CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The 13th-ranked Texas A&M women's tennis team fell to eighth-ranked and No. 6 seed North Carolina, 4-0, today in the opening round of the ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championship, hosted by the University of Virginia at the Boar's Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va.
A match-up between two top-10 doubles teams highlighted the match as A&M's seventh-ranked duo of Stefania Hristov and Cristina Stancu were pitted against the Tar Heels' eighth-ranked team of Ashley Dai and Whitney Kay at the No. 1 line. There were eight service breaks in the match with the Aggies being first to go up a break to take a 2-1 lead. A&M never trailed the remainder of the match and later tallied its fourth break to take a 6-5 lead. The Aggies then held serve to go up, 7-5, and closed out the 8-5 victory with their fifth service break to improve to 3-0 in dual matches.
"That would be the highlight of the match," A&M head coach Howard Joffe said. I don't know that they played the best that I've seen them play, and yet they had a very workman-like performance. That goes down as a very good win for them."
The Tar Heels (6-0) evened the race for the doubles point with an 8-5 victory at the No. 2 line. The Aggies, who had a total of four freshmen competing in doubles, were forced to make changes to the lineup at the No. 2 and 3 lines after Wen Sun was held out with an illness. UNC took advantage as Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and freshman Anna Mamalat were teaming together for the first time this spring. Zoe De Bruycker and Gina Suarez-Malaguti went on to win the match, 8-5.
Aggie freshmen twins Ines and Paula Deheza were locked in a battle with 51st-ranked Tessa Lyons and Lauren McHale at the No. 3 line but came up just short of an upset. The Aggies broke to go up 7-6 and were serving for the match, but the UNC duo broke back to tie the match at 7-7 and force a tiebreaker. The tiebreaker was tied at 2-2 before the Tar Heels took the lead for good en route to a 7-5 win to clinch the point and give UNC a 1-0 lead.
"I'm not that disappointed at all with the effort," Joffe said. "We had two match points to win the doubles point, and playing against North Carolina, an obviously very good team, that represents a huge improvement from losing the doubles point two weeks ago to North Texas. I thought Ines and Paula Deheza did an awesome job for us and came within a point of winning."
The Tar Heels fielded a singles lineup loaded top to bottom with nationally ranked players, including four who are listed in the top 40. No. 101-ranked Lyons put the Tar Heels ahead, 2-0, with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Mamalat at the No. 6 line. Ines Deheza, playing up at No. 4 singles in place of 82nd-ranked Sun, then fell to 111th-ranked McHale, 6-4, 6-0, to give UNC a 3-0 lead.
No. 36-ranked Caroline Price then closed out the win for the Tar Heels with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Hristov at No. 5.
The other three matches were being tightly contested before Price clinched the match. No. 3 Sanchez-Quintanar, the highest ranked singles player in the 16-team tournament, and No. 11 Suarez-Malaguti had split sets, 6-4, 1-6, at the top of the lineup. Kay, ranked 21st, took the first set against No. 45 Stancu, 6-4, at the No. 2 line, but Stancu led 5-4 in the second set. And at No. 3 singles, 28th-ranked De Bruycker narrowly edged Nazari Urbina, 7-6, in the first set and had a 1-0 lead in the second set.
"In the singles, we were dead even with them at Nos. 1, 2 and 3," Joffe said. "We missed having Sunny in the lineup, which hurt us a little bit down in the lineup, but our kids our playing better tennis than what they were two weeks ago.
"It obviously doesn't feel very good to lose the match and to lose the match by that score line. So on the one hand, the loss is terribly disappointing, and on the other hand we have to recognize that it is a very good team, that we do have four freshmen playing and that they will get better as they can get a little bit more experience. All in all it was not a bad day for us."
The Aggies (2-1) return to action Saturday in the consolation bracket with teams and times to be determined once all first-round matches have been completed.
Live scoring of all matches will be available at itatennis.com. 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: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Aggie-Womens-Tennis/143874782434654
No. 8 North
Carolina 4, No. 13 Texas A&M 0
ITA National Team Indoors (First Round)
February 8, 2013
Boar's Head Sports Club
1. #3 Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar (TAMU) vs. #11 Gina Suarez-Malaguti (NC), 6-4, 1-6 unfinished
2. #45 Cristina Stancu (TAMU) vs. #21 Whitney Kay (NC), 4-6, 5-4 unfinished
3. Nazari Urbina (TAMU) vs. #28 Zoe De Bruycker (NC), 6-7, 1-1 unfinished
4. Lauren McHale (NC) def. Ines Deheza (TAMU), 6-4, 6-0
5. #36 Caroline Price (NC) def. Stefania Hristov (TAMU), 6-2, 6-4
6. #101 Tessa Lyons (NC) def. Anna Mamalat (TAMU), 6-3, 6-2
Doubles (UNC wins the point)