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When Texas A&M made the transition from the Big 12 to the SEC in the summer of 2012 they were coming off their first losing season since 1997 and it had been 10 years since the Aggies had won a conference or division title.  Fast forward to the summer of 2015 and in the past 3 years the Aggies have won a West Division title (2013), a Conference Tournament title (2014), and another Conference Tournament title with a share of the Regular Season title (2015) to boot. (Note: SEC discontinued divisions after the 2013 season and combined everyone into one group)

I don’t know if it was the SEC branding or the incoming talent (latter) but the Aggies have quickly turned into a juggernaut in the SEC with no opposing team wanting to go to College Station on a Friday night or Sunday afternoon.  Texas A&M is 32-3 at home over the last 2 years and a perfect 15-0 against the SEC with windy conditions and rowdy crowds the norm for incoming opposition.

Steve Denton’s teams have made the NCAA tournament each of the past 9 years but they’ve yet to make back-to-back trips to the NCAA Round of 16 but I have to think Denton likes his chances this year.  Last year’s run to the Elite 8 marked only the second time in school history that A&M had made it that deep with the first time coming back in 2001.

Here is an interesting fact about Steve Denton that many may not realize – he played in 7 Grand Slam finals in his pro career. He finished as the Australian Open singles runner-up twice (81/82), he played in 2 men’s doubles finals winning the 1982 US Open with his college partner Kevin Curren and finishing as runner-up at the 1983 Australian Open, and he played in 3 mixed-doubles finals (USO 83, Wimb 83/84) finishing as runner-up each time.

Denton returns 5 singles and 4 doubles starters from last year’s team but the 2 guys (Efferding/Szabo) that he lost were major contributors. Jeremy Efferding went 12-3 last season with 8 of those results coming at #1 singles and in doubles he teamed up with Jordan Szabo to go 17-7 with 17 of those results (14-3) coming at #2 doubles.

Denton added 5 freshman to the roster with 4 of them on campus for the fall semester. Kevin Lam, Oscar Janglin, and Sam Giammalva played in multiple fall tournaments while Henry Gordon sat out with a leg injury and Aleksandre Bakshi will join the team in January.

Arthur Rinderknech (Soph) and Shane Vinsant (Sr) are the top returning players with each likely to play at #1 and #2 singles this season. Rinderknech went 14-4 last season splitting time between #3 and #4 but he really tore it up this fall by going 13-2 including 5 wins over ranked opponents. Rinderknech won the singles title at the USTA/ITA Texas Regional and went undefeated at the Texas A&M Conference Challenge. Vinsant split time between #1 and #2 last season going 8-3 but he ended up being the king of the DNF (Did Not Finish) with 13 of his dual-matches not finishing for one reason or another. Vinsant’s best result this fall was a quarterfinal appearance at the ITA All-Americans.

AJ Catanzariti (Soph) and Jordi Arconada (Soph) will be strong candidates to play at the #3 and #4 spots. Catanzariti posted a team best 20 dual-match wins last season as the fast worker (16 straight set wins) from Pittsburgh only had 1 regular season match go unfinished. This fall he picked up his first ATP point in singles at his hometown Pittsburgh USA F20 Futures event. Arconada joined the team last January and after sitting out for the first two months he quickly worked his way into the lineup and started 19 dual-matches going 10-5 with another 4 that didn’t finish. He spent the most time at #6 last season but I expect him to move up a few spots this year and he’ll definitely be a starter in the doubles lineup after going 10-3 on the Futures circuit with a title, a runner-up, and a semifinal appearance.

Harrison Adams (Sr) started out slowly last year losing his first 8 dual-matches before turning it around and going 5-3 down the stretch. Adams started last season at #1 and finished at #4 so I’m sure he’s hoping to play more like a #1 than a #4 this season. Adams didn’t play any college events this fall though he did play the Waco Futures winning a match 0 & 0 before losing by the same score to teammate Jordi Arconada. It’s tough to know where Adams will fit in this year but I think he probably starts out at #4 or #5 but could easily climb higher if he can regain his 2014 form that saw him go 9-7 at #1.

Max Lunkin (Jr) went 9-1 last year including 4-1 against SEC opponents with most of his matches coming at #6. Lunkin had 1 ranked win this fall with his best results coming at the Texas A&M Conference Challenge. I’d give Lunkin a strong chance at starting the season at #6.

