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Texas A&M Set To Face LSU In NCAA First Round

May 10, 2012
Courtesy: Michigan Media Relations
(photo: Michigan Media Relations)

The 19th-ranked Texas A&M women's tennis team earned its 13th consecutive and 18th overall bid to the NCAA Women's Tennis Championship and will face soon-to-be conference opponent LSU of the Southeastern Conference in the first round Friday, May 11 at 10 a.m. (9 a.m. Central) at the Varsity Tennis Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The winner between A&M, a 17-32 seed, and LSU, a 33-48 seed, advances to the second round to face the winner between host and No. 15-seed Michigan and Illinois-Chicago on Saturday at 1 p.m. (noon Central) in Ann Arbor. The second-round winner advances to the 16-team NCAA Championship to be played at the University of Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., May 17-22.

Live scoring of the matches will be available at

(Varsity Tennis Center, Ann Arbor, Mich.)

Friday, May 11
No. 19 Texas A&M (18-5) vs. No. 43 LSU (11-12), 10 a.m. (9 a.m. CT)
No. 15 Michigan (17-6) vs. Illinois-Chicago (18-3), 1 p.m. (noon CT)

Saturday, May 12
No. 15 Michigan/UIC winner vs. No. 19 Texas A&M/No. 45 LSU winner, 1 p.m. (noon CT)

The Aggies, who defeated the Tigers, 5-2, in Baton Rouge, La., in the third match of the season, are 18-5 and have won five of their last six matches. A&M, which will join the SEC on July 1, upset No. 12 Baylor to reach the finals of the Big 12 Championship for the first time since 2004 but fell to 13th-ranked Texas, 4-2, in the finals.

No. 43 LSU is 11-12 after falling to Arkansas in the first round of the SEC Tournament.

Michigan, the Big Ten Conference regular season champion, is 17-6 after losing to Purdue, 4-3, in the championship match of the Big Ten Tournament. The 15th-ranked Wolverines are making their 11th consecutive NCAA appearance and have advanced to the Round of 16 each of the last two years.

UIC is 18-3 and received an automatic bid after winning its 16th consecutive Horizon League regular season title. The Flames, a 49-64 seed, are making their 14th consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.

A&M is 22-10 against LSU, including a 5-2 win in Baton Rouge, La., on Feb. 5 in the third match of the 2012 season. It was the Aggies' third consecutive win against the Tigers and their seventh out the last eight meetings. A&M swept the doubles competition and got wins at the top four lines in singles. LSU's last win against A&M was in 2009. The teams are 1-1 when facing in the NCAA tournament. In 1997, LSU defeated A&M, 5-0, in the second round at Rice University in Houston. The teams also met in the first round of the 2003 tournament with the host Aggies posting a 4-0 victory over the Tigers in College Station.

A&M holds a 2-1 lead in the all-time series against Michigan. All three matches were played in Ann Arbor. The teams were slated to play on March 9 in College Station, but the match could not be played because of continuous rain throughout the weekend. In the most recent meeting, the Wolverines notched a 6-1 victory in 2009.

A&M and Illinois-Chicago have never met.

A&M is 6-5 against the 64-team tournament field this season. Two of the wins were against top-16 tournament seeds -- No. 11 Texas and No. 12 Baylor -- and the other four wins were against teams seeded 33-48: Rice, Oklahoma State, TCU and LSU. Three of the five losses were against top-16 seeds: No. 11 Texas, No. 12 Baylor and No. 16 Ole Miss. The other losses were to 17-32 seeds Notre Dame and Texas Tech.

In last year's NCAA tournament, A&M suffered a 4-3 first-round loss to SMU in College Station. It was the Aggies' third consecutive first-round loss after posting a streak of six consecutive appearances in at least the second round of the tournament...A&M, 11-17 all-time in NCAA tournament play, had it best postseason finish in 2004 after advancing to the Round of 16.

By defeating Kansas State, 4-0, and upsetting 12th-ranked Baylor, 4-3, Texas A&M reached the finals at the Big 12 Tennis Championship for the first time since 2004, but the No. 3 seed Aggies were unable to capture their second-ever tournament title as they fell to No. 4 seed Texas, 4-2, on April 29 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station. In 2004, A&M upset the rival Longhorns to win its only Big 12 tournament championship, but in the most recent meeting Texas (17-7) won the crucial doubles point and went on to post three wins at the bottom of the singles lineup to capture its eighth tournament trophy and earn the league's automatic bid to the 64-team NCAA Championship.

Aggie first-year head coach Howard Joffe has rejuvenated a team that is now experiencing its greatest success in recent years. Joffe, who came to A&M in July 2011 after two-year head coaching stints at both Miami (Ohio) and Maryland, led the Aggies on a school record-setting 13-match winning streak earlier this season and has directed the team to an 18-5 record, A&M's most wins since going 21-7 in 2007. He also coached A&M to the finals of the 2012 Big 12 Championship, the first time the Aggies reached the finals since 2004. In addition, the Aggies' No. 15 ranking on March 6 was the program's highest national ranking since a No. 14 listing on March 24, 2007. Joffe enters the NCAA tournament with a 66-43 record in his five-year career as a head coach.

Joffe played college tennis at Pepperdine from 1990-92 and led the Wave to three consecutive West Coast Conference titles. He was an ITA All-American in 1992, the same year he was the 1992 WCC singles champion and reached the semifinals of the NCAA Singles Championship. After three years (1992-94) on the professional tour, Joffe began his coaching career in South Africa. In 2002, he was hired as the women's assistant coach at perennial power USC, where he finished his bachelor's degree in psychology in 2006. The two-time ITA West Region Assistant Coach of the Year and a runner-up for the 2006 national award, Joffe left USC in 2007 to be the head coach at Miami (Ohio). In his second season, Joffe was named the Mid American Conference Coach of the Year after leading the RedHawks to a 16-7 record and an appearance in the NCAA tournament. He then left to become the head coach at Maryland, where he led the Terrapins to an NCAA tournament berth in 2011.

Texas A&M is No. 19 in the latest ITA team rankings, released May 8. The Aggies reached their highest ranking of the season, as well as the program's highest ranking in since 2007, on March 6 when they came in at No. 15. Individually, junior Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar, who came to A&M with Joffe after playing one year at Maryland, became the highest ranked singles player in Texas A&M history when she was ranked No. 4 on Feb. 28. Sanchez-Quintanar, who has been in the top 15 all spring, enters the NCAA tournament ranked No. 6...Junior Nazari Urbina has worked her way up to a No. 53 ranking after being list No. 105 in the January preseason ranking...Junior Wen Sun has been ranked in singles every week during the spring and enters the postseason with a No. 78 ranking...In doubles, Sanchez-Quintanar and Sun jumped into the doubles rankings at No. 50 on April 17 and are now a season-high No. 29 entering the NCAAs.

With a 35-5 overall singles record, Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar has won 87.5 percent of her matches, a mark that would establish an A&M record for highest winning percentage in a single season. The record currently stands at .861, set by Ashley Hedberg who went 31-5 in 2001-02. Sanchez-Quintanar's 35 wins ranks third in the A&M records for most wins. She is one win shy of tying Anna Lubinsky, who moved into second place in 2003-04. Former Aggie All-American Kim Labuschagne holds down the No. 1 spot with 42 wins in 1986-87.

Senior Sheri Olivier has 84 career doubles victories and needs two more wins to tie Gaye Lynne Gensler (1984-88) for 10th place in the career records for most doubles victories.

Texas A&M enters the NCAAs having won five of its last six matches...The Aggies are 12-5 against ranked opponents, including a 4-3 victory against No. 6 Texas, marking A&M's highest ranked win since defeating No. 5 USC in 2004...A&M is 1-1 at neutral sites and 8-1 at away matches...After losing its season opener against Ole Miss in the first round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, the Aggies reeled off a school-record 13-match winning streak, obliterating the previous record of nine consecutive wins that had stood since 1986...A&M is 18-1 when winning the doubles point, 11-0 when No. 5 singles wins and 8-0 when No. 6 singles wins...The Aggies are a combined 57-9 at the No. 1, 2 and 3 singles lines...A&M is a combined 48-19 at the three doubles lines...A&M has two seniors who are concluding their Aggie careers: Sheri Olivier and Lauren Santacroce.

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