COLLEGE STATION —Led by the senior All-American duo of Austin Krajicek and Jeff Dadamo, the No. 9-seed Texas A&M men’s tennis team advances to the NCAA Championships Round of 16 at Stanford by defeating No. 34-ranked LSU, 4-0, before a crowd of 527 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station, Texas.
The win improves A&M’s record-setting year to 29-5 in dual matches and in the last home match of the 2011 campaign, the Aggies will start the 2012 season with a 36-match home winning streak in place dating back to January 30, 2010.
“There was a lot of pressure on us because we are seeded and playing at home and the guys remained focused and took care of business,” Aggie head coach Steve Denton said. “This was the first step to get back to the round of 16. The doubles matches were hotly contested and we had talked about how we had dropped the No. 1 doubles match earlier this year to LSU. The doubles point was a huge difference today, as it is most times.”
The win also marked the 99th for Aggie head coach Steve Denton at Texas A&M. His record at A&M is 99-45 in his fifth season at the helm of the men’s tennis program. Overall, Denton is 163-93 including his five years at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Krajicek (CRY-check) and Dadamo (duh-DOM-oh), the fourth-ranked doubles tandem in the country and the Aggies’ No. 1 doubles team, clinched the all-important doubles point with an 8-5 decision over the No. 8-ranked doubles team of Neal Skupski and Sebastian Carlsson from LSU. The Aggie duo would break to go up 4-3 and then broke again to finish off the match. The victory gives the Aggie duo a 26-4 mark this spring, establishing a new A&M record for victories in doubles dual matches.
LSU had posted the first victory in the Saturday match at No. 2 doubles as Roger Anderson and Stefan Szacinski defeated A&M’s Junior Ore (OAR-ay) and Alexey Grigorov (GRIG-er-off), 8-6.
Usually, A&M sophomore Alberto Bautista and junior Colin Hoover play together at No. 3 doubles and the tandem is ranked No. 86 in the country. Bautista’s back tightened up on him and he could not play. Junior Alexis Klegou (CLAY-goo) stepped in and responded well as the A&M doubles team posted an 8-6 win to square the doubles portion prior to Krajicek and Dadamo’s match ending.
“With Alberto Bautista out, our depth showed with Alexis Klegou (Dunkerque, France) stepping in and playing with Colin Hoover (Victoria, Texas) at No. 3 doubles,” Denton explained. “They played well and Alexis really answered the bell.”
With the doubles point on the board in A&M’s favor, it was important to continue the momentum in the first sets of singles.
“In singles we got off to a great start winning five of the first six sets,” Denton said. “Austin had a dominating performance and we challenged the seniors that this would be the last time they stepped on these courts. Austin came out fast and it really snowballed.”
Krajicek, the Big 12 Player of the Year and the ITA region Texas Senior of the Year, was first off in singles with a dominating, 6-1, 6-1 win to improve to 19-5 on the year at No. 1 singles. At the end of his match, the crowd gave the senior from Brandon, Florida, a standing ovation as A&M moved the score to 2-0.
“I thought the ovation for him after his match was outstanding from the fans,” Denton said. “Austin has been the face of our program over the past three-and-a-half years and all of these seniors are special. It was very fitting and a storybook ending that showed a lot of character on Austin’s part. He did a great job of focusing on his match.”
“I thought it was important to get off to a good start in both doubles and singles,” Krajicek said. “I played a much better match today than I did before against a good player like Skupski from LSU. The ovation at the end of the match really made me feel great, it has been an honor to play here at Texas A&M.”
Senior Jeff Dadamo (Tampa, Florida) got off to a great start posting a 6-1 advantage in the first set against LSU’s Olivier Borsos. An injury timeout seemed to change the complexion of the match as Borsos came back to win the second set, 6-2.
“Jeff had a great first set but after the injury timeout he seemed to lose a little focus,” Denton stated.
Another Aggie senior in the lineup was Alexey Grigorov (Moscow, Russia) at No. 3 singles. His match was just the opposite of Dadamo’s. LSU’s Stefan Szacinski posted a 6-3 win in the first set before Grigorov bounced back with a 6-2 decision in the second set and was poised to take the match up 5-2 when Klegou had clinched the match at No. 4 singles.
“Grigi (Grigorov) had a poor first set but bounced back and was in good shape at No. 3,” Denton said.
The Aggies would extend the lead to 3-0 as another example of A&M’s depth was shown as freshman Junior Ore (Gaithersburg, Maryland) posted a 6-2, 6-4 win over LSU’s senior Julien Gauthier at the No. 6 singles in place of the injured Alberto Bautista (McAllen, Texas).
“Junior continues to get better and better,” Denton said. “He played the key points well and that win really gives our team confidence with our depth.”
The clinching point was secured by junior Alexis Klegou with a 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) win at the No. 4 singles. Klegou improves to 21-2 on the season in dual matches and has not won 15 matches in a row this spring.
“Goo (Klegou) played well and the LSU player is a tough out,” Denton said. “Goo won some key points and came through in the clutch today. He is playing his best here at the end of the season and that is important because in the NCAA Championships all lines have to play well.”
Junior Colin Hoover’s match at the No. 5 singles did not finish with Hoover winning the first set 6-2 and the second set was 4-3 in favor of LSU’s Mark Bowtell.
The Tigers drop to 12-14 on the season. A&M had defeated LSU, 6-1, earlier this spring in College Station.
“In doubles we had some chances, but they played well at No. 1 today and No. 3 was kind of close but they got that point,” Tigers’ head coach Jeff Brown said. “Sometimes you get that momentum of playing at home, and they capitalized on that and earned that right.”
“They jumped on us early in singles,” Brown said. “I felt good about the way our guys hung in there. We certainly had some chances, but we needed all of things to go well at that point. They had some guys play at a really high level today. Austin (Krajicek) played very well at No. 1 and Junior (Ore) stepping in there at No. 6 was impressive. He hasn’t been playing that much. They have a good team, but we are proud of our season and we are looking to build on it.”
Texas A&M has yet to drop a point in five post-season matches winning all five matches by identical 4-0 scores. The Aggies will advance to Palo Alto, California, where they will take on the No. 8 seed and host Stanford Cardinal. Stanford advanced on Saturday by defeating Washington, 4-1, at Stanford.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
College Station, TX
NCAA Second Round
#9 Texas A&M (29-5), LSU (12-14)
1. #17 Austin Krajicek, A&M def. #87 Neal Skupski, LSU– 6-1, 6-1
2. #31 Jeff Dadamo, A&M vs. Olivier Borsos, LSU– dnf
3. Alexey Grigorov, A&M vs. Stefan Szacinski, LSU– dnf
4. #94 Alexis Klegou, A&M def. Sebastian Carlsson, LSU– 6-2, 7-6 (7-2)
5. Colin Hoover, A&M vs. Mark Bowtell, LSU– dnf
6. Junior Ore, A&M def. Julien Gauthier, LSU– 6-2, 6-4
1. #4 Krajicek/Dadamo, A&M def. #8 Skupski/Carlsson, LSU– 8-5
2. Roger Anderson/Szacinski, LSU def. #66 Ore/Grigorov, A&M– 8-6
3. Klegou/Hoover, A&M def. Gauthier/Borsos, LSU– 8-6
TEXAS A&M MATCH NOTES: Attendance 527
*36 STRAIGHT HOME MATCH WINNING STREAK FOR THE AGGIES
*29 WINS EXTENDS RECORD FOR SEASON DUAL VICTORIES
*THIRD STRAIGHT ROUND OF 16 APPEARANCE