Aleksandre Bakshi is set to join the team in January as Arconada did last year and Lunkin did the year prior. Bakshi is a former top 50 ITF junior and has the highest ATP singles ranking among current Aggies so once he gets settled in I expect he’ll move into the starting 6.

Jackson Withrow (RSr) and Henry Gordon (Fr) would have been in the singles mix but both are coming back from injuries so I’d be surprised to see either starting anytime soon. Withrow joined the Aggies all the way back in January 2011 but he’s taken 2 redshirt seasons (very rare) with the first coming in the spring of 2011 and the second coming last year due to a right wrist injury. Withrow played at #1 doubles in 2012, 2013, and 2014 and in 2013 and 2014 he and Junior Ore qualified for the NCAA Tournament.  He also went 10-7 at #5 singles back in 2014

Kevin Lam (Fr), Oscar Janglin (Fr), Sam Giammalva (Fr), James Martell (Jr), Frankie Colunga (Jr), and Jett Cash (So) will provide depth but likely won’t suit up too many times this season.

Texas A&M went 23-6 in doubles last year but they’ll have to replace 2 starters (Efferding/Szabo) who combined to go 17-7 last year. Shane Vinsant and Harrison Adams will likely team up for a fourth year in a row while AJ Catanzariti and Arthur Rinderknech, who went 18-6 last year, will probably move up from #3 to #2. I’d look for Jordi Arconada to play doubles with either Max Lunkin or Jackson Withrow but of course it’d possible that Denton could shake it up and come up with some all new pairings.

Below are each players fall college records (singles/doubles) along with a list of accomplishments. The ranking listed in front of a player is the ITA preseason ranking. Jackson Withrow, Henry Gordon, and Harrison Adams didn’t play in any fall events.

#53 Arthur Rinderknech (13-2/8-2) – won the USTA/ITA Texas Regional, made it to the quarterfinals at the National Indoor Intercollegiates with ranked wins over #17 Austin Smith (Georgia) and #23 Dovydas Sakinis (Dartmouth), went 4-0 in singles at the Texas A&M Conference Challenge with ranked wins over #46 Aron Hiltzik (Illinois) and #101 Hugo Dojas (Texas Tech), made it to the doubles finals at the Texas Regional (w Vinsant), went 3-0 in doubles at the Conference Challenge with 3 different partners, earned an ATP point in singles at the Waco USA F34 Futures

#35 Shane Vinsant (7-4/6-3) – made it to the Round of 16 at the ITA All-Americans by beating #17 Austin Smith (Georgia) and #37 Naoki Takeda (Arizona), made it to the quarterfinals at the Texas Regional, made it to the doubles finals at the Texas Regional (w Rinderknech), earned an ATP point in singles at the Tulsa USA F19 Futures

#55 AJ Catanzariti (4-4/4-3) – earned his first and second career ATP points in singles at the Pittsburgh USA F20 and Decatur USA F24 Futures, made the doubles semifinals at the Pittsburgh USA F20 (w Arconada), made it to the Round of 16 at the Texas Regional, went 2-1 in singles and doubles at the Texas A&M Conference Challenge

Jordi Arconada (7-4/6-3) – won the doubles title at the Godfrey USA F22 Futures (w D Cotrone), made it to the doubles final at the Rochester USA F18 Futures (w D Cotrone), earned an ATP point in singles at the Rochester USA F18 Futures, came through the pre-qualie draw at the All-Americans by winning 4 matches in 3 days before falling in the opening round of qualies, qualified for the doubles main draw at the All-Americans (w Lunkin) before falling in the opening round.

Max Lunkin (6-6/8-5) –  went 3-1 in singles at the Texas A&M Conference Challenge, picked up a ranked win over #118 Thomas Colautti (Princeton) at the LSU Invitational, qualified for the doubles main draw at the All-Americans (w Arconada) before falling in the opening round

Kevin Lam (15-5/9-4) – went 4-0 at the LSU Invitational, won the Flight 2 singles draw at the Collin County (JUCO) Invitational, won his first 2 pre-qualie matches at the All-Americans, won his first 2 matches at the USTA/ITA Texas Regional, went 3-0 in doubles at the Texas A&M Conference Challenge with 3 different partners

Oscar Janglin (5-5/2-5) – won his first round match at both the Racquet Club Invitational and USTA/ITA Texas Regional

