Feb. 7, 2013
Texas A&M's 15th ranked men's tennis team fought off an early challenge by Rice in doubles before taking five of six singles matches to down the shorthanded host Owls 6-1 at Jake Hess Tennis Stadium on Thursday afternoon.
Rice (2-4) was forced to take on their longtime rivals without senior Peter Frank who was sitting out after being struck by a ball during rally during the Owls' loss on Sunday at Miami.
With Frank on the sidelines, Owls coach Efe Ustundag shuffled his doubles lineup, sending his freshman duo of Tommy Bennett and Adam Gustafsson on to the Jack Turpin Stadium Court to face off against A7M's Junior Ore and Jackson Withrow.
After the Aggies took an 8-3 win at No. 2 doubles and with Rice holding a lead on court 3, the first point of the match was to be decided on the main court and the Owls young tandem held serve through most of the match before a late break gave A&M an 8-6 win and the match's first point.
"I was really pleased with the way we came out and played in doubles," Ustundag said. "Adam and Tommy met the challenge of playing on the stadium court for the first time and looked like that was where they belong. They really rose up to the occasion, but their one bad game cost them."
Texas A&M wasted little time in clinching the match in singles, extending its lead to 4-0 with straight set wins on Courts 3, 5 and2, but Bennett and senior Jonathan Chang battled to first-set tiebreaks before losing. Bennett rallied in his second set to win 6-0 and then put the Owls on the scoreboard with a 10-7 win in the Super Tiebreaker.
"Tommy did what he does best, he kept points alive and never gave in even after dropping the tiebreak in the first set," Ustundag noted. "Jonathan played a great first set and it was great to see him bounce back from a bad match at Miami. By the time he went to his second set, the match had been clinched and that might have taken a little out of him in the second set. It's important for him now to take today's effort on the road at LSU. We have to get him playing well on the road."
Rice will be back on the road this weekend, traveling to Baton Rouge to face off against 25th ranked LSU at 1 p.m. on Sunday. They will be back on their home courts at Jake Hess a week from Sunday when they host TCU at 1:30.