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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 looks to build off last season’s success

Mens+Tennis
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Men’s Tennis

The Texas A&M men’s tennis team kicks off a new season this weekend after returning to campus this semester sporting some flashy, new jewelry — their SEC Championship rings.

Last Saturday, the team was honored in front of the 12th Man on the biggest stage in Aggieland — Kyle Field. Head coach Steve Denton said the experience was very special for the guys.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to be recognized in front of the 12th man there on Saturday,” Denton said. “These guys come here and they battle and do their best, and they represent this university well. It was a great thrill for them and a lot of satisfaction for us as coaches to see them out there being recognized in such a way.”

Senior Shane Vinsant said it was great to share that moment with his teammates and be able to reflect on the great season.

Last year the Aggies amassed what was considered to be one of the best campaigns in program history. After being named as the regular season co-champions, the Aggies (24-5) claimed the SEC tournament title at the Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station. In postseason competition, A&M reached the national quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament for the second time in school history.

Vinsant said he feels he has stepped into more of a leadership position as he approaches his final season at Texas A&M. After playing in numerous competitive matches against some of the toughest competition during his time at A&M, he knows how hard it is to reach the level the Aggies encompassed last season. Having that success only makes him strive more toward going above and beyond the accomplishments of teams in the past.  

“Last year was one of the best seasons ever at A&M and this year we’re coming back and want to do even better,” Vinsant said.  “We have a confident mindset.”

The Aggies graduated three players from last year’s roster, and the fourth senior, Jackson Withrow is currently vying for extended eligibility to make up for the time that he lost due to injuries. A&M is not to worry about the vacancies left from the graduating seniors, for Steve Denton and his staff brought to Aggieland a touted class of five freshman who made up the No. 13 ranked recruiting class in the nation, according to tennisrecruiting.net.

Coach Denton seems to be very pleased with the five new guys and said although it will be a battle to get playing time, they are fully capable of competing at the collegiate level.

“I think they bring a lot of energy, a lot of different variation in practice,” Denton said. “We’ve got an experienced team so they’re going to have to fight for their spot, they’re gonna have to take it away from some of these veteran players, which is a good thing. The main thing is they want to work hard and they want to continue to try to improve their game.”

Aside from the elite skill level of the men’s tennis squad, one other attribute they can boast is true depth. With players of all classifications being capable of performing on any given day, the Aggies hold a huge advantage, especially down the stretch of a long season. Junior Frankie Colunga said it is always a battle to make the lineup, however, the main objective of the competition in practice is to better the team as a whole.

“Everyone wants to play but everyone also wants the team to get better,” Colunga said. “So it’s about doing what’s best for the team and working as hard as you can so the team can get better.”

A&M will enter the season as the defending conference champions and the favorite to capture the title again, but the road to the top will not be without its tests. Throughout the course of the season, the Aggies will face numerous perennial powerhouses such as Illinois, Ohio State, TCU and Georgia, who A&M knocked defeated in the SEC tournament title match a season ago.

The Aggies will kick off the season Friday at the Midland Fall Invitational. Coach Denton hopes to see maximum effort from his guys this weekend and wants to see if they can make the jump from being really good players to great ones.

“[The] main thing is for them to compete really hard and lay it all out there on the court,” Denton said. “We want to see them playing well at key moments to be what we call ‘clutch.’ What separates really good players from great players is great players have the ability to raise their game at the important moments.”
Following this weekend’s tournament, A&M will return home to host the Conference Challenge in College Station beginning Friday Sept. 25.

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