Sam Giammalva (7-5/2-2) – went 4-0 in singles at the A&M Conference Challenge, made the semifinals at the Collin County (JUCO) Invitational

James Martell (11-6/11-3) – won the Flight 2 singles draw at the Racquet Club Invitational, won the doubles title at the Collin County (JUCO) Invitational (w Colunga), made the semifinals of the Flight 1 singles draw at the Collin County (JUCO) Invitational, went 3-1 in singles and 3-0 in doubles at the Texas A&M Conference Challenge

Frankie Colunga (10-9/9-4) – won the doubles title at the Collin County (JUCO) Invitational (w Martell), the made the semifinals of the Flight 2 singles draw at the Racquet Club Invitational, made the finals of the Flight 1 singles draw at the Collin County (JUCO) Invitational

Jett Cash (3-7, 3-2) – made the finals of the Flight 4 singles draw at the Collin County (JUCO) Invitational, made the doubles semifinals at the Collin County (JUCO) Invitational (w Lam)

Harrison Adams (0-0) – only action of the fall came at the Waco TX USA F34 Futures – played qualies and won his opening match 6-0, 6-0 before falling to Jordi Arconada 6-0, 6-0

Aleksandre Bakshi (joining team in January) – made the singles quarterfinals and doubles semifinals at the Georgia F5 Futures, made the doubles semifinals at the Georgia F3 Futures

Projected Depth Chart:
1. Arthur Rinderknech
2. Shane Vinsant
3. AJ Catanzariti
4. Jordi Arconada
5. Harrison Adams
6. Max Lunkin
7. Aleksandre Bakshi
8. Kevin Lam
9. Oscar Janglin
10. Sam Giammalva
11. James Martell
12. Frankie Colunga
13. Jett Cash
Withrow & Gordon recovering from injuries

Players With A Current ATP Singles Ranking as of 12/28/15 – high in ( )
#1445 – Aleksandre Bakshi (1192)
#1636 – AJ Catanzariti (1548)
#1900 – Shane Vinsant  (1058)
#1900 – Arthur Rinderknech (1786)
#2087 – Jordi Arconada (1243)

Universal Tennis Rating as of 12/29/15:
14.54 – Arthur Rinderknech
14.05 – Shane Vinsant
13.80 – Jordi Arconada
13.55 – AJ Catanzariti
13.43 – Max Lunkin
13.42 – Aleksandre Bakshi
13.06 – Oscar Janglin
13.03 – Harrison Adams
13.00 – Henry Gordon
12.72 – Kevin Lam
12.38 – James Martell
12.13 – Frankie Colunga
12.08 – Jackson Withrow (0%)
11.74 – Sam Giammalva
10.97 – Jett Cash

Universal Tennis Rating as of 6/3/15
14.34 – Arthur Rinderknech
14.22 – AJ Catanzariti
14.09 – Shane Vinsant
13.69 – Jordi Arconada
13.63 – Harrison Adams
13.43 – Aleksandre Bakshi
13.08 – Max Lunkin
12.98 – Henry Gordon
12.93 – Oscar Janglin
12.55 – Frankie Colunga
12.24 – Kevin Lam
12.21 – James Martell
11.66 – Sam Giammalva
11.03 – Jett Cash
**didn’t make note of Withrow’s UTR in June

Pre-College Ratings/Rankings:

Peak ITF Junior Ranking:
#19 – Shane Vinsant
#49 – Aleksandre Bakshi
#55 – Jordi Arconada
#55 – Max Lunkin
#116 – Oscar Janglin
#154 – AJ Catanzariti
#371 – Harrison Adams
#401 – Arthur Rinderknech
#742 – Henry Gordon
#1258 – Jett Cash
#1543 – Kevin Lam

TennisRecruiting.Net Star Rating/High Ranking (Americans Only)
Blue Chip #2 – Shane Vinsant
Blue Chip #2 – Harrison Adams
Blue Chip #4 – Jordi Arconada
Blue Chip #6 – Jackson Withrow
Blue Chip #9 – AJ Catanzariti
5-star #21 – Henry Gordon
4-star #69 – Frankie Colunga
4-star #70 – Kevin Lam
4-star #129 – Sam Gimmalva
Not Rated #80 – Oscar Janglin
Not Rated #103 – James Martell

