COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The 14th-ranked Texas A&M men’s tennis team clinched its first SEC Western Division championship with a 4-1 victory over sixth-ranked Ole Miss on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. The Aggies improve to 16-11 and 7-5 in SEC play while the Rebels fall to 15-7 and 7-5 in conference action.
“It’s nice to pull this win out today,” Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton said. “We had our backs against the wall this weekend and we competed really well on Friday night as well as today. I’m extremely pleased with the way our team performed this weekend.”
For the second time this weekend, Texas A&M was able to clinch the doubles point behind one of its top-30 doubles teams. The tandem of Jeremy Efferding and Jordan Szabo split the first four games with William Kallberg and Zach Wilder before winning six of the last seven to claim the 8-3 victory at the No. 3 line. Seconds later, the 26th-ranked pair of Harry Adams and Shane Vinsant rallied from an early deficit to topple the 71st-ranked duo of Stefan Lindmark and Johan Backstrom, 8-5, at the No. 2 doubles line.
“Winning the doubles was key on Friday night as well as today,” Denton said. “It was tightly contested in the doubles. I thought we played the big points better than they did, especially at No. 2 and No. 3.”
The Maroon and White carried their momentum from doubles into singles, winning four-of-six first sets. Sophomore Jackson Withrow kept the ball rolling for the Aggies, defeating Johan Backstrom, 6-1, 6-4, from the No. 5 line to push A&M’s lead to 2-0. The Rebels would cut into Texas A&M’s lead when 14th-ranked Jonas Lutjen downed junior Junior Ore, 6-2, 7-6 (3), at the No. 2 line to cut the score to 2-1. After several tense minutes, both Adams and Vinsant were able to force second set tiebreakers, simultaneously, after each had claimed the first set. Vinsant, ranked 78th in the most recent ITA Rankings rolled to a 6-4, 7-6 (1) victory at the No. 4 line to push A&M’s lead to 3-1. Seconds after Vinsant’s win, 119th-ranked Adams was able to give the Aggies their first SEC division title with his victory in both sets coming at a score of 7-6 (3).
“We were able to carry over the momentum from the doubles,” Denton said, “winning four-of-six first sets and even in the sets we lost, we were able to turn the matches around. We definitely made them fight an uphill battle all afternoon. They key to the match, in my mind, was when we were up 2-1 and were in two tiebreakers. Both of our freshman came through in both of those to secure the victory for us.”
Texas A&M will be in action later this week when it travels to Oxford, Mississippi, for the SEC tournament. Stay tuned to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieMTEN on Twitter to stay up to date with the Aggies in their quest for a conference title in their inaugural season in the SEC.
No. 14 Texas A&M def. No. 6 Ole Miss, 4-1
No. 1 – No. 40 Jeremy Efferding, A&M vs. No. 15 Nik Scholtz, MISS 7-5, 4-4 (unfinished)
No. 2 –No. 14 Jonas Lutjen, MISS def. Junior Ore, A&M 6-2, 7-6 (3)
*No. 3 – No. 119 Harry Adams, A&M def. Stefan Lindmark, MISS 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3)
No. 4 – No. 78 Shane Vinsant, A&M def. No. 95 William Kallberg, MISS 6-4, 7-6 (1)
No. 5 – Jackson Withrow, A&M def. Johan Backstrom, MISS 6-1, 6-4
No. 6 – Niall Angus, A&M vs. Adrian Forberg-Skogeng, MISS 2-6, 6-4, 1-3 (unfinished)
No. 1 – No. 9 Ore/Withrow, A&M vs. No. 4 Lutjen/Scholtz, MISS 5-6 (unfinished)
No. 2 – No. 26 Adams/Vinsant, A&M def. No. 71 Backstrom/Lindmark, MISS 8-5
No. 3 – Efferding/Szabo, A&M def. Kallberg/Wilder, MISS 8-3
Order of finish: Doubles 3, 2; Singles 5, 2, 4, 3
*clinched the match
Texas A&M (16-11, 7-5 SEC); Ole Miss (15-7, 7-5 SEC)