COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The 10th-ranked Texas A&M men’s tennis team will open the 2011 campaign at the friendly confines of the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center on the Texas A&M campus this Saturday, Jan. 22 with a twinbill against Louisiana at 12 noon and an exhibition match against Abilene Christian to follow at 4 p.m.

Aggie head coach Steve Denton enters his fifth year at the helm of the men’s tennis program, and along with his assistant coach Bob McKinley, the duo has led A&M to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances and back-to-back trips to the Sweet 16 in 2009 and 2010.

“This is a deep and experienced group of guys with a good mix of young talented players,” Denton said. “Anytime you have matches in late January and early February you have the possibility of challenging weather. The guys worked hard last week in some difficult weather and they responded well. That mental toughness will help us work through weather challenges and challenging matches.”

“We like playing the doubleheaders to give more of our players experience and to keep them dialed in,” Denton explained. “It is a long season and keeping guys sharp in case of injury or if we need to make changes in the lineup, this experience helps. Another benefit to having a large squad is we are able to play matches and practice against different guys. You don’t get stale from playing against the same competition.”

The Aggies finished the 2010 season with an overall record of 25-7, the second-most wins in school history, including 18 wins against ranked competition. The squad advanced to the NCAA round of 16 and ended the year ranked No. 10, the highest finish by an A&M men’s tennis team since the 2001 team ended the year ranked No. 7.

The Aggies return 12 letter winners from last spring with the only loss being senior Marcus Lunt (San Antonio) who finished with a 9-2 record and was 4-0 at the No. 4 position and 4-2 at the No. 6 slot.

“I was pleased with the guys and their maturity by reporting back in good shape,” Denton said. “In collegiate tennis you shut down team practice right before Thanksgiving and then start up in January. Getting the guys back to practice before school started allowed us to go hard and the players responded.”

This year’s squad has depth and experience led by the nation’s top-ranked doubles tandem of Jeff Dadamo (Tampa, FL) and Austin Krajicek (Brandon, FL). The Aggie doubles team won the fall doubles national championship at the 2010 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships held in Flushing, New York.

Both Dadamo and Krajicek are returning All-Americans and in addition to their doubles expertise, Krajicek, the 2010 Co-Big 12 Player of the Year, is ranked No. 23 in singles and Dadamo is ranked No. 54 in the latest rankings.

In addition to the senior duo, the doubles team of junior Colin Hoover (Victoria, TX) and sophomore Alberto Bautista (McAllen, TX) is ranked No. 32, while sophomore Niall Angus (London, England) and senior teammate Alexey Grigorov (Moscow, Russia) are No. 49.

In singles, in addition to Krajicek and Dadamo, Angus is ranked No. 51 with Hoover at No. 95 and junior Alexis Klegou (Dunkerque, France) at No. 106.

Other returning lettermen include senior leaders Calon Alpar (Austin, TX) and Kayvon Karimi (Dallas, TX), junior letterman John Lewis (Birmingham, AL) and sophomore lettermen Beau Blackshear (Brentwood, TN) and Austin Klores (Franklin, TX). Freshman Daniel Brown (Montgomery, TX) played in the fall for the Aggies and three new freshmen faces joined the A&M ranks in January Junior Ore (Gaithersburg, MD), Jordan Szabo (Victoria, Australia) and Jackson Withrow (Omaha, NE).

Louisiana, from the Sun Belt Conference, opens play on Thursday (Jan. 20) at Baylor before coming to Aggieland.

LIVE stats will be available at AggieAthletics.com during the matches.
Gates to the Mitchell Tennis Center will open one hour prior to competition.


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