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

The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Men’s tennis team to make West-coast swing

The No. 12 Texas A&M men’s tennis team has gone off in search of a more tennis-friendly climate after the recent cold snap in College Station. The club, which has reached its highest national ranking of the year after defeating then No. 5 Ole Miss last weekend, is heading to California this weekend to brush up on its doubles play at the La Jolla Doubles Invitational, before moving down the coast for a dual match against No. 28 Pepperdine in Malibu, Calif.
“This is a great event for us,” said A&M Head Coach Tim Cass. “It will allow us to focus on doubles for the next four days. I think playing Pepperdine has been great. We have had some great matches. They are a good non-conference rival and are a perennial top 10 tennis team.”
The Aggies, who have struggled this season in doubles play, have started to show signs of life. The duo of sophomores Lester Cook and Ante Matijevic have continued their strong play from earlier in the season and have worked their way to a career-high national rank of No. 3 in the latest polls after defeating a top-5 duo from Stanford in the Aggies’ loss last weekend. Lately they have also been joined by the upstart duo of senior Ryan Newport and junior Khaled El Dorry. The pair has won three straight matches since being paired together in the number three slot.
“Number three has come on since we have been searching for combinations. They are a good number three team, but our number two has struggled a bit. We might have to switch them,” Cass said.
This weekend the Aggies, along with some of the best teams in the nation, including No. 3 UCLA, No.18 USC, Stanford and Pepperdine, will compete together without any team scoring taking place at the La Jolla Doubles Invite. The event will provide the teams a rare chance to focus on doubles in the middle of the season.
“I think it’s a great tournament,” said Pepperdine Head Coach Adam Steinberg. “It’s a beautiful place and it’s Spring Break for us. It’s a good opportunity to do something fun and get some good work on doubles playing.”
Pepperdine, the Aggies’ opponent Monday, is coming off of a tough stretch in its schedule. The Waves have dropped out of the nation’s top 25 after losing their last two matches, a position that the program is unfamiliar with.
“As a young team we’ve been going through some ups and downs,” Steinberg said. “But we’ve been getting better with every match.”
Pepperdine’s roster contains only two players with previous college experience, and does not include seniors. The inexperience has caused the team to face off with struggles that are not uncommon to such a young squad. Much like the maturing Aggie team, they have struggled to get the doubles point in matches, and have had trouble at the number three spot.
Monday’s match between the Aggies and the Waves affords both teams a chance to solve their doubles woes and implement lessons learned in La Jolla. Cass and the Aggies are looking forward to the chance at revenge after losing to the Waves at home last season 4-3. Pepperdine leads the all-time series with five wins to the Aggies’ two, and despite having the home court advantage, Pepperdine still isn’t overly confident.
“We’re comfortable at home,” Steinberg said. “But we have to approach every match like the NCAAs, and A&M is always a challenge. ”
The La Jolla Doubles Invitational begins Friday and runs through Sunday. The Aggies are set to take on Pepperdine Monday at 1 p.m.

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