COLLEGE STATION, Texas – In a battle between in-state rivals and former Southwest Conference foes, No. 26 TCU won a third-set tiebreaker in the last match standing to edge No. 24 Texas A&M, 4-3, in front of 525 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
“This is a tough loss,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “It is a match where I felt like we had an excellent opportunity to come away with a win.”
With the win, the Horned Frogs snap a three-match losing skid and even their record at 5-5. A&M falls to 4-5.
TCU took an early lead by winning two of three doubles matches. Sheri Olivier and Elzé Potgieter picked up the only doubles win for the Aggies, easily defeating Maria Babanova and Gaby Mastromarino, 8-2 at the No. 3 line to improve to 6-1 in dual matches.
TCU’s 21st-ranked duo of Macall Harkins and Anna Sydorska followed with an 8-2 victory against Janelle Cuthbertson and Stephanie Davidson at the No. 1 line. Kayla Duncan and Katariina Tuohimaa then clinched the point for the Frogs, winning four consecutive games to close out an 8-4 victory over A&M’s Morgan Frank and Christi Liles at No. 2.
“I think the difference in the match was the doubles,” Kleinecke said. “I just didn’t feel like we competed well in doubles. As we got down to the end of it, I think that is what cost us this match and added the extra pressure in the singles.”
A&M freshman Lauren Santacroce quickly evened the score at 1-1, winning her first eight games against en route to a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Idunn Hertzberg at No. 5 singles. Tuohimaa regained the lead for the Frogs with a straight-set victory over Cuthbertson at the No. 3 line, but Liles tied the score again with a 6-0, 2-6, 7-5 win against Mastromarino at No. 4 singles.
A&M took its first lead of the match at 3-2 when Potgieter notched her second victory over a ranked opponent in a dual match this season, coming from behind to defeat 89th-ranked Harkins, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“Elzé did a good job and gave us more life in the match,” Kleinecke said. “She has really stepped up, and I feel like the big differences that she has made in the season so far are that she has been a lot more vocal and a lot more feisty and is able to fight through those matches.”
Frank won her first set against Duncan at the No. 2 line but became ill in the second set and lost 6-4. Frank continued to struggle throughout the remainder of the match, and Duncan won the third set, 6-1, to tie the score at 3-3 and force the match to be determined at the No. 6 line.
Every set at No. 6 line was decided by a tiebreaker. Aggie freshman Ashley Turpin, playing in only her second dual match, let a 5-2 lead slip away in the opening set as Maria Babanova won four consecutive games to take a 6-5 lead. Turpin broke serve to even the set at 6-6 and force a tiebreaker, but Babanova cruised to a 7-1 win to take the first set.
It was Turpin who came from behind to win the second set, overcoming a 4-2 deficit to eventually take a 6-5 lead. Babanova won the ensuing game to force another tiebreaker. Turpin took her first lead of the tiebreaker at 3-2 and never trailed to win 7-5 and take the second set.
Babanova had match point at 5-3 in the final set, but Turpin rallied back to tie the set at 5-5. The players held serve in the next two games to force the third tiebreaker of the match. Babanova jumped out to a 4-1 lead, and Turpin was unable to get closer than two points before Babanova won, 7-4.
“Ashley fought hard in the end, but we let a 5-2 lead in the first set slip away,” Kleinecke said. “We had an easy first set at No. 4 and then gave away an easy set in the second set. I think we’ve just got to do better with managing our leads and keeping the momentum of the match going our way.”
The match against the Frogs was A&M’s final tune-up for Big 12 Conference play, which begins Saturday against No. 38 Texas in Austin. Match time against the Longhorns is 12 p.m. at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center, and a full point will be at stake in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown.
“We don’t have long to get over this (loss),” Kleinecke said. “We’ll head out and play Texas in our first conference match on Saturday. That is the next part of the season, so we’ve got to use everything we’ve learned throughout the season so far and be ready to compete on Saturday.”
Live scoring of A&M women’s tennis matches is available at AggieAthletics.com.
(26) TCU 4, (24) Texas A&M 3
March 5, 2009
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
College Station, Texas
1. Elzé Potgieter (A&M) def. (89) Macall Harkins (TCU), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
2. Kayla Duncan (TCU) def. (98) Morgan Frank (A&M), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
3. Katariina Tuohimaa (TCU) def. Janelle Cuthbertson (A&M), 6-3, 6-2
4. Christi Liles (A&M) def. Gaby Mastromarino (TCU), 6-0, 2-6, 7-5
5. Lauren Santacroce (A&M) def. Idunn Hertzberg (TCU), 6-0, 6-2
6. Maria Babanova (TCU) def. Ashley Turpin (A&M), 7-6 (1), 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4)
Doubles (TCU wins the point)
1. (21) Macall Harkins/Anna Sydorska (TCU) def. Cuthbertson/Stephanie Davidson (A&M), 8-2
2. Kayla Duncan/Katariina Tuohimaa (TCU) def. Frank/Liles (A&M), 8-4
3. Sheri Olivier/Potgieter (A&M) def. Maria Babanova/Gaby Mastromarino (TCU), 8-2
Order of finish
Doubles: 3, 1, 2
Singles: 5, 3, 4, 1, 2, 6*
Texas A&M: 4-5
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.