TRN Yearly Recruiting Rankings:
2015 – #13 (Gordon, Giammalva, Lam, Janglin, Bakshi)
2014 – RV – (Arconada, Catanzariti, Rinderknech, Cash)
2013 – NR – (Moreiras, Colunga, Lunkin)
2012 – #4 (Adams, Vinsant – Mitchell Krueger & Josh Ward-Hibbert turned pro)

RV = received votes but not enough to make the Top 25

2016-17 Recruiting Class:
Hady Habib – Houston, TX – TRN Blue Chip #4 – UTR 13.81

January Roster Addition 
Aleksandre Bakshi – Tblisi, Georgia


Texas A&M opens up the season at home against Fresno State and the San Francisco/Boise State winner during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend then they get a big test when they go to Waco on February 3rd to face a Baylor team that has to replace 3 starters. The schedule doesn’t let up as they host Florida State and a Top 15 South Florida team at home before heading off to Charlottesville for the National Team Indoors. The next weekend they hit the road again to face Ohio State and Illinois with Ohio State expected to be inside the Top 10. During conference play A&M welcomes in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama while they go to Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt. In the middle of A&M’s conference schedule they host what will likely be a Top 5 TCU squad. So as you can see it’ll be a very challenging schedule for Steve Denton’s crew.

2015 STATS

Returning singles starters: Shane Vinsant (2), Arthur Rinderknech (3), Harrison Adams (4), AJ Catanzariti (5), Jordi Arconada (6)
Departing singles starters: Jeremy Efferding (1)
Returning doubles starters: Vinsant/Adams (1), Rinderknech/Catanzariti (3)
Departing doubles starters: Efferding/Szabo (2)
Returning depth: Max Lunkin, Frankie Colunga, Jackson Withrow (sat out last season)
Departing depth: Jordan Szabo, Max Montague
Texas A&M will compete for another SEC Championship and with Georgia and Florida coming to College Station the Aggies will have the upper-hand if they can hold serve at home. As I mentioned above the out of conference schedule is tough with TCU, Ohio State, Baylor, South Florida, and Illinois lined up plus they’ll face another 3 Top 20 teams in Charlottesville.

Rinderknech and Vinsant will be fine up top but it’ll be interesting to see how well Catanzariti and Arconada perform if they are moved up a few spots. Adams needs to bounce back this season and the Aggies need Lunkin/Bakshi to do well at #6.  I’m not expecting an undefeated season but I’m thinking a regular season record of around 25-6 is doable. A record anywhere near that would let them host a regional which should help them get to Tulsa for the NCAA Round of 16. I think another trip to the Elite 8 is possible but they’ll need everyone upping their game in crunch time.


Texas A&M ran into a buzz-saw in the NCAA quarterfinals and got beat 4-0 by the eventual national champion Virginia Cavaliers – my recap with video clips.

[3] Virginia def. [6] #5 Texas A&M 4-0  
May 16, 2015 – Hurd Tennis Center Riverside Courts 
Doubles Competition    
1. #10 Harrison Adams/Shane Vinsant (aTm) vs. #2 Luca Corinteli/Ryan Shane (UVA) 7-4
2. #42 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski/Mac Styslinger (UVA) def. #56 Efferding/Szabo (aTm) 8-4
3. Collin Altamirano/J.C. Aragone (UVA) def. Rinderknech/Catanzariti (aTm) 8-5 
Singles Competition
1. #8 Ryan Shane (UVA 14.88) vs. #47 Jeremy Efferding (aTm 14.40)  6-2, 2-3, unf
2. #20 Mitchell Frank (UVA 14.53) vs. #80 Shane Vinsant (aTm 14.24) 6-3, 2-1, unf
3. #84 Arthur Rinderknech (aTm 14.34) vs. #77 Collin Altamirano (UVA 14.72) 6-1,1-6,1-0
4. #19 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (UVA 14.77) def. #78 Harrison Adams (aTm 13.64) 6-1, 6-2
5. Alexander Ritschard (UVA 14.07) def. #92 AJ Catanzariti (aTm 14.33) 6-2, 6-1
6. J.C. Aragone(UVA 14.08) def. Jordi Arconada (aTm 13.68) 6-4, 6-3
Match Notes:
Virginia 27-3
Texas A&M 24-5
Order of Finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (5,4,6)