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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggie netters head to North Carolina to face No. 8 Duke in a matchup of top 10s

 
 

So far this season, the No. 9 Texas A&M men’s tennis team has traveled to Indiana and Illinois to take on top-ranked competition. This Saturday, the road won’t get any easier as they head to Durham, N.C., to face the No. 8 Duke Blue Devils.
“Our schedule is arguably going to be one of the toughest in the country before it’s all said and done,” said A&M coach Tim Cass. “With that in mind, I think this poses another great challenge for us. Duke is a very good team, and like us, over the last four years they’ve been one of the most consistent teams in the country.”
While the Aggies (4-1) have faced some early season tests, Duke (0-0) has yet to play together as a team this year. Their first match is this Thursday against William & Mary.
However, members of their team competed in the ACC Indoor Championships in Winston-Salem, N.C., last week where the team of Peter Rodrigues and Jonathan Stokke captured the doubles title.
Blue Devils coach Jay Lapidus said he likes what he has seen of his team so far on the practice courts as well as in the ACC Championships.
“I feel like we’re a little more experienced than last year with most of the guys,” Lapidus said. “We lost (Michael) Yani off the team from last year and that kind of hurt us, but most of the guys have all improved, and we have a good new freshman named Peter Rodrigues from Portugal who has played good, so I think we’ll be strong again.”
The return of three-time All-American Phillip King, who last year teamed with Yani to make up the nations No. 3 doubles team, and sophomore Ludovic Walter, who is ranked No. 7 nationally in singles, has given Lapidus good reason to be optimistic.
With such evenly-matched teams, there is a good chance that Saturday’s contest will come down to the doubles point, where there will be an intriguing early season match-up of a No.1 versus a No. 2.
A&M’s top-ranked doubles team of Lester Cook and Ante Matijevic will face its toughest competition yet as they square up against Duke’s No. 2 ranked team of Jason Zimmermann and Walter, winners of the ITA National Indoor Tennis Championships doubles title last fall.
“If you look at most every dual match, the doubles point is so important,” Cook said. “We played them earlier this year at All American, and we beat them indoors. But, obviously, it’s totally different now that it’s a dual match, and they’ve got a little experience under their belt also. I think it will definitely be a key factor in the match.”
Cass said he believes it is going to take a little something more from the Aggies since they are playing on the road again.
“On paper it looks like its going to be evenly matched, but I always feel like when you play on the road that the team is probably about 10 percent better at home,” Cass said. “So clearly, if we’re playing them on the road and indoors, we have to figure out how to make up 10 to 15 percent.”
The Aggies will take on the Blue Devils at 12 p.m. on Saturday at Duke’s Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center.

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