Rybakov’s clutch win clinches 4-3 victory over No. 8 Texas A&M

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Alex Rybakov and Reese Stalder celebrate the winning point to upset Texas A&M on the Frogs’ final home match. Photo by Jack Wallace

No. 10 TCU (17-5) squeaked out a 4-3 win over No. 8 Texas A&M (19-5) on Saturday to end its home regular season on a high note.

“We needed to beat a top-10 team,” head coach David Roditi said. “We came short with Baylor and Texas, so for us to bounce back and beat [A&M], I’m just really proud of them. They’re a good team.”

The Frogs have now won five-consecutive matches against the Aggies, including four-straight 4-3 finishes.

Reese Stalder and Bertus Kruger bask in victory after clinching the doubles point against Texas A&M on April 8, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace

Doubles Get Back in the Groove

The No. 13 Reese Stalder/Bertus Kruger team continued to find its stride, winning 6-2 against A&M after defeating Texas 6-3 last week.

The No. 3 doubles team of Luc Fomba and Sander Jong fell shortly after, 3-6. The team now has just two wins in its last eight matches.

An Alex Rybakov/Alastair Gray victory quickly followed, marking the pair’s second win in a row as the new No. 1 doubles team. This win clinched another doubles point for the Frogs.

Luc Fomba lets loose his emotions with his strong victory over Texas A&M on April 8, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace

Singles Stay Neck-and-Neck with Strong Finishes

Newly ranked at No. 110, Stalder opened up singles with a quick 3-6, 4-6 loss to conclude his home career. This loss marks his third in a row, which is his worst streak of the season. He had one loss in his previous eleven matches before this cold streak.

Fomba had one of his most impressive performances of the season, bouncing back from a poor first set with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 win. These wins pushed the Frogs back in front overall 2-1.

“I told Fomba when I can hear him is when he plays his best tennis,” Roditi said. “In the second set, I starting hearing him, and  I thought, ‘Ok, here we go. This is where the best is to come.’”

Not long after, Jong delivered another strong win, 7-5, 6-4, to leave the Frogs just one win away from taking the match.

Gray continued his cold streak in conference play, falling 6-7 (3-7), 5-7 loss against the Aggies to close the gap to 3-2.

Bertus Kruger celebrates a fantastic first set win against Texas A&M on April 8, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace

Despite a solid first set, Kruger still couldn’t find a break in the second or third, and he fell 6-4, 1-6, 2-6. Those sets mark a four-match losing streak, which is his worst stretch of the season. The losses tied the teams at 3-3, putting the clinching match onto No. 4 Rybakov.

Rybakov has experience in this situation; when the team was tied 3-3 against Texas A&M in 2017, he won the match for the Horned Frogs.

Alex Rybakov amps himself up after a point win against Texas A&M on April 8, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace

In a nailbiting, 7-6 (7-1), 6-7 (2-7), 6-3 finish, Rybakov repeated history and delivered one of the biggest victories of his career.

“We were in the middle of a point, going back and forth, back and forth,” Rybakov said. “And the last ball, I thought was going in, but it just sailed long. As soon as I saw it was out, a bunch of emotions: happy, relief, just I’m so glad, couldn’t think of a better way to finish in front of amazing crowd, amazing coaches, amazing teammates.”

This win moves his record to 13-2 at the No. 1 singles position on the year.

“That guy is so good. Rybakov had all the pressure on him, all the expectations,” Roditi said. “We’re proud of him, he’s been unbelievable for us.”

Up Next:

TCU has concluded its home slate, going 12-2 in Fort Worth. The Frogs own a 64-5 home record over the last six years, including a 15-0 record in 2015 and 14-0 run in 2014. The last time TCU lost more than two home matches was 2013 when it went 8-7 at home.

The Frogs will march into the Sooner State to take on No. 17 Oklahoma and No. 34 Oklahoma State this upcoming weekend to conclude the regular season.

The TCU men’s tennis squad celebrates another top 10 win under their belts over Texas A&M on April 8, 2019. Photo by Jack Wallace