Saska Gavrilovska (pronounced saush-kah gav-ril-ov-ska) also was selected to compete in the singles tournament as an at-large entry. She becomes only the second freshman ever selected to represent Texas A&M in the prestigious event, joining four-time NCAA singles participant Nazari Urbina, who completed her stellar Aggie career last year.
In addition, the Romanian duo of Stancu and sophomore Stefania Hristov will be competing in the 32-team NCAA Doubles Championship after receiving an at-large berth for the second consecutive year.
Singles and doubles competitions will be conducted May 21-26 at the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., following the conclusion of the team championship (May 15-20). All matches will be the best of three sets. Regular scoring and a 12-point tiebreaker at six games all will be used for all matches.
A No. 9-16 seed in the singles tournament field, Stancu is eighth in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national rankings released April 22. An All-SEC first-team selection and a member of the SEC All-Tournament Team this season, Stancu enters the team portion of the NCAA tournament riding a 13-match win streak in singles. She sports a 31-7 overall record, having gone 8-0 at the No. 1 line in SEC matches only, 20-4 against ranked opponents, and 15-3 in dual matches only. Her 31 wins ties for seventh most victories in a single season in A&M history.
"I can't help but feel a little sentimental and proud that Cristina has earned All-American honors by virtue of her seeding,” said Howard Joffe, who is in his third season as head coach of the Aggies and in the seventh season of his head coaching career. “As a fairly young coach it's very exciting to see players that have worked so hard be rewarded in this way."
A player must meet any of the following criteria to earn ITA All-America honors in singles: be a top-16 seed in the NCAA Singles Championship; reach the round of 16 in the NCAA Singles Championship; or finish in the Top 20 in the final ITA national singles rankings. By virtue of Stancu’s No. 9-16 seed, Joffe has had a player earn All-America status in each of his three years as the Aggies’ skipper. Stancu joins Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar, the first-ever Joffe-coached All-American in 2012 who went on to become A&M’s first two-time All-American in 2013, in the elite club.
Gavrilovska has accumulated numerous accolades throughout in her rookie campaign, including selection to the All-SEC second team and SEC All-Freshman team. She is a four-time SEC Freshman of the Week and also was named SEC Player of the Week after defeating fifth ranked Haley Carter, 0-6, 6-2, 1-0 (10) in the last match standing in A&M’s 4-3 victory at No. 3 North Carolina on Feb 4. It marks the highest ranked win by an A&M freshman, as well as A&M’s highest ranked team victory in school history.
The Serbian, who has been as high as No. 47 in the ITA singles rankings, is 19-7 overall in singles and is riding a career-best six-match winning streak entering NCAA team competition. Gavrilovska is 15-4 in dual matches only, having seen action at the Nos. 1-3 positions, and she posted a 7-2 record in SEC match play, including a 5-0 mark at the No. 2 line.
"Saska's inclusion is likely the best advert for our program,” Joffe said. “This is a young lady who came to Texas A&M after a significant knee injury that had her out of tennis for over a year. In the fall she played very sparingly, but with the support she enjoyed here both on and off the court, she has very quickly become one of the finer players in the country."
Stancu and Hristov are eager to rebound from a disappointing opening-round loss in their inaugural NCAA Doubles Championship appearance last year. Currently ranked a season-high No. 12 in the nation, the duo enters the team NCAA competition 23-9 overall this season, including 12-4 in dual matches only, all at the No. 1 line.
"Stefania and Cristina will no doubt be right at the epicenter of the competition in Athens,” Joffe said. “I'm thrilled such good friends can get to enjoy the experience together once again."
Texas A&M (19-6) received a No. 10 seed in the 64-team NCAA Tennis Championship and will host first and second rounds May 9-10 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. The Aggies, who are making their 15th consecutive and 20th overall appearance in the team tournament, open against Stony Brook (15-3) on Friday, May 9 at 2 p.m.
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.
The complete list of NCAA singles and doubles qualifiers is available here.