COLLEGE STATION, Texas – For only the second time in school history, No. 3 Texas A&M will advance to the round of 16 of the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship after defeating 29th-ranked TCU, 4-1, in the second round today at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
The No. 3-seed Aggies (23-3), who also advanced to the round of 16 in 2004, will take on No. 14-seed Virginia (19-9), Friday at 4 p.m. at the University of Illinois’ Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex at the Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana, Ill. The Cavaliers, who have lost to Texas A&M twice this season, posted a dramatic victory against Texas, winning a tiebreaker in the last match standing to advance.
A&M, having won the last three regular-season meetings against the Horned Frogs, entered the match tied with TCU (18-7), 1-1, in NCAA tournament matches. The Aggies gained the early momentum in today’s match-up with two easy wins to capture the doubles point.
The 49th-ranked senior tandem of Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Sun Wen gave the Aggies the edge in the race for the doubles point, winning their first six games en route to an 8-1 victory over TCU’s Federica Denti and Kelsey Sundaram at the No. 2 line.
Freshmen twins Ines and Paula Deheza clinched the point for the Aggies and ran their winning streak to seven with a win at the No. 3 line. They were tied, 2-2, with Monika Sirilova and Stefanie Tan before reeling off six consecutive games to close out the 8-2 victory that gave A&M a 1-0 lead.
A&M’s 18th-ranked team of Stefania Hristov and Cristina Stancu held a 6-3 lead over 53rd-ranked Millie Nichols and Olivia Smith when the point was clinched and play was stopped.
Singles began with A&M quickly notching straight-set victories at the Nos. 3 and 4 courts to take a 3-0 lead. Senior Nazari Urbina, ranked No. 52, posted her 98th career victory with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over 122nd-ranked Smith at the No. 3 line to put the Aggies ahead, 2-0.
Ines Deheza won four consecutive games to close out a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Sundaram at No. 4 to give the Aggies a 3-0 lead.
Despite the deficit, TCU began gaining the momentum. Sirilova put the Horned Frogs on the board and cut the margin to 3-1 with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Sun at the No. 5 line. TCU also won first sets on courts 1, 2 and Denti had built a 5-0 first set lead over Hristov at the No. 6 line.
Never one to be counted out, Hristov charged back, winning the next five games to tie the set at 5-5. Denti took a 6-5 lead, but Hristov fought off five set points to tie the frame at 6-6 and force a tiebreaker. Hristov won the first three points in the tiebreaker and went on to win, 7-4, to take the set.
Hristov didn’t drop a game in the second set to complete the 7-6 (4), 6-0 victory to clinch the winning point and send the Aggies to the Illinois and the round of 16.
Sanchez-Quintanar, ranked No. 4, had lost her first set, 6-4, to 44th-ranked Tan at the No. 1 court and the score was tied, 5-5, in the second set when Hristov clinched the match. Also 68th-ranked Stancu had struggled at No. 2, playing through an ankle injury suffered early in the first set. Stancu was leading Simona Parajova, 3-2, in the opening frame before suffering the injury. Although Stancu went on to win the game to take a 4-2 lead, Parajova took advantage of the situation and came back to win the set, 7-5. Stancu then won the second set, 6-0, to force a third set and was leading 3-2 when play was stopped.
Aggie fans can keep up to date on 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
Texas A&M Head Coach Howard Joffe
“The doubles, just in terms of the flow of play, was definitely a lot more one-sided than I had expected. In the singles, things started to get squirrelier. [Cristina] Stancu rolled her ankle when she was up a little in the first set, and [Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar], who is a regular performer, was up in the first set and then down. So, it didn’t look good for a while. At No. 6 Stefania [Hristov] was 5-0 down. So it definitely sort of asked them some questions of the character of the team, but when the match was stopped, other than of course the one loss with [Wen Sun] and [Stancu] was leading in the third set and Sanchez was up in the second set, maybe close to splitting. So it does speak to the character, but it was certainly closer than one would have thought.”
(On Hristov’s come-from-behind win)
“Anyone who has seen Hristov or has just seen the results over the semester would know that she’s got a really big heart. I think when she started the match, she was probably a little bit off-balance upstairs. These kids are 18 years old and there’s life stuff and so forth. I don’t know that the 5-0 deficit indicated the flow of the play, but definitely Stefania was quite off-balance and negative. The fact that an 18-year-old can pick herself up in what really is the most stressful match of the season and work her way back was rather phenomenal and speaks to what a great kid Stefania is.”
(On what he said to get Hristov back in the game)
“As a coach, or as a jockey, there are two ways to go. One is to be gentle, so in the beginning of the match with Stefania I was trying to talk her through it – why she was a little off-balance. That probably was good and soothing for her but didn’t get her going. I did sort of tell her that we absolutely need her and that she needs to ante up, and she responded. Credit to her because it made the match go awfully quick once she won that set.”
(On the doubles matches)
“One thing that I really do feel is that our doubles have come on as the semester has gone. Our No. 1 doubles have probably been our most stable team in terms of always performing at a high level, but at No. 2, [Sanchez-Quintanar] and Sun the last part of the semester have really started to play much better. And Paula Deheza has really gotten a lot stronger and more physical and it’s evidenced in the play. She’s starting to help Ines [Deheza] really get after it.”
