COLLEGE STATION, Texas – After playing five consecutive Southeastern Conference road matches, the third-ranked Texas A&M women's tennis team returns home to the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center this weekend for a pair of challenging matches against top-25 opponents.
Texas A&M (14-1, 7-0 SEC), atop the SEC standings with the only unblemished record in conference play, hosts No. 23 Tennessee Friday at 6 p.m. and closes out the weekend with a pivotal match against fifth-ranked Georgia, Sunday at 11 a.m.
“With the arrival of Tennessee and Georgia, the Aggies will be tested enormously,” A&M head coach Howard Joffe said. “Both teams are playing awful good tennis and will be hungry to chase after us since we are currently leading the SEC. As always our ladies will compete hard and not shortchange the supporters or themselves on the effort. It promises to be an exciting weekend of tennis.”
The Aggies are 6-0 in home matches, including a victory against two-time defending national champion and then-No. 4 Florida earlier this month. A&M enters the Tennessee match riding a 12-match winning streak, one win shy of tying the school record set last year in Joffe’s first season at the helm of the Aggies.
Tennessee, 8-6 overall and 5-2 in the SEC, is on a three-match win streak, having defeated Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Prairie View A&M. Georgia, 13-2 overall and 6-1 in SEC play, also is riding a three-match win streak entering a match at Missouri on Friday. The Bulldogs’ only conference loss was at Florida on March 15 and their only non-conference loss was against No. 2 UCLA at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship.
The matches this weekend will feature three doubles teams ranked in the top seven in the nation. A&M’s seventh-ranked duo of Stefania Hristov and Cristina Stancu, have their work cut out for them as they are likely to face third-ranked Brynn Boren and Kata Szekely of Tennessee and fourth-ranked Kate Fuller and Silvia Garcia of Georgia.
Stancu and Hristov are 17-5 overall, including 8-2 in dual matches at the No. 1 court. They are 3-0 in SEC matches, and they enter the Tennessee contest riding a four-match win streak.
Senior All-American and fifth-ranked Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar highlights the Aggies in singles play with a 31-5 overall record, including a 12-2 mark in dual matches, as well as a 19-3 ledger against ranked opponents.
Nazari Urbina, ranked 55th, is undefeated in conference matches, having gone 7-0 at the No. 3 line and 1-0 at No. 2. The senior is fifth in the A&M record books with 94 career singles victories and needs one more win to move into a tie for fourth place with Monica Rebolledo (1995-98).
No. 68-ranked Stancu rounds out A&M’s ranked singles players. The junior is 9-3 in dual matches at the No. 2 line, including 5-2 in SEC matches.
Hristov is tied with Sanchez-Quintanar for most singles wins in dual match play with a 12-3 mark, having seen action at both No. 5 and No. 6, where she is 8-0 overall. Hristov and freshman Ines Deheza, 4-0 in SEC play at Nos. 3 and 4 singles, are riding five-match winning streaks to lead the Aggies.
Deheza and sister Paula Deheza also have been key to the Aggies’ success in doubles with a 7-3 mark at the No. 3 line and a 5-1 record in conference contests. A&M is 8-0 overall when winning at No. 3 doubles and 10-0 when taking the doubles point.
In addition to their highly-ranked doubles teams, Tennessee and Georgia both boast nationally ranked singles players. Boren and Szekely are ranked No. 21 and No. 38, respectively, to lead the Lady Vols, and Georgia’s Lauren Herring, the 2012 SEC Freshman of the Year, is No. 8 in singles. In addition, the Bulldogs’ Maho Kowase is No. 18, and Garcia is No. 86.
The Aggies and Lady Vols first met in 1989 and played annually through 1996. The teams have not met since that eight-year series ended, with Tennessee defeating A&M, 5-4, in College Station in 1996 to build a 6-2 lead in the all-time series.
A&M will be aiming for its first victory against the Bulldogs, who are 7-0 in the all-time series. The teams last met in 2008 with then-No. 6 Georgia defeating A&M, 6-1, at the Mitchell Tennis Center.
Free live video and scoring of this weekend’s matches will be available at AggieAthletics.com.
Visit AggieAthletics.com for more information on Texas A&M women’s tennis. 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