No. 3 Men's Tennis to meet No. 9 Texas A&M for Big 12 title
April 20, 2010
Far more than in-state bragging rights will be at stake when No. 3 Texas (21-2, 4-0 Big 12) meets No. 9 Texas A&M (20-4, 5-0 Big 12) on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at UT's Penick-Allison Tennis Center.
With both teams unbeaten in conference play heading into the match, Wednesday's winner will emerge with one point in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown standings and a first-round bye in next week's Big 12 Championships in Austin.
A win for Texas would lock up at least a share of the Big 12 regular season championship and the top seed at the Big 12 Championships. A win for Texas A&M would give the Aggies the conference title outright, given that Wednesday's match is their last Big 12 regular season contest. A Texas win on Wednesday against Texas A&M and another win on Sunday at Nebraska would give the Horns the conference title, outright.
Texas head coach Michael Center holds a 13-6 record against the Aggies through his 10 seasons in Austin. Leading the Aggies is third-year head coach Steve Denton, a former All-America standout at Texas who picked up his first career win against the Longhorns last season.
The Horns and Aggies met earlier this season in Houston, where Texas dealt Texas A&M a 4-3 defeat in February at the Texas Cup.
Texas head coach Michael Center
On the Texas-Texas A&M men's tennis rivalry: It's an exciting match regardless of what the stakes are going into the match. There will be a lot of emotion out there, of course. This is the first time we've played for a conference title since 2001 when they beat us in the finals at the conference tournament. We've played a lot of big matches over last several years with significant ramifications, and we've had some great battles. I think you'll see two legitimate top-10 teams playing a match for the conference title, and it will be a really exciting night. If you've never seen a college tennis match, you would do well to come out and see this one on Wednesday night.
On some of UT's most memorable wins against Texas A&M: One of the most memorable matches was in 2002. Texas A&M had beaten us the year before and won conference title. We were trying to establish ourselves and climb the ranks. The match came down to Roger Gubser's court. The match was tied at three, and Roger was up 5-4 in the third set against A&M's Khaled El Dorry, who was a tremendous player. Roger served the match out, and he served and volleyed the whole game. That was a great win for us.
Another one was in 2008 with the conference title on the line. Luis Diaz Barriga was out there against A&M's Wil Spencer. The level of tennis was just so high and the conditions were tough. Both Luis and Wil played terrific tennis, and we were fortunate to come out on top. Luis was just such a clincher for us in that point in his career, and that was another great effort from Luis. Those two matches really stand out, but we have had so many special matches with the Aggies. I expect this one to be another great match!
Senior Jon Wiegand (San Antonio)
On what fans coming out for the match should expect: The fans coming out for the match Wednesday night can expect two proud programs coming out to fight really hard and compete at a very high level. They respect each other, but they want to take each other down and win the Big 12 title.
On his favorite Texas-Texas A&M memory: I think my favorite memory was the match we won in College Station in 2007. It was a bizarre match with the power outage we had at the end. But, the match as a whole really summed up what this team was made of and how we would battle no matter what kind of adversity we faced.
Senior Josh Zavala (Amarillo)
On his first memory of the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry: My first memory was the 2007 match in College Station. The conditions weren't easy to deal with, but we knew we had to do whatever necessary to win. I remember in the second set, I was up 5-3 and serving deuce to go up match point. I came in three times and got lobbed three times, and that's what it took to get to match point and go on and win.
On what fans coming out for the match should expect: I think fans can expect a lot of intensity. It will be loud and everyone will be fired up. Texas A&M will come in here fired up, and hopefully we can get the win.