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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Texas A&M men’s tennis slips by Georgia

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Photo by Robert O’Brien

Freshman Gulio Perego looks up in the air getting ready to hit the ball at the Mitchell Tennis Center Wednesday, March 15. 

Sweat dripped down his face. The sun beamed, almost as bright as the glaring neon ball in his hand. All eyes were on him: the crowd, his teammates, his opponent. Everything came down to that moment. With a heavy hand, he brought his racket back and swung with the will of his team behind him. Game on.

No. 25 Texas A&M took on No. 8 Georgia and the University of Texas at San Antonio in a showdown on Sunday, March 27. In a shift from their performance earlier in the weekend, the Aggies’ dominant singles matches led them to a hard-fought 4-3 victory over the Bulldogs and 7-0 sweep of the Roadrunners. 

Coach Steve Denton said he was proud of the team for pushing forward despite obstacles.

“After having chances to win on Friday night and not finishing that match, I am most proud of our team’s ability to put that behind them,” Denton said. “They came out here today ready to face play and face adversity almost immediately after dropping that doubles point. We served for the point after putting ourselves in position to win and were not able to put that point on the board. For them to come out against an experienced team like Georgia and fight like that is a tremendous confidence builder for our young team. We could not be prouder of the way they battled.”

To begin the first match of the day, A&M lost the doubles point to the Bulldogs. Junior Noah Schachter and sophomore Kenner Taylor managed to top UGA’s No. 65 graduate duo Tristan McCormick and Hamish Stewart, but both A&M pairs freshman Giulio Perego and sophomore Pierce Rollins, and junior Austin Abbrat and freshman Stefan Storch fell to No. 26 and No. 53, respectively. 

With the match rolling into the singles event, A&M was trailing 0-1. Rollins came out swinging, scoring an early point to bring it to one-all. However, the Bulldogs returned the favor to give them back their lead when No. 56 Schachter was defeated by No. 17 Stewart. The lead continued to move back-and-forth with a win from freshman Luke Casper and another loss for sophomore Raphael Perot; with two matches left on the court, the maroon and white sat trailing, 3-2.

Denton said the team was able to do what was necessary and close out the game.

“We have been winning a lot of matches at five and six, so winning courts 3 through 6 is an extension of that,” Denton said. “The other day we played from ahead the whole match and were not able to slam the door, but today we were playing from behind all day and just kept fighting. I felt like we had a good chance to win after we kept hanging around. We have not lost a doubles point against a great team and then won four singles points so far this season, so this is a tremendous confidence building for these guys.”

In order to win the match, A&M needed to win both games played by junior Guido Marson and Perego. Marson took the first set 6-4 before dropping the next set to No. 32 McCormick. Sitting 1-1, Marson turned up the heat on his singles playing and knocked out a 6-0 set to win, bringing the score 3-3. All attention moved to Perego; with the first set falling to the Bulldogs, Perego fought to take the second 7-5. In the final set, Perego took advantage of breaks early in the set and won 6-1, securing the A&M victory.

Perego said he focused on getting one point at a time and slowing down the pace.

“I needed to stick to my game plan, take my opportunities and go get it,” Perego said. “Like I have been telling the guys, we were going to get the job done. I always tell the guys that at this level, no one gives you anything, so you either go get it or they take it.”

In the night game against UTSA, the Aggies sped through the doubles line-up, pulling up 1-0 heading into another aggressive singles section. A&M took five of the six first sets, but the Roadrunners fought back to steal a 6-3, 6-2 win over Schachter to bring it to one-all. The maroon and white ran away with the lead with wins by Storch, junior Matthis Ross and freshman Mathis Bondaz. A&M secured the victory with the final two points from Rollins and Taylor.
Denton said matches like the ones against UTSA are good morale and confidence boosters for the team.

“We had a good doubles point again,” Denton said. “Kenner [Taylor] continues to shine in the doubles. I was pleased to get some of these guys matches against a good in-state opponent. Pierce [Rollins] got two wins today, which is great for his confidence. It was great to see Matthis [Ross] and Mathis [Bondaz] get wins in a couple significant matches against tough opponents.”
The Aggies moved on to hit the road for more SEC play against Alabama and Auburn April 1 and 3, respectively.

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