COLLEGE STATION, TX – The University at Buffalo men's tennis team went toe-to-toe with #13 Texas A&M in the first round of the NCAA Championships at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center on Friday afternoon. The Bulls lost to the SEC Champion, 4-0, but the final score was no indication of how well UB played.
It started in doubles action when the team of Villhelm Fridell and Petr Vodak won their match 6-3 to give the Bulls an early lead. However, Hao Sheng Koay and Filip Grbic fell to #9 A.J. Catanzariti and Arthur Rinderknech, 6-3, and Tony Miller and Ethan Nittolo lost to Aleksandre Bakshi and Max Lunkin, 6-3, to give the Aggies the doubles point.
In singles action, Koay had the tough task of taking on Rinderknech, the sixth-ranked player in the nation at one singles. The UB freshman dropped the match, 6-3, 6-4.
At three singles, Grbic fell to Catanzariti, 6-3, 7-5 and Aleksandre Bakshi clinched the match with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Vodak at five singles.
The Bulls should have recorded at least one point as Fridell had Valentin Vacherot on the ropes, leading 7-5, 5-3, and match point on his racquet. However, Vacherot, who had only lost three matches all year, stalled long enough for the Aggies to win the deciding match before Fridell could serve for the win.
Elsewhere, Nittolo was in the third set and Vidit Vaghela was trailing in the second set of his match when the Aggies clinched the match.
"I just watched a MAC team compete with an SEC Championship team up and down the line for two and a half hours," head coach Lee Nickell said. "It was in conditions that we haven't seen and against levels [of competition] that we haven't seen. I am emotional right now because I don't want the season to be done.
"This has been amazing. These guys fight. They fight hard and today was that. We have so much to build on. We have seven guys coming back from this squad next year. We want everyone to know that we are on our way. We are right there."
Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton had kind words for the effort the Bulls put forth today.
"This was the first time in a while that I think we've had a four seed that came in here like this and I knew that they were going to give us a hard time," Denton said. "I knew about the effort and attitude from Buffalo. They were going work hard and play gritty. I knew we were going to have a fight on our hands. We had to dig down, and dig deep today to get that win. Doubles was certainly a question. They tested us in all the matches. There were no easy matches."
#13 Texas A&M 4, Buffalo 0
1. #6 Arthur Rinderknech (TAMU) def. Hao Sheng Koay (UB) 6-3, 6-4
2. #48 Jordi Arconada (TAMU) vs. Vidit Vaghela (UB) 7-5, 5-2, unfinished
3. AJ Catanzariti (TAMU) def. Filip Grbic (UB) 6-3, 7-5
4. Valentin Vacherot (TAMU) vs. Villhelm Fridell (UB) 5-7, 3-5, unfinished
5. Aleksandre Bakshi (TAMU) def. Petr Vodak (UB) 6-4, 7-5
6. Max Lunkin (TAMU) vs. Ethan Nittolo (UB) 3-6, 7-5, 2-0, unfinished