CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The 13th-ranked Texas A&M women's tennis team dropped the doubles point against rival Texas but rallied to defeat the 11th-ranked Longhorns, 4-2, in the consolation draw of the ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championship, hosted by the University of Virginia at the Boar's Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va.
"I don't know that we could have scripted a more painful loss of the doubles point," A&M head coach Howard Joffe said, "but our kids, all they did was come back and win five of the six first sets in singles and then four of the matches to clinch. It is a very, very big win in my view, and hopefully this will be a little bit of an emotional springboard as we move forward and get a little bit more experience with our team."
Doubles began with A&M's seventh-ranked tandem of Stefani Hristov and Cristina Stancu suffering its first loss of the season. The Longhorns' Breaunna Addison and Noel Scott went up a break at 2-0 and led the remainder of the way to win, 8-6, at the No. 1 line.
A&M had built early leads on the remaining two courts, but only Ines and Paula Deheza were able to hold on for the win. The Aggies' freshmen twins jumped out to a 4-0 lead at No. 3, but Texas' Lina Padegimaite and Annat Rabinovich got back on serve at 7-7 to force a tiebreaker. The Dehezas went on to win the tiebreaker, 7-4, to even the overall match. But just as the race for the crucial doubles point was tied up, Texas' Elizabeth Begley and Aeriel Ellis finished off Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Wen Sun, overcoming a 4-1 deficit en route to the 8-6 victory at the No. 2 line.
Despite the disappointing loss in doubles, the momentum quickly shifted in favor of the Aggies at the start of singles as A&M won first sets on five of six courts. Sanchez-Quintanar, ranked No. 3 in the nation, knotted the score as she was first off following a convincing 6-2, 6-2 victory over Ellis at the top of the lineup.
Hristov, a freshman from Romania, then gave the Aggies the lead, 2-1, as she finished off Lana Groenvynck, 6-3, 6-1, at the No. 6 line.
Begley knotted the score at 2-2 with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Ines Deheza at No. 4, and the tension grew as the remaining three courts were being tightly contested. Sun had won her first set against Padegimaite, 6-2, but the Longhorn raced to a 6-0 second-set win to force a third set at No. 5.
In a match that contained numerous long rallies and was much closer than the score indicated, Urbina put the Aggies ahead for good with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Addison at No. 3.
While Sun was up, 4-2, in the third set against Padegimaite, Stancu was engaged in a battle with 79th-ranked Scott at No. 2. Stancu, ranked No. 45, had gone up a break late in the first to win 6-4, but Scott came from behind to take a 6-5 second-set lead. The feisty Stancu tied the score at 6-all to force a tiebreaker and then won the first three points in the breaker. Scott tied the score at 4-4, but Stancu won the next two points to be at match point. Scott fought off one match point before Stancu clinched the victory.
"The reason the win is very big is that it happens to be early in the season, and in the grand scheme of things perhaps not the biggest deal, but for our group at the moment it is a very big deal," Joffe said. "I'm delighted for our group. We have two first-semester freshmen playing. We have had a number of awkward and difficult things happen in the last two or three weeks of school, and at a cognitive level, everyone knows -- including the coach -- that it is going to get better and our players are going to get better. That said, the cognitive side doesn't always jive with the feelings. I know that our group has been struggling feelings-wise, so to beat a team as good as Texas and to beat a team that at this moment is ranked higher than us, especially in the fashion that we did it, really revealed the high quality of character of our girls.
"I have a great deal of respect for the love and the hatred and the rivalry and so forth from what I know of it, but Texas has an awful good team and hopefully in the years to come, we'll play them many, many times. Certainly Texas as a state has some awful good tennis teams, and it definitely feels real good to beat at this moment the highest ranked team in Texas."
A&M, which concludes the tournament against host and 12th-ranked Virginia Sunday at 5:30 p.m. (CT), improves to 3-1, while Texas drops to 2-2.
Live scoring will be available at itatennis.com. Aggie fans also can keep up to date with the A&M women's tennis team on Twitter by following @AggieWTEN or on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Aggie-Womens-Tennis/143874782434654
No. 13 Texas A&M 4, No. 11 Texas 2
ITA National Team Indoors (Consolation)
February 9, 2013
Boar’s Head Sports Club
1. #3 Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar (TAMU) def. Aeriel Ellis (UT), 6-2, 6-2
2. #45 Cristina Stancu (TAMU) def. #79 Noel Scott (UT), 6-4, 7-6 (5)
3. Nazari Urbina (TAMU) def. Breaunna Addison (UT), 6-3, 6-3
4. Elizabeth Begley (UT) def. Ines Deheza (TAMU), 6-1, 6-1
5. #82 Wen Sun (TAMU) vs. Lina Padegimaite (UT), 6-2, 0-6, 4-2 unfinished
6. Stefania Hristov (TAMU) def. Lana Groenvynck (UT), 6-3, 6-1
Doubles (Texas wins the point)
1. Addison/Scott (UT) def. #7 Hristov/Stancu (TAMU), 8-6
2. Begley/Ellis (UT) def. Sanchez-Quintanar/Sun (TAMU), 8-6
3. I. Deheza/Paula Deheza (TAMU) def. Padegimaite/Annat Rabinovich (UT), 8-7 (4)
Order of finish
Doubles: 1, 3, 2
Singles: 1, 6, 4, 3, 2
Texas A&M: 3-1