC while the Volunteers improve to 18-6 and 5-3 in conference play. This match marked the second 4-3 loss the Aggies suffered at the hands of the Volunteers.
“We had multiple chances today, we just couldn’t capitalize on them,” Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton said. “We had a match point in doubles but couldn’t convert. We lost two matches in the third set in singles where the big points didn’t go our way. Our teams are obviously very equal in ability. We just didn’t finish them when we had the chance. We don’t have time to hang our heads, however, we have to get ready to compete against another great team on Sunday.”
Texas A&M was unable to claim the doubles point for the second-straight match which would prove to be the deciding factor. The 25th-ranked tandem of Harry Adams and Shane Vinsant downed Brandon Fickey and Jarryd Chaplin, 8-3, at the No. 2 doubles line to secure the first doubles win for the Maroon and White. The pair of Jeremy Efferding and Jordan Szabo were unable to clinch the doubles point as they fell to John Collins and Edward Jones, 8-4, at the No. 3 doubles position to push the deciding factor to the No. 1 doubles line. The 11th-ranked duo of Jackson Withrow and Junior Ore came ever so close to giving the Aggies a 1-0 lead, but were unable to rally in the tiebreaker, falling to the seventh-ranked tandem of Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese, 9-8 (6), to give the Volunteers a 1-0 advantage.
Texas A&M rebounded nicely into singles, however, winning four-of-six first sets at the Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 5 lines. The Volunteers expanded the lead to 2-0 when 31st-ranked Reese quickly downed Ore at the No. 2 line, 6-1, 6-1. The Aggies would tie the match at two just minutes later when 118th-ranked Withrow defeated Jones, 6-3, 6-0, at the No. 5 line and Adams upset 115th-ranked Fickey, 6-3, 6-1, at the No. 3 line seconds after Withrow clinched his match. 93rd-ranked Vinsant pushed Texas A&M ahead 3-2 when he downed Chaplin in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, at the No. 4 line. Only needing a win on one of the two remaining courts to clinch the victory, Jordan Szabo forced a deciding third set after splitting the first two, 2-6 and 6-4, with Taylor Patrick at the No. 6 line. The Australian’s late rally was too little-too late as he fell in the final set, 6-4.
With the match tied at three, all eyes fell on the No. 1 court between 40th-ranked Efferding and third-ranked Libietis. Efferding was able to claim the first set by way of the tiebreaker, 7-6 (5), but had no answer for Libietis’ serve in the second set, falling 6-1. Both players held serve through the first eight games before Libietis was able to break Efferding’s serve to go ahead 5-4. Libietis was able to hold serve in the final game to clinch the match, 6-4.
The Aggies will face another top-five opponent on Sunday when they travel to Athens for a match against the third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs. To learn more about the Texas A&M men’s tennis team, visit AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieMTEN on Twitter.
No. 5 Tennessee def. No. 12 Texas A&M, 4-3
No. 1 – No. 3 Mikelis Libietis, UT def. No. 40 Jeremy Efferding, A&M 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4
No. 2 – No. 31 Hunter Reese, UT def. Junior Ore, A&M 6-1, 6-1
No. 3 – Harry Adams, A&M def. No. 115 Brandon Fickey, UT 6-3, 6-1
No. 4 – No. 93 Shane Vinsant, A&M def. Jarryd Chaplin, UT 6-4, 6-4
No. 5 – No. 118 Jackson Withrow, A&M def. Edward Jones, UT 6-3, 6-0
No. 6 – Taylor Patrick, UT def. Jordan Szabo, A&M 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
No. 1 – No. 7 Libietis/Reese, UT def. No. 11 Ore/Withrow, A&M 9-8 (6)
No. 2 – No. 25 Adams/Vinsant, A&M def. Fickey/Chaplin, UT 8-3
No. 3 – Collins/Jones, UT def. Efferding/Szabo, A&M 8-4
Order of finish: Doubles 2, 3, 1; Singles 2, 5, 3, 4, 6, 1*
*clinched the match
Texas A&M (13-9, 4-3 SEC); Tennessee (18-6, 5-3 SEC)