Chen lifts Texas to dramatic 4-3 victory over Texas A&M
AUSTIN, Texas – Trailing 5-2 in the third set with the team score knotted at three points apiece, Texas junior Ben Chen rallied to win his match and preserve a dramatic 4-3 win for the 17th-ranked Longhorns (16-7, 2-2 Big 12) over No. 27 Texas A&M (12-12, 1-3 Big 12) Saturday evening in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown.
The win gives Texas one point in the 2011-12 State Farm Lone Star Showdown standings. Texas holds a 9.0-3.0 lead over the Aggies in the all-sports competition between the two schools. Texas can clinch the 2011-12 State Farm Lone Star Showdown by picking up one point in either baseball, softball, men’s and women’s golf or men’s and women’s track and field.
Texas A&M had rallied to even the match at three-all and was on pace to complete its comeback with a win at sixth singles, as the Aggies’ Niall Angus opened up a 5-2 lead on Chen. However, the Texas junior broke Angus to pull within 5-3 and held serve to cut the deficit to 5-4. Serving 30-40, Angus slapped a backhand into the net to allow Chen to pull even at five games apiece.
Chen yielded the first point in his next service game but took the next four points to assume a 6-5 lead. At 15-all on Angus’ serve, a crisp forehand from Chen forced an errant return from Angus. Chen forced Angus to net another forehand and set up two match points, but Angus saved them both. Angus, however, double-faulted on the next point, and Chen converted the ensuing match point moments later, as Angus smacked another forehand into the net to give the Horns the once-improbable 4-3 win.
“I knew that since the crowd was coming to my court that it might come down to my match,” Chen said. “I was just trying to play every point as tough as I could. I got off to a slow start at the beginning of the third set, but with the support of my teammates and coaches, I was able to get it done. Tonight was just a team effort all the way through.”
Texas opened the match by claiming a tightly-contested doubles session to take the doubles point and assume a 1-0 lead. Texas’ Chen and Daniel Whitehead broke for a 5-2 lead at second doubles over the Aggies’ Niall Angus and John Lewis. The Texas tandem held serve the rest of the way en route to an 8-4 victory.
Texas’ 26th-ranked duo of Chris Camillone and David Holiner trailed A&M’s 41st-ranked duo of Junior Ore and Jackson Withrow by a 6-3 count at first doubles before evening the match at six. Texas later broke for an 8-7 lead and held serve in the final game to preserve a 9-7 win and nail down the doubles point for the Longhorns. Texas A&M’s Colin Hoover and Alexis Klegou edged UT’s Soren Hess-Olesen and Jacoby Lewis in a tiebreaker at third doubles, 9-8 (5).
Texas’ Hess-Olesen took the first set off of A&M’s Ore in a tiebreaker at first singles, 7-6 (4) before cruising to a 6-3 second-set win to give the Horns their second point of the match. UT’s Holiner staked Texas to a 3-0 lead at fourth singles after posting a 6-2, 6-4 win over the Aggies’ Jeremy Efferding.
A&M cut the lead to 3-1 with a 7-6 (4), 6-2 win from Klegou over UT’s Whitehead. Texas A&M pulled within 3-2 when John Lewis rallied for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 win over UT’s Lloyd Glasspool at fifth singles. The Aggies tied the match at three when Hoover finished off a 2-6, 7-6 (6), 6-2 win over Texas’ Sitaram at third singles and set the stage for Chen’s heroics.
Texas closes out the regular season on Saturday, April 21 when it visits Texas Tech.
Texas junior Ben Chen
On the final set: I knew based on the crowd coming to my court that it might come down to my match. I was just trying to play every point as tough as I could. I got off to a slow start at the beginning of the third set but with the support of my teammates and coaches I was able to get it done. Tonight was just a team effort all the way through.
On the rally from 5-2 down in the third set: Down 5-2, I never counted myself out. (Assistant coach) Ricardo Rubio was on my court, and he never counted me out. He had a lot of belief in me. That is where it started, just the belief. Once I started to get a little rhythm, I began to play better and better and I was able to pull it out. I drew so much energy from the crowd. They gave me their energy and I think I had a little more pep in my step at the end than my opponent did.
On the upcoming match at Texas Tech: We have gotten knocked down a couple times these past few weeks by Baylor and OU, but this is just another stepping stone for next weekend’s match against Texas Tech. Hopefully we do well there and we will be playing great tennis coming into the Big 12 tournament.
Texas head coach Michael Center
On the win: I told the guys that we have been doing this for a long time, and I don’t know if we have been in a match where it looked like it was a matter of just seconds we were going to finish the match off. David Holiner won and Soren Hess-Olesen won, and we were at match point with Sudanwa Sitaram, and then all the momentum turned to their favor. Colin Hoover started to play really well. Lloyd Glasspool started having a little trouble with his back, and Ben Chen was down 5-2 in the third. We were down and out. We have talked all year long about really being positive, fighting and having good image out there. I thought Ben Chen did an unbelievable job. He really looked good, and once he got his foot in the door and returned the momentum, and that was it. I couldn’t be prouder of the guys. I felt like we played well enough to win. I thought we played a good match, and for Ben to win it that way was obviously pretty exciting.
On how the team rallied around Ben Chen at the end: We have a great group of guys. We are very young. A lot of these guys have not been in that situation, and I felt fortunate that Ben is one of the guys that has been in that situation. He has come through for us like that in the past. I could just see it in his eyes and the way he was bouncing around and pumping his fists that he thought he could do it. Once he got back on his serve and then he held (serve), I thought it was pretty amazing the way he finished it off. I can’t give enough credit and I couldn’t be happier for Ben.
On taking this momentum to future matches: We have been hurt and had not been able to put our full team out there yet. I felt like we have been getting better in practice and we are playing better. We have a chance to possibly be ranked as the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament, which would give us a bye. We still have a lot to play for. Hopefully, we will take this and run with it.
No. 17 Texas 4, No. 27 Texas A&M 3
Doubles – Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3
1 #26 Chris Camillone/David Holiner (UT) def. #41 Junior Ore/Jackson Withrow (A&M) – 9-7
2 #69 Ben Chen/Daniel Whitehead (UT) def. Niall Angus/John Lewis (A&M) – 8-4
3 Colin Hoover/Alexis Klegou (A&M) def. Soren Hess-Olesen/Jacoby Lewis (UT) – 9-8 (5)
Singles – Order of Finish: 1, 4, 2, 5, 3, 6
1 #77 Soren Hess-Olesen (UT) def. Junior Ore (A&M) – 7-6 (4), 6-3
2 #31 Alexis Klegou (A&M) def. #99 Daniel Whitehead (UT) – 7-6 (4), 6-2
3 Colin Hoover (A&M) def. Sudanwa Sitaram (UT) – 2-6, 7-6 (6), 6-2
4 David Holiner (UT) def. Jeremy Efferding (A&M) – 6-2, 6-4
5 John Lewis (A&M) def. Lloyd Glasspool (UT) – 4-6, 6-1, 6-2
6 Ben Chen (UT) def. Niall Angus (UT) – 6-2, 3-6, 7-5
## UT ##