Texas A&M men’s tennis faced off against the University of Florida and Valparaiso University March 3 at the Mitchell Tennis Center, going 2-0 on the day.
The Aggies played back-to-back matches starting with the Florida Gators then competed against the Valpo Crusaders. A&M entered at rank No. 12 in the NCAA, Florida at No. 6, and Valpo unranked. In both matches Texas A&M reigned the victor with 4-3 and 6-1 wins over Florida and Valpo respectively.
In the first match, Florida defeated the Aggies in doubles with sophomore Pranav Kumar and junior Hady Habib defeated 6-4 while senior Valentin Vacherot and sophomore Noah Schachter fell 6-2.
“It’s the first doubles point we lost in a while so I’m not going to overreact too much, but I feel like the guys could learn from that match,” A&M coach Steve Denton said. “I don’t think we had an aggressive enough mentality in the doubles but yet we had it in the singles today and that was the difference in the match.”
Despite their downfall in doubles, the Aggies picked up momentum in singles. Vacherot (7-6, 6-1), Habib (6-1, 6-7), and sophomore Guido Marson (6-1, 4-6, 6-4) were the first victors for the Aggies. Junior Carlos Aguilar fell to Florida’s Duarte Vale (2-6, 1-6) alongside Junior Barnaby Smith, who lost to Florida’s Lukas Greif (3-6, 3-6). The match was close (3-3) with the fate of the game determined by Schacter, who battled it out against Florida’s Andy Andrade. Schacter secured the win for the Aggies and beat Andrade 7-6, 9-7.
“It feels great because last year they beat us,” Schacter said. “It actually came down to my match and I lost it. It feels good to beat them this year, but my teammates won it faster than me I just happened to be the last one on the court so I’m just happy for the team.”
Later that afternoon the Aggies went on to defeat Valpo in both single and doubles. Freshmen Pierce Rollins and Stefan Storch won 6-1 followed by Kumar and Smith who won 6-1. In singles Aguilar won by opponent retirement 6-1, 3-0, Storch won 6-1, 6-0, followed by Rollins 6-1, 6-3, then Kumar with a score of 6-2, 6-2, and the final victory for the Aggies was by sophomore Austin Abbrat 6-4, 6-2. The only loss the Aggies suffered was by retirement by Smith, who had a lead of 7-5, 3-2 against Valpo’s Brian Pecyna.
“There was a pain in my right hip,” Smith said. “It bothered me beforehand, but I continued playing. I was able to win the first set, I was able to gain the lead in the second set, but the team had already won, it didn’t make sense for me to continue going and add to the injury. It’s not smart in that kind of match when there’s big matches ahead.”
With back-to-back wins the Aggies’ keep a winning streak of seven with an overall of 12-3 alongside an undefeated home game record of 8-0.
“It is unbelievable,” Aguilar said. “We had a shaky start at the national indoors this year, getting a big upset by Michigan, but we knew we were stronger outdoors. Once the outdoors season started, we started playing really good tennis. The higher and older guys in line like myself, Valentine, and Hady had to raise our level to get this thing going. The freshman have been doing unbelievable. Shoutout to Noah for Clutching the match today he kept himself so cool and mentally tough which was huge for us and got us the win.”
The Aggies will prepare to face off against Mississippi State in Mississippi on March 13.
“We just got to build on this win,” Denton said. “We got some momentum right now so we got to keep working hard. There’s a long part of the season left still and we got to work really hard if we are going to continue to improve. I think that’s the take away at this point that this was a great step today but we got to be able to put this behind us and compete again as we go on the road.”