Preparing for an SEC opponent this weekend, No. 8 Texas A&M men’s tennis can ride the momentum of back-to-back wins and big boosts in its ITA rankings.
Originally scheduled to play Alabama on Sunday, the Aggies’ matchup has been postponed due to positive COVID-19 cases within the Crimson Tide’s program. A&M’s home match with Auburn, scheduled for 6 p.m. on March 26, remains unaffected as the Aggies look to pick up steam after a big win.
A&M has risen in the rankings following a strong four-match stretch, through which the Aggies have gone 3-1 with wins over Baylor and TCU, who are both currently ranked top 5. The Intercollegiate Tennis Association released new standings for both teams, individuals and duos, which boded well for A&M.
The team, currently 12-4, has climbed from 10th to eighth in the nation, good for third highest in the SEC. With the conference tournament less than a month away, this could give the Aggies confidence down the stretch. They have five matches remaining, four in-conference and one against their rivals at the University of Texas.
Individuals saw improvements in their ranks as well. A&M now boasts six players in the nation’s top-125, tied for the most in the nation. Even more impressive, two of the top-five players are Aggies. Despite being out the last four matches, A&M’s senior Hady Habib climbed from No. 13 to No. 1 in the nation. Senior Valentin Vacherot moved from No. 4 to No. 5. Vacherot is the only member of the top five from the initial rankings in January to remain in the top five in March.
Other ranked Aggies include senior Barnaby Smith and junior Noah Schachter, A&M’s biggest risers. Smith moved up 44 spots from No. 110 to No. 66, though hehas not competed since Pepperdine in January. Schachter improved 45 spots, ascending from No. 116 to No. 71. Senior Juan Carlos Aguilar fell from No. 33 to No. 89, but the young sophomore Pierce Rollins climbed from unranked to No. 108. Fully healthy, the Aggies could sport a singles lineup of only ranked players.
Despite falling in the singles rankings, Aguilar can find solace in his doubles ranking. He and his partner, graduate transfer from Texas Tech Bjorn Thomson, rose from the No. 48 ranked duo to No. 11.