Trailing 5-2 in the third set with the team score knotted at three points apiece, Texas junior Ben Chen rallied to win his match and preserve a dramatic 4-3 win for the 17th-ranked Longhorns (16-7, 2-2 Big 12) over No. 27 Texas A&M (12-12, 1-3 Big 12) Saturday evening in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown.
The win gives Texas one point in the 2011-12 State Farm Lone Star Showdown standings. Texas holds a 9.0-3.0 lead over the Aggies in the all-sports competition between the two schools. Texas can clinch the 2011-12 State Farm Lone Star Showdown by picking up one point in either baseball, softball, men’s and women’s golf or men’s and women’s track and field.
Texas A&M had rallied to even the match at three-all and was on pace to complete its comeback with a win at sixth singles, as the Aggies’ Niall Angus opened up a 5-2 lead on Chen. However, the Texas junior broke Angus to pull within 5-3 and held serve to cut the deficit to 5-4. Serving 30-40, Angus slapped a backhand into the net to allow Chen to pull even at five games apiece.
Chen yielded the first point in his next service game but took the next four points to assume a 6-5 lead. At 15-all on Angus’ serve, a crisp forehand from Chen forced an errant return from Angus. Chen forced Angus to net another forehand and set up two match points, but Angus saved them both. Angus, however, double-faulted on the next point, and Chen converted the ensuing match point moments later, as Angus smacked another forehand into the net to give the Horns the once-improbable 4-3 win.
“I knew that since the crowd was coming to my court that it might come down to my match,” Chen said. “I was just trying to play every point as tough as I could. I got off to a slow start at the beginning of the third set, but with the support of my teammates and coaches, I was able to get it done. Tonight was just a team effort all the way through.”
Texas opened the match by claiming a tightly-contested doubles session to take the doubles point and assume a 1-0 lead. Texas’ Chen and Daniel Whitehead broke for a 5-2 lead at second doubles over the Aggies’ Niall Angus and John Lewis. The Texas tandem held serve the rest of the way en route to an 8-4 victory.
Texas’ 26th-ranked duo of Chris Camillone and David Holiner trailed A&M’s 41st-ranked duo of Junior Ore and Jackson Withrow by a 6-3 count at first doubles before evening the match at six. Texas later broke for an 8-7 lead and held serve in the final game to preserve a 9-7 win and nail down the doubles point for the Longhorns. Texas A&M’s Colin Hoover and Alexis Klegou edged UT’s Soren Hess-Olesen and Jacoby Lewis in a tiebreaker at third doubles, 9-8 (5).
Texas’ Hess-Olesen took the first set off of A&M’s Ore in a tiebreaker at first singles, 7-6 (4) before cruising to a 6-3 second-set win to give the Horns their second point of the match. UT’s Holiner staked Texas to a 3-0 lead at fourth singles after posting a 6-2, 6-4 win over the Aggies’ Jeremy Efferding.
A&M cut the lead to 3-1 with a 7-6 (4), 6-2 win from Klegou over UT’s Whitehead. Texas A&M pulled within 3-2 when John Lewis rallied for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 win over UT’s Lloyd Glasspool at fifth singles. The Aggies tied the match at three when Hoover finished off a 2-6, 7-6 (6), 6-2 win over Texas’ Sitaram at third singles and set the stage for Chen’s heroics.