COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas A&M's Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Nazari Urbina are set to open the NCAA Singles Championship tomorrow at the University of Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. In addition, Sanchez-Quintanar and teammate Wen Sun begin competition in the 32-team NCAA Doubles Championship on Thursday.
Sanchez-Quintanar (pronounced keen-tah-nar) has already guaranteed herself All-America honors in singles from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association as the No. 7 seed in the 64-player field. Listed No. 6 in the ITA singles rankings, the junior from Campo de Criptana, Spain, is the first A&M player to ever be seeded in the NCAA Singles Championship. She opens the tournament against 52nd-ranked Alexa Guarachi (30-9) of Alabama at 9 a.m. (CT).
The first player in the history of the Big 12 Conference to be named both Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year in the same season, Sanchez-Quintanar is the league's automatic singles qualifier and enters the tournament 37-5 overall and riding a nine-match win streak. Currently listed second in the A&M records for most wins in a single season, Sanchez-Quintanar was the Big 12 No. 1 singles champion with a 9-0 record and posted a 20-1 record at the top spot and a 4-0 record at the No. 2 line in all dual matches while leading the Aggies to a 19-6 record and an appearance in the second round of the NCAA team tournament. She is 16-4 against ranked opponents in all matches.
Sanchez-Quintanar, who became the highest ranked player in A&M history when she received a No. 4 ranking on Feb. 28, is making her second consecutive appearance in both the NCAA singles and doubles championships. Last year in her only season at Maryland, Sanchez-Quintanar became the Terrapins' first-ever player to reach the singles round of 32 after defeating future A&M teammate Urbina in the first round. Sanchez-Quintanar was eliminated in the second round by Zoe De Bruycker of North Carolina.
In the 2011 NCAA Doubles Championship, Sanchez-Quintanar and Maryland partner Jordaan Sanford were eliminated in the first round after falling in three sets to 12th-ranked Linda Abu Meshrefova and Nida Hamilton of Northwestern.
This year, Sanchez-Quintanar teams with Sun (Dalian, China), the 2011 National Junior College Athletic Association doubles runner-up as a sophomore at Tyler Junior College. The pair, ranked 29th with a 23-9 overall record, opens NCAA tournament play against 32nd-ranked Lorraine Guillermo and Khunpak Issara (22-4) of Pepperdine on Thursday at a time to be determined. The Wave duo enters the tournament riding a 14-match win streak.
Urbina, who becomes A&M's first three-time participant in the NCAA Singles Championship, faces a Maryland opponent in the first round of the singles tournament for the second consecutive year as she opens against 28th-ranked Cristina Stancu (22-10) Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. (CT). A junior from Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, Urbina is ranked No. 53 in singles and enters the tournament 20-7 overall, including 17-5 in dual matches and 6-6 against ranked opponents.
Urbina, who in 2010 became A&M's first-ever freshman to compete in the elite event, has been eliminated in the first round each of the last two years, falling in three sets to No. 11 Caitlin Whoriskey of Tennessee as a freshman and falling in straight sets to Sanchez-Quintanar last year.
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. Both the singles and doubles championship matches will be played May 28.
California senior Jana Juricova is the defending singles champion and enters the tournament as the No. 6 seed. Hilary Barte and Mallory Burdette of Stanford were the 2011 NCAA doubles champions.
Kim Labuschagne posted A&M's best singles finish with a quarterfinal appearance in 1987. In doubles, two A&M teams have reached the round of 16: Jessica Roland and Helga Vieria in 2004 and Tiffany Clifford and Sarah Foster in 2006.
Live scoring of the 2012 NCAA singles and doubles matches will be available at http://www.georgiadogs.com/sports/m-tennis/spec-rel/ncaa-2012.html.