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The Battalion

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 wins SEC championship on home court

Cody Franklin

The Aggie Men’s Tennis team poses with the SEC Championship trophy.

The Texas A&M men’s tennis team completed its campaign for a second straight SEC tournament championship Sunday when it defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 4-2 at the Mitchell Tennis Center.

Head Coach Steve Denton, whose team split the SEC regular season title with Georgia last week, said he couldn’t be happier for his team  following a championship match prolonged by inclement weather.

“This one feels as good as the first,” Denton said. “Our guys competed their tails off today against a great Georgia team.”

The ever-important doubles point was not easy to come by Sunday when the two teams faced off in front of the Aggie home crowd. At line one, the Georgia Bulldogs presented the No. 1 doubles team in the nation, consisting of Ben Wagland and Austin Smith, against A&M’s Harrison Adams and Shane Vinsant, the No. 11 pair in the country.

Although most of the focus was on court one, it was the freshman pair of AJ Catanzariti and Arthur Rinderknech to first retire their opponents, 6-3. Almost simultaneously, A&M (21-4) secured the point on court two, 6-3 while the top ranked Georgia group recorded a win on court one 6-3. It was seniors Jeremy Efferding and Jordan Szabo who clinched the point for the Aggies.

“You see it time and time again, the difference maker in a match comes down to that doubles point,” Efferding said.

Upon advancing to singles play, it was not long before the Bulldogs gained ground and tied the score at 1-1 with a 6-2, 6-3 win on court four, Harrison Adams falling for A&M.

With the intensity rising, the two star freshmen for the Aggies, Catanzariti and Rinderknech, defeated their opponents in straight sets to give A&M a 3-1 lead.

“They’re poised, they don’t play like freshmen anymore, we’ve played enough tennis this year that I try not to call them freshmen,” Denton said. “They believe in themselves, they are aggressive players, serve well and they think they’re going to win and that’s the mindset you have to have if you’re going to compete at this level.”

Just when A&M felt they could start to get comfortable, freshman Jordi Arconada fell, 5-7, 5-7 to his opponent on court six, making the score 3-2 in favor of the Aggies. After Jordi was eliminated, only courts one and two remained in play. A&M would just have to win one of two while Georgia would need wins on both courts to secure the title.

Shane Vinsant, playing at line two, won his first set, 6-4 and went on to drop his second, 6-7 which led to a decisive third set. Jeremy Efferding at line one also was forced into a third set as his first two finished, 6-7, 6-1 respectively.

When things started to heat up in the third sets, both Vinsant and Efferding seemed to have the momentum slipping from their grasp. Right as Vinsant and Efferding were down 3-5 and 4-5 respectively in the third set, the match was postponed due to inclement weather.

Upon returning from the break, neither player lost a single game on their way to closing out the match and capturing the team’s second straight SEC Championship.

Efferding clinched the match for A&M on court one, 6-7, 6-1, 7-5. Vinsant’s match remained unfinished, however, he held the advantage 6-5 when the match was called. Efferding, in addition to clinching the championship for the Aggies, was named MVP of the SEC tournament.

“It feels great, you know, just a lot of hard work paying off and it’s a real honor to be the MVP but I can’t take that away from the whole team,” Efferding said. “Anyone could have been out there in that position and I know Arthur, AJ, Jordi, Harry and Shane have been rising up to the occasion and playing great tennis and everyone has had their opportunity to shine here and everyone has been doing great. I feel like everyone is an MVP on our team.”
Moving forward, A&M will prepare for the NCAA tournament in which it is projected to be a top-four seed. The tournament will begin May 9. The NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship bracket is set to be announced at 5:30 p.m. April 28.

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