(On what is ahead)
“This game, all the games, all of our 19 sports at A&M are performance-based. We may look like a favorite on paper, or not. It’s who plays better tennis on the day, and we’ll need to be mindful of it and prepared.”
(On Cristina Stancu’s ankle)
“Not only do I worry about Cristina’s ankle, I worry about which way the wind is blowing every day. Absolutely I worry about Cristina’s ankle, but the fact that she could finish the match, or keep going for another hour, does indicate to me that it’s playable. One thing that Stancu is: she’s one tough young lady. I don’t expect it will stop her from playing. At this stage of the season, these young ladies have played so much tennis and in college tennis it’s all on these hard, hard courts which take a lot of pounding on the legs and the body. It’s not surprising that there were four injury timeouts amongst all the matches.”
(On Nazari Urbina’s win for the 2-0 lead)
“I really feel like our team is starting to play very, very well. In one or two cases, that might not have been the case today, but Nazari is at this moment playing as well as anyone in the country. So it’s not shocking what she did, and at No. 4, Ines Deheza’s match was equally as quick and convincing. Those are things that I certainly take a lot of hope in as we move forward to Illinois, because we’ve got some folks who are starting to play awfully well.”
A&M Freshman Stefania Hristov
“It was really tough because I was down 0-5, and then I remembered the match with Alabama when I was still down and couldn’t come back. This was kind of frustrating. Then Coach Joffe came to me and told me, ‘Hristov, you have to man up.’ Then I just started building game after game after game. I got to 5-all and then 6-5 for her, five set points for her, and then I said, ‘I have to fight because I have to help my team and we need this victory.’ So this kind of motivated me, so I won the first set and then it was pretty easy to win the match.”
(On whether winning the first set took her opponent out of the match mentally)
“Yeah, I think that she was down mentally and physically because I had a good start in the second set and I saw after it was 2-0 for me and then 3-0, she asked for a medical and she started cramping. She had an injury to her left hand, so that was an advantage for me because her backhand had started to become weaker. So yes, she was down mentally and physically.”
(On when in the first set she saw that she could win)
“It was 4-0, and I said I have to come back and bring myself back into the match. At 5-0, Coach Joffe came and talked to me and gave me an impulse and I started playing. I knew if I set up my mind just to win the set, I’m not going to win the set. I have to play game after game after game. That’s why I came back and won.”
(On whether Coach Joffe told her how the rest of the team’s match was going)
“No, he didn’t. Basically his words were to man up and start playing better because I’m for sure going to win the match if I’m more positive. I started the match a little bit negative, so that cost me a lot.”
(On fighting through five set points in the first set)
“It was really strange because every time when it was deuce, I was either double faulting or making a mistake, and then when she had a set point, I was really working for that point. It was a little strange, but I made it through.”
(On whether she knows during her match what is happening on other courts)
“First set when I was down 4-0, I saw [Cristina Stancu] fall on the court. I was a little afraid because the match was getting tight, so I said, ‘I have to really work on my game and get back to the game and be more positive for my team.’”
TCU Head Coach Dave Borelli
“That was tough. A&M is a tough team. We played pretty poorly in the doubles but I was pleased with how we played in the singles. But when you win the first set in three of the matches and go 5-0 in another, and you can’t take advantage of it, it’s really a tough one to deal with. A lot of it has to do with A&M fighting back, more than maybe us. I’m pleased. I’m sorry for the seniors, but the good thing is that the kids that were still in the thick of the matches are coming back next year, and we’ve got a really good recruiting class. We’re just going to build from this and try to extend it to our goal next year to get beyond this point. A&M is a great team and I wish them the best.”
No. 3 Texas A&M 4, No. 29 TCU 1
NCAA Championship, Second Round
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
May 12, 2013
1. #4 Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar (TAMU) vs. #44 Stefanie Tan (TCU), 4-6, 5-5 unfinished
2. #68 Cristina Stancu (TAMU) vs. Simona Parajova (TCU), 5-7, 6-0, 3-2 unfinished
3. #52 Nazari Urbina (TAMU) def. #122 Olivia Smith (TCU), 6-3, 6-0
4. Ines Deheza (TAMU) def. Kelsey Sundaram (TCU), 6-1, 6-2
5. Monika Sirilova (TCU) def. Wen Sun (TAMU), 6-4, 6-0
6. Stefania Hristov (TAMU) def. Federica Denti (TCU), 7-6 (4), 6-0
Doubles (Texas A&M wins the point)
1. #18 Hristov/Stancu (TAMU) vs. #53 Millie Nichols/Smith (TCU), 6-3 unfinished
2. #49 Sanchez-Quintanar/Sun (TAMU) def. Denti/Sundaram (TCU), 8-1
3. I. Deheza/Paula Deheza (TAMU) def. Sirilova/Tan (TCU), 8-2
Order of finish
Doubles: 2, 3
Singles: 3, 4, 5, 6
Texas A&M: 23-3