Texas A&M had been able to overcome the loss of the doubles point seven times during its 13-match winning streak but doing it for an eighth time wasn't going to be easy. The Aggies came out hot in singles and took four opening sets and freshman Valentin Vacherot would put the Aggies first point on the board by winning his 14th consecutive match with a straight set win over Reese Stalder at No. 5. Vacherot jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening set but Stalder would even it at 3-3 after breaking from 15/40. Vacherot broke again to go up 5-4 but Stalder broke back to even it at 5-5. Vacherot made it three breaks in a row and then he served out the set from 40/15 to take it 7-5. Vacherot won the first two games of the second set on no-ad points and then he pulled away to take it 7-5, 6-0.
TCU junior Cameron Norrie ran his dual-match record to 11-1 with a straight set win over Arthur Rinderknech at No. 1. Norrie served for the first set up 5-4 but after going up 40/15 he double faulted on the no-ad point to put it back on serve at 5-5. Norrie broke back, when Rinderknech double faulted at 30/40, and then he served out the set at love to take it 7-5. Norrie quickly went up 5-1 in the second set but Rinderknech fought off a match point to hold for 2-5. Norrie got broke on the no-ad point after he missed a forehand long and then Rinderknech held for 4-5. Norrie would finally close it out with a hold from 40/15 via a forehand winner to take it 7-5, 6-4.
TCU's lead wouldn't last long because less than a minute later Texas A&M freshman Hady Habib would win his ninth straight match to tie it at 2-2. Habib took the opening set over Trey Daniel by a 6-2 score and then he went up 4-1 in the second. Daniel held, broke on the no-ad point, and held to even it at 4-4 and it would stay on serve until the set went to a tiebreak. Habib went up 3-1 in the tiebreak but Daniel tied it at 3-3 at the changeover. Habib went up 5-3 and then a few points later he'd close it out 7-5.
The match was tied at 2-2 but TCU was in pretty good shape because Guillermo Nunez was serving up 4-3 in the third at No. 3, Jerry Lopez was receiving up 5-1 in the third at No. 4, and Alex Rybakov was serving up 2-0 in the third at No. 2.
Nunez and Jordi Arconada had split sets at No. 3 after Arconada took the first 6-4 while Lopez took the second 6-2. Nunez went up 2-0 in the third but Arconada held, broke, and held to go in front 3-2. Nunez held for 3-3 and then broke on the no-ad point to make it 4-3. Arconada broke back from 15/40 and then held for 5-4. After an exchange of holds, Arconada would break from 30/40 to win it 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.
Literally seconds later TCU would tie it at 3-3 after Jerry Lopez closed out Aleksandre Bakshi at No. 4. Lopez and Bakshi each took a 7-5 set with Lopez serving out the first set while Bakshi broke to take the second. Lopez went up 5-1 in the third but Bakshi reeled off 11 straight points to go from 1-5 (15/15) to 3-5 (40/0). The sequence that started the 11 straight points was an overrule that went against Lopez on a Bakshi shot that appeared to clearly miss. Lopez checked out for a few games before coming back to hold from 40/30 to win 7-5, 5-7, 6-4.
The decider came at No. 2 between TCU sophomore Alex Rybakov and Texas A&M junior AJ Catanzariti. Catanzariti took the opening set 6-4 after holding on the no-ad point but Rybakov quickly went up 4-1 in the second. Catanzariti came back to tie it at 4-4 but a few games later Rybakov would break from 30/40 to take the set 7-5. Rybakov went up 2-0 in the third but Catanzariti broke and held for 2-2. After Rybakov held for 3-2 he broke from 30/40 on a Catanzariti double fault to make it 4-2. It looked like Catanzariti would break back after he went up 0/40 but Rybakov came back to hold and then he broke from 15/40 to clinch the TCU 4-3 win.
Great match by both teams!
#19 TCU 4, #8 Texas A&M 3
Mar 27, 2017 at Ft. Worth, TX (Bayard H Friedman Tennis Center)
1. #3 Cameron Norrie (TCU) def. #12 Arthur Rinderknech (TAMU) 7-5, 6-4
2. #27 Alex Rybakov (TCU) def. #116 AJ Catanzariti (TAMU) 4-6, 7-5, 6-2
3. #119 Jordi Arconada (TAMU) def. #78 Guillermo Nunez (TCU) 6-4, 2-6, 7-5
4. #81 Jerry Lopez (TCU) def. Aleksandre Bakshi (TAMU) 7-5, 5-7, 6-4
5. Valentin Vacherot (TAMU) def. Reese Stadler (TCU) 7-5, 6-0
6. Hady Habib (TAMU) def. Trey Daniel (TCU) 6-2, 7-6 (7-5)
1. Cameron Norrie/Jerry Lopez (TCU) def. Arthur Rinderknech/AJ Catanzariti (TAMU) 6-1
2. Reese Stadler/Hudson Blake (TCU) def. Valentin Vacherot/Aleksandre Bakshi (TAMU) 6-4
3. #21 Guillermo Nunez/Alex Rybakov (TCU) vs. Hady Habib/Jordi Arconada (TAMU) *5-4 (30/30), unfinished
Texas A&M 14-4; National ranking #8
TCU 11-4; National ranking #19
Order of finish: Doubles (1, 2); Singles (5,1,6,3,4,2)
Post-Match Quotes from head coach David Roditi via TCU's recap
“Tonight was a great match. I hope a lot of people got to see it on our new live stream if they were not here. We had a great crowd and it was a beautiful day. This match had two really good college teams and all the drama. We won the doubles point and then they were all over us in singles and won a lot of first sets. There was a lot of entertainment value tonight and the quality of tennis was superb especially in the doubles. I was watching at No. 3 doubles and thinking that these guys were playing really well.
