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Aggies Rally Past Rebels, 4-3

April 11, 2014
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The 10th-ranked Texas A&M women’s tennis team improved to 10-0 in home matches after the Aggies won the last match standing to complete a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over 29th-ranked Ole Miss at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. The victory pushes the Aggies to 16-5 overall and 9-3 in Southeastern Conference play, while the Rebels fall to 12-9 and 5-7 in league action.

“You have to give Ole Miss a lot of credit for how much passion they played with throughout the night, particularly in doubles,” Texas A&M head coach Howard Joffe said. “They played with a good amount of skill as well. I really don’t feel like our kids did a bad job. That’s what I told them. None of them did a bad job. Life posed up the question of how much we wanted to battle, and our freshmen answered the call.”

For the first time this season, the Aggies were unable to claim the doubles point in a home match, falling on courts two and three. The A&M duo of Rutuja Bhosale and Anna Mamalat dropped an 8-4 decision to Marija Milutinovic and Caroline Rohde-Moe at the No. 2 doubles line.

Needing victories on the remaining doubles courts, the Aggies forced tiebreakers in each match, but the late rally by the Rebels’ 74th-ranked duo of Julia Jones and Zalina Khairudinova proved too much for Saska Gavrilovska and Jana McCord to overcome in their 8-7 (8) setback on the No. 3 doubles line.

A&M’s 23rd-ranked tandem of Stefania Hristov and Cristina Stancu was at match point in a tiebreaker against Erin Stephens and Iris Verboven when the doubles point was clinched, and the match went unfinished.

Stancu wasted no time in evening the match at 1-1 at the start of singles play. The ITA’s eighth-ranked player picked up her 11th consecutive victory and improved to 8-0 in SEC play with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Rohde-Moe at the top singles position.

Ole Miss jumped back ahead, 2-1, with a victory at the No. 4 line, where Mai El Kamash topped Hristov, 6-3, 6-4. Freshman Jana McCord knotted the score at 2-2 as she earned her first conference victory with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Iris Verboven at the No. 6 line.

The Rebels regained the lead at 3-2 with a victory on court five before A&M’s Bhosale won the final three games in the third set for a 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 victory over Khairudinova on the No. 3 singles line to tie the match for the third time and push the deciding contest to the No. 2 line.

In the last match standing, Ole Miss’ 91st-ranked Jones claimed the first set, 6-2, but Gavrilovska earned the split by taking the second set, 6-3. The Aggie freshman quickly fell behind 4-1 in the final set, but she would not yield a game from that point as she went on to win, 6-4, and complete a thrilling A&M comeback victory.

The Aggies look to complete an unblemished home record as they close out the regular season on Sunday against Mississippi State at noon. Stancu, A&M’s lone senior, will be honored following the match as she makes her final appearance of the regular season.

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 Facebook.com/AggieWomensTennis.

Texas A&M Head Coach Howard Joffe

On his overall thoughts on the match:

“More than anything, I was delighted because with the new format, a lot of matches are not going the distance. In other words, if a team reaches four and two girls are at 3-all in the third set, their match is abandoned. Unfortunately, I got what I asked for because I had been whining about that for a while. What was interesting in this match is that our freshmen, Rutuja and Saska, each waged the most demanding battles and comeback battles of all-time. That is the stuff that it is going to take. They will soon turn into sophomores, but that’s the type of experience is invaluable. I was delighted with that and the fight that our kids showed.”

On how a match like tonight can improve the team:

“All along, I have said we have a terribly immature team in many respects. The hope is a match like tonight helps everyone grow up a little bit. The big issue for every team right now, especially ours, is to get folks rested and to get folks healthy. With all sports, it’s about performing well. If we can have our players performing well, we are certainly in the hunt against any team in the nation.”

On Senior Day on Sunday:

“Senior Day is a little bit of a coaching nightmare. Playing tennis matches needs to be as clinical, professional and unemotional as possible in the approach. Senior Day tends to bring out these emotions. Cristina Stancu is the lone senior. She’s undefeated in the SEC at No. 1 singles. She’s had the team on her back all year. As much as I don’t want a fanfare and emotion, I expect it to be an emotion-laden event on Sunday.”

No. 10 Texas A&M 4, No. 29 Ole Miss 3
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
College Station, Texas
April 11, 2014

Singles
1.     #8 Cristina Stancu (TAMU) def. Caroline Rohde-Moe (MISS) 6-2, 6-0
2.     #65 Saska Gavrilovska (TAMU) def. #91 Julia Jones (MISS) 2-6, 6-3, 6-4
3.     Rutuja Bhosale (TAMU) def. Zalina Khairudinova (MISS) 6-2, 1-6, 7-5
4.     Mai El Kamash (MISS) def. Stefania Hristov (TAMU) 6-3, 6-4
5.     Erin Stephens (MISS) def. #118 Anna Mamalat (TAMU) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
6.     Jana McCord (TAMU) def. Iris Verboven (MISS) 7-5, 6-2

Doubles (MISS wins the point)
1.     #23 Hristov/Stancu (TAMU) vs. Stephens/Verboven (MISS) 7-7 unfinished
2.     Milutinovic/Rohde-Moe (MISS) def. Bhosale/Mamalat (TAMU) 8-4
3.     #74 Jones/Khairudinova (MISS) def. Gavrilovska/McCord (TAMU) 8-7 (8)

Order of finish
Singles: 1, 4, 6, 5, 3, 2
Doubles: 2, 3

Team records
Texas A&M: 16-5, 9-3 SEC
Ole Miss: 12-9, 5-7 SEC

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