The Aggies improve to 8-1 and move within one win of tying the school record for consecutive victories set in 1986, before any of the current players were born. A&M will have a shot at matching the record on Tuesday when the Aggies play host to William & Mary at 6 p.m. at the Mitchell Tennis Center.
"I'm just so excited for our kids because it is so hard to believe that we actually won eight straight when you consider four or five months ago the significant injuries to many of the kids who are out their playing," A&M first-year head coach Howard Joffe said. "It's just truly overall a good testament to the kids' character. They are working really hard. It is truthfully a pleasure to coach them, and I'm pleased that they are getting rewarded. Life is not always like that. Hard work I suppose in the long run pays off, but certainly fortune is shining on us at the moment."
A&M never trailed in any of the three doubles matches on its way to posting its fourth doubles sweep of the season and logging its eighth consecutive doubles point. Janelle Cuthbertson and Nazari Urbina won their sixth straight doubles contest to give the Aggies an early edge, reeling off five consecutive games to break away from a 3-3 tie and defeat Fanny Fracassi and Lucie Rey, 8-3, at the No. 2 line.
Sheri Olivier and Lauren Santacroce then clinched the doubles point for A&M and improved to 7-1 at the No. 3 line with an 8-5 victory over Danielle Mills and Paula Montoya. Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Wen Sun then saddled Loreto Alonso Martinez and Ecaterina Vasenina with an 8-5 loss at the No. 1 line to complete the sweep.
"Our kids have worked very, very hard on the doubles," Joffe said. "The partnerships are gelling really well, and I'm so proud of Santacroce and Olivier because the sum of the two of them is greater than the parts. As a team, they are really giving us a great boost."
Cuthbertson quickly gave A&M a 2-0 lead at the start of singles, winning her first seven games against Rey en route to a 6-0, 6-1 victory at the No. 5 line.
In a match-up of ranked opponents, fourth-ranked Sanchez-Quintanar put the Aggies ahead, 3-0, and improved to 9-0 in the spring season with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over No. 43 Vasenina at the No. 1 line. Urbina then clinched the win, holding off Mills in the second set to post a 6-1, 7-5 straight-set victory at No. 2 singles.
Fracassi put the Bulls on the scoreboard with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Santacroce at the No. 4 line, but Sun countered and won her fourth consecutive match with a 7-6 (1), 6-1 victory over Alonso Martinez at No. 3.
Montoya carded USF's only other point, closing out the match with a 7-6 (1), 1-6, 1-0 (5) victory over Erasmus at the No. 6 line.
The Bulls, the highest ranked team A&M has faced this season, fall to 7-4 after having their three-match winning steak snapped.
"Today it was very much that the momentum and the match-ups favored us," Joffe said. "It did sort of seem a little bit easier than expected, but they are a well-coached team and fight really hard. It sort of seemed easy but it started to get a little close. Nazari had a few chances to close out her match and clinch the entire match, and the kid hung in there really well. It is very nice that we can beat a team that good fairly comfortably."
A&M concludes a four-match home stand with a pair of matches next week. Following the match against William & Mary on Tuesday, the Aggies will play their final tune-up for Big 12 Conference play as they battle 14th-ranked Michigan. Both matches begin at 6 p.m. at the Mitchell Tennis Center.
A&M, which has been picked to tie for third in the Big 12 according to a preseason vote of the league coaches, embarks on its final Big 12 tour March 16 at Missouri.
Season tickets and individual tickets to home matches can be purchased in advance online at AggieAthletics.com or by calling the Athletic Ticket Office at 1-888-99-AGGIE. Tickets also can be purchased at the entrance to the tennis center begin one hour before the start of the match.
No. 23 Texas A&M 5, No. 26 South Florida 2
March 2, 2012
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
College Station, Texas
1. (#4) Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar (TAMU) def. (#43) Ecaterina Vasenina (USF), 6-1, 6-4
2. (#114) Nazari Urbina (TAMU) def. Danielle Mills (USF), 6-1, 7-5
3. (#86) Wen Sun (TAMU) def. Loreto Alonso Martinez (USF), 7-6 (1), 6-1
4. Fanny Fracassi (USF) def. Lauren Santacroce (TAMU), 7-5, 6-2
5. Janelle Cuthbertson (TAMU) def. Lucie Rey (USF), 6-0, 6-1
6. Paula Montoya (USF) def. Janine Erasmus (TAMU), 7-6 (1), 1-6, 1-0 (5)
Doubles (A&M wins the point)
1. Sanchez-Quintanar/Sun (TAMU) def. Alonso Martinez/Vasenina (USF), 8-5
2. Cuthbertson/Urbina (TAMU) def. Fracassi/Rey (USF), 8-3
3. Sheri Olivier/Santacroce (TAMU) def. Mills/Montoya (USF), 8-5
Order of finish
Doubles: 2, 3, 1
Singles: 5, 1, 2*, 4, 3, 6
* - Clinched match
Texas A&M: 8-1
South Florida: 7-4