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Aggies fall short in down to the wire match with Wildcats

Junior+Noah+Schachter+with+sophomore+Kenner+Taylor+during+their+doubles+match+against+the+University+of+Texas+at+the+Mitchell+Tennis+Center+on+Wednesday%2C+Mar.+9%2C+2022.
Photo by Robert O’Brien

Junior Noah Schachter with sophomore Kenner Taylor during their doubles match against the University of Texas at the Mitchell Tennis Center on Wednesday, Mar. 9, 2022.

It was a heated matchup this Saturday, March 4, between Texas A&M men’s tennis and the University of Kentucky. The Aggies would end up losing a nail-biter at the Mitchell Tennis Center by a total score of 4-3.
The Wildcats came into the day’s match as the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s No. 5 team in the country, with a record of 12 wins and two losses. The Aggies, coming off a doubleheader win, sat at just No. 49, with a record of four wins and four losses. This meant the maroon and white would have to fight hard if it wanted to pull off the upset against their Southeastern Conference opponent.
When looking at the history of this matchup, the Aggies hold the advantage with nine wins and only five losses to the team from Lexington, Kentucky. A&M once held a six-match win streak over the Wildcats, but the tables have since turned, as Kentucky is the highest-ranked team in the SEC.
In regards to the first three doubles matches, A&M would get off to a hot start. The doubles team of seniors Trey Hilderbrand and Noah Schachter defeated Kentucky’s senior Taha Baadi and fifth-year senior Alafia Ayeni by a score of 6-4.
However, Kentucky would bounce back with a win in the second doubles match. The Wildcat’s team of senior Liam Draxl and freshman Jaden Weekes took down the team of junior Raphael Perot and sophomore Giulio Perego by a score of 6-3. This tied the two teams up in their chance to grab the doubles point.
In the third and final doubles match, Kentucky would come out on top. The No. 43 nationally-ranked doubles team of redshirt junior JJ Mercer and junior Joshua Lapadat took down A&M’s team of juniors Pierce Rollins and Kenner Taylor 6-4. This made the score 1-0 in favor of the Wildcats going into singles play. The Aggies found themselves down, but not out.
To kick off singles play, the maroon and white earned a point as sophomore Luke Casper defeated No. 102 freshman Charlelie Cosnet. In a match that saw Cosnet upset by the unranked Casper, the sophomore from Santa Cruz, California was victorious in just two lopsided sets by scores of 6-1 and 6-1. This gave the Aggies some hope in regard to upsetting the highly-touted Wildcats. The overall score now sat at 1-1 apiece.
The second doubles match to end was in favor of the Wildcats. The No. 31 ranked Ayeni took down A&M’s highest-ranked player in No. 57 Perot. A&M’s top player fell in three close sets by scores of 7-6(3), 6-4. This gave Kentucky the upper hand once again and set the Aggies behind by a score of 2-1
During the next two matches, A&M would grab the upper hand and turn the tables in their favor by a score of 3-2. The Aggies found themselves on top after No. 105 Rollins defeated Weekes in three sets of 2-6, 6-4 and 6-3. The next match in A&M’s momentum shift was No. 63 Schachter taking down Kentucky’s highly ranked No. 27 Draxl 6-3, 7-6(10). This final deciding set would go into extra points as Schachter was fighting to put the Aggies ahead. He would be successful and the Aggies would be up 3-2 with just two matches to play.
The Wildcats would rebound from the two straight losses as No. 100 Baadi defeated Perego in three sets of 3-6, 6-3 and 6-4. This tied the overall score up at 3-3, meaning the winner of the day’s match would come down to the final singles match.
It came down to the wire, but A&M would lose the nailbiter and fail to upset Kentucky. The WIldcats’ highest-ranked player in No. 23 Lapadat edged out unranked senior Guido Marson in three highly contested sets by scores of 7-6, 7-4 and 7-5. After falling short to Kentucky, A&M coach Steve Denton said the Aggies fought hard but did not do enough to earn the win.
“I thought we competed our tails off against Kentucky, the matches were all close, which is positive to see,” Denton said. “We lost a couple of tiebreakers here and there, which probably was the difference, but they did a good job of being resilient.”
Denton appreciated seeing his team not give up in the face of adversity. He wanted to see effort, and that is exactly what he got from this underdog team of highly determined individuals.
After the day’s match, A&M now holds a record of four wins and five losses, while Kentucky touts a record of 13 wins and two losses.

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Matthew Seaver
Matthew Seaver, Sports Reporter
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