The Texas A&M women’s tennis team got a much-needed victory tonight, snapping a three-match losing skid by defeating South Florida, 5-2, in front of 627 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
“We needed a win tonight. Desperately, we needed a win,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “A couple of days ago, I really felt like we had one of the best practices we have had all semester. The girls just got rejuvenated and got turned back around again. That really made the difference in the match.”
The Aggies (4-4) swept the doubles matches for only the second time this season to take a 1-0 lead. The duo of Morgan Frank and Christi Liles gave A&M the early edge with a convincing 8-2 victory over Iciri Rai and Jessica Zok at the No. 2 line. A&M’s Sheri Olivier and Elzé Potgieter jumped out to a 7-0 lead at No. 3 and clinched the point after defeating Allyn Mueller and Jessica Sweeting, 8-2.
Janelle Cuthbertson and Stephanie Davidson, competing together for only the second time, completed the sweep, defeating Irena Regberger and Lauren Shumate, 8-5 at the No. 1 line.
“We won all three doubles before, but not like this,” Kleinecke said. “I was very pleased with the doubles. The energy was so high. We were in control at No. 2 and No. 3 by far, and it wasn’t that they were bad players. It was just that we took control of it and didn’t let them back up. And No. 1 doubles, this is only the second match they have played together, and I really feel like they are gelling and they have a great possibility to do some good things this year.”
Liles quickly put the Aggies up, 2-0, at the start of singles, racing to a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Mueller at the No. 4 line.
At the No. 2 line, Frank didn’t drop a game to Sweeting in the first set but then found herself trailing, 5-4, in the second set. Frank then reeled off two straight games to get the win and put A&M ahead, 3-0.
Freshman Ashley Turpin, playing in her first dual match, then clinched the win for A&M, defeating Lauren Shumate, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 6.
Cuthbertson won her first set against Rai, 6-3, but Rai cruised to a 6-0 win in the second set. With the overall team match already decided, the two played a 10-point super tiebreaker, which Rai narrowly won, 11-9, to give the Bulls their first point of the match.
Potgieter and Regberger also went to a super tiebreaker at No. 1. After splitting the first two sets, Potgieter came back from a 5-3 deficit in the tiebreaker to win, 10-6, and put the Aggies up, 5-1.
The No. 5 line also was decided by a super tiebreaker. Olivier was up, 5-3, in the first set against Natalia Guevara, but Guevara rallied to take the set, 7-5. Olivier managed to even the match by taking the second set 6-4 but then trailed 6-4 in the tiebreaker. Olivier fought back and tied the score at 8-8, but Guevara won the next two points to win the set and end the match.
“Winning fairly easy at No. 4 and No. 6 helped us out a lot,” Kleinecke said. “I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get the first set at No. 5, and having another 6-0 set at No. 3 singles is another disappointing thing, but other than that, I really felt like we laid it all out there. I feel really good about this match.”
The Aggies return to the courts Thursday to host former Southwest Conference-foe and 21st-ranked TCU. First serve is at 6 p.m. at the Mitchell Tennis Center. The match also marks the return of former Aggie standout Anna Lubinsky, who is in her first year as a volunteer assistant coach for the Frogs.
The match against TCU also will be A&M’s final tune-up before opening Big 12 Conference play against Texas in Austin, Saturday, March 7.
“TCU is going to be a tough team,” Kleinecke said. “This is one of the best teams that they have had, at least in the last four or five years. It is going to be interesting to see how they come in and how we handle that. It is going to be a fun match. I’m glad we are coming off of a win to play that TCU match. We’ll go out and give it everything we’ve got and hope we get a lot of people out and have another nice night like tonight.”
(30) Texas A&M 5, (68) South Florida 2
February 27, 2009
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
College Station, Texas
1. (102) Elzé Potgieter (A&M) def. Irene Regberger (USF), 6-4, 5-7, 1-0 (6)
2. Morgan Frank (A&M) def. Jessica Sweeting (USF), 6-0, 7-5
3. Iciri Rai (USF) def. Janelle Cuthbertson (A&M), 3-6, 6-0, 1-0 (9)
4. Christi Liles (A&M) def. Allyn Mueller (USF), 6-2, 6-1
5. Natalia Guevara (USF) def. Sheri Olivier (A&M), 7-5, 4-6, 1-0 (8)
6. Ashley Turpin (A&M) def. Lauren Shumate (USF), 6-3, 6-3
Doubles (A&M wins the point)
1. Cuthbertson/Stephanie Davidson (A&M) def. Regberger/Shumate (USF), 8-5
2. Frank/Liles (A&M) def. Rai/Jessica Zok (USF), 8-2
3. Olivier/Potgieter (A&M) def. Mueller/Sweeting (USF), 8-2
Order of finish
Doubles: 2, 3, 1
Singles: 4, 2, 6*, 3, 1, 5
Texas A&M: 4-4
South Florida: 1-6
2009 NCAA Tennis Championships: Texas A&M will host the 2009 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships, May 14-25, at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station, Texas. Tickets can be purchased online at 12ManFoundation.com or by calling 1-888-99-AGGIE.