“It was great that we won the doubles point. We knew that would be a huge point. Our players did a great job in singles at spots one through four and at six I thought Trey (Daniel) played very well. I would say that Hady (Habib) is the best No. 6 player in the nation right now. We knew that would be a tough point, but I am proud of the way Trey played and the way he fought.
“There is still improvement which is the beauty about this because we can still do better and there are still some things that I wasn’t happy with. We have to continue to get better because it is only going to get tougher and tougher. I am really thankful for all the people that came out and I am sure they absolutely loved the match. Anytime a match comes down to (Alex) Rybakov, he is so professional and I love the way he handles himself all the time. When it comes down to him, I know it is just pure, good tennis.”
Post Match Quotes from head coach Steve Denton via Texas A&M's recap
On the match…"The doubles finally came back to haunt us, we played a really good team tonight and we were not able to overcome the early disadvantage. It was a really close, well played college tennis match. TCU was able to win the doubles point, but then we looked really good. We took four first sets in singles and unfortunately they were able to turn one of those matches around to get the win tonight. Our guys came out and competed really well, the match came down to TCU winning a couple more three-all points. That is what matches like this come down to, 4-3 matches are generally decided on those three-all points and TCU was just able to get it done today."
On the team…"Our guys are competing and fighting hard. The guys are believing and working hard in every match. Obviously we are building confidence by the way we are playing at such a high level. It's great to see our guys playing at a high level as we reach the final couple matches of the regular season. This sport is all about momentum and we were not able to win the match tonight. Give TCU a lot of credit for the way they played tonight and we knew they were a good team coming into the match. We knew we would have to play well to win this match and our guys fought to put ourselves in a position to win tonight, but we just could not get over the hump tonight."
Great day for the Cardinal as it collects a 4-2 win over No. 25 Illinois! https://t.co/l1ziJgm3LU— StanfordMTennis (@StanfordTennis) March 27, 2017
In an early afternoon match in Palo Alto, it was #22 Stanford defeating #25 Illinois 4-2. Stanford picked up the all-important doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 3 though neither were easy. Tom Fawcett and Yale Goldberg jumped out to a 4-1 lead at No. 1 but Illinois battled back to tie it at 4-4. Fawcett and Goldberg would take the last two games to pick up the 6-4 win. Vuk Budic and Aleks Vukic picked up a late break to give Illinois a 7-5 win at No. 2 but Stanford's David Wilczynski and Brandon Sutter broke Illinois on the no-ad point to clinch the doubles point with a 7-5 win at No. 3.
Each team picked up three first sets in singles and all five matches that finished were closed out in straight sets. Brandon Sutter put Stanford ahead 2-0 after he broke Zeke Clark on the no-ad point to win 6-2, 6-2 at No. 5. David Wilczynski made it 3-0 with a 6-1, 6-2 win at No. 4 but Illinois came back with straight set wins by Aleks Vukic and Aleks Kovacevic at No. 1 and No. 3.
Illinois's Gui Gomes had a 7-5, 4-4 lead at No. 2 but the outcome of his match wasn't going to matter unless his teammate Vuk Budic could find a way to get his match at No. 6 back on serve.
Stanford freshman William Genesen took the first set 6-4 and then he broke Budic to start the second set and would extend the lead to 3-1. Budic had a few break point opportunities to even it up but Genesen fought them all off including when he fell behind 30/40 on his 6-4, 5-4 service game. After Genesen got it to the no-ad point he won it when Budic netted a forehand which gave Stanford the 4-2 win.
Note: Illinois played without Aron Hiltzik (#2 singles/#1 doubles) who missed the match for unknown reasons. Hiltzik defeated Cal's Andre Goransson 7-5 in the third just a few days ago so it must have been either illness or injury.
#22 Stanford 4, #25 Illinois 2
March 27, 2017 at Palo Alto, Calif (Taube Family Tennis Stadium)
1. Fawcett/Goldberg (Stanford) def. Jesse/Kovacevic (Illinois) 6-4
2. Budic/Vukic (Illinois) def. #67 Kumar/Genender (Stanford) 7-5
3. Wilczynski/Sutter (Stanford) def. Clark/Gomes (Illinois) 7-5
1. #20 Aleks Vukic (Illinois) def. #15 Tom Fawcett (Stanford) 6-3, 6-0
2. Gui Gomes (Illinois) vs. #115 Sameer Kumar (Stanford) 7-5, 4-4, unf.
3. Aleks Kovacevic (Illinois) def. #99 Michael Genender (Stanford) 6-3, 6-2
4. David Wilczynski (Stanford) def. Julian Childers (Illinois) 6-1, 6-2
5. Brandon Sutter (Stanford) def. Zeke Clark (Illinois) 6-2, 6-2
6. William Genesen (Stanford) def. Vuk Budic (Illinois) 6-4, 6-4
Stanford 9-4; National ranking #22
Illinois 9-8; National ranking #25
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (5,4,1,3,6*)
Post-Match Quotes from head coach Brad Dancer via Illinois's recap
"For our program and for the standards we set, this is a disappointing road trip. I do think we are learning and growing in areas but then we sometimes take steps back. As a team, we have the players. We have to find the right combinations for doubles play and the coaches have to get more out of our guys. It's no use saying we are better than this unless we begin performing. It's time."