The Aggies aim to break the record and will put their undefeated conference record on the line on Easter Sunday in a top-five showdown against No. 5 Georgia. First serve is at 11 a.m. at the Mitchell Tennis Center.
A&M, 15-1 overall, got easy wins against the Lady Vols at Nos. 2 and 3 doubles to clinch the point and take the early lead. The 72nd-ranked duo of Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Wen Sun won seven consecutive games to close out an 8-1 victory over Joanna Henderson and Caitlyn Williams at the No. 2 line.
At the No. 3 line, Aggie twins Ines and Paula Deheza lost their first two games against Tiffany Tavares and Sarah Toti but then reeled off eight consecutive games for the 8-2 victory, giving Texas A&M a 1-0 lead.
The feature top-10 doubles match-up of the night went unfinished as Tennessee’s third-ranked tandem of Brynn Boren and Kata Szekely had won four straight games to take a 5-4 lead over A&M’s seventh-ranked pair of Stefania Hristov and Cristina Stancu at the No. 1 line when the doubles point was decided and play was stopped.
“Tennessee is a team that is coming on really strong, and so I really consider this to be a good win for us,” A&M head coach Howard Joffe said. “We won the doubles point fairly handily, and yet it took a couple of hours and everything we had to get over the finish line today. I was really proud of our girls, and a lot of credit to the coaches at Tennessee and the Tennessee players. On the road, down the doubles point, they hung in there, and that match could have gone either way, no question.”
A&M went on to build a 2-0 lead at the start of singles as Hristov sprinted to a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Jesse Grace at the No. 6 line. It was the sixth consecutive win for the freshman from Romania, who improved to 9-0 at the No. 6 court and 13-3 in dual matches.
“(Hristov) is definitely in my view a better player than the girl she played, but she actually surpassed what I thought,” Joffe said. “I didn’t think she is 6-0, 6-0 better. She played really well. She was very, very focused and that helps. And that also hints at the depth of our team, because at No. 6, that match is over awful quick.”
Although A&M held a 2-0 lead, the momentum began to shift to Tennessee’s favor as the Lady Vols had first-set leads on four courts. Tavares went on to complete a 6-2, 6-0 win over Sun at the No. 5 line to put Tennessee on the board, and 38th-ranked Szekely immediately followed with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over No. 68 Stancu at the No. 2 court to even the score at 2-2.
“There is no question that one of the things that as a coach, you don’t want to have the players watch the scoreboard, and yet nothing I can say is going to prevent it,” Joffe said. “All of the kids are all keenly aware of the context of the match, so for Ines and Nazari, they were very well aware that we were tied at 2-2, and our fate somewhat rests on their shoulders.”
Urbina eventually put the Aggies ahead, 3-2, winning three consecutive games to break away for a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Williams at No. 3. With the win, Urbina improved to 8-0 in SEC matches, including 7-0 at the No. 3 line.
“I didn’t get to see a ton of (Urbina’s) match, but from what Coach (Mark) Weaver said, she played awful good tennis against a very fine player,” Joffe said. “I feel like based on what I heard, Nazari was always sort of going to win that match, but funny things happen under pressure.”
Ines Deheza then clinched the match for the Aggies, improving to 5-0 in SEC play after overcoming a 3-1 first-set deficit to win, 6-4, 6-3.
“I don’t know in the case of Ines that that was her best tennis, but she did an awful good job of fighting and hanging in there to get over the proverbial finish line,” Joffe added. “Ines was doing all the running, and the points were real long and back and forth. While it wasn’t Ines’ best tennis, it does reveal a lot about her character. She’s one tough, tough, cookie, so I was real proud of her.”
At No. 1 singles, the match was close to splitting sets as 21st-ranked Boren held off No. 5 Sanchez-Quintanar, 7-5, in the opening set, but Sanchez-Quintanar built a 4-1 lead in the second set when A&M captured the team win.
Tennessee’s loss ends a three-match win streak, and the Lady Vols fall to 8-7 overall and 5-3 in SEC play. They lead the all-time series against A&M, 6-3.
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No. 3 Texas A&M 4, No. 23 Tennessee 2
March 29, 2013
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
College Station, Texas
1. #5 Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar (TAMU) vs. #21 Brynn Boren (UT), 5-7, 4-1 unfinished
2. #38 Kata Szekely (UT) def. #68 Cristina Stancu (TAMU), 6-2, 6-2
3. #43 Nazari Urbina (TAMU) def. Caitlyn Williams (UT), 6-1, 6-3
4. Ines Deheza (TAMU) def. Joanna Henderson (UT), 6-4, 6-3
5. Tiffany Tavares (UT) def. Wen Sun (TAMU), 6-2, 6-0
6. Stefania Hristov (TAMU) def. Jesse Grace (UT), 6-0, 6-0
Doubles (Texas A&M wins the point)
1. #7 Hristov/Stancu (TAMU) vs. #3 Boren/Szekely (UT), 4-5 unfinished
2. #72 Sanchez-Quintanar/Sun (TAMU) def. Henderson/Williams (UT), 8-1
3. I. Deheza/Paula Deheza (TAMU) def. Tavares/Sarah Toti (UT), 8-2
Order of finish
Doubles: 2, 3
Singles: 6, 5, 2, 3, 4
Texas A&M: 15-1, 8-0 SEC
Tennessee: 8-7, 5-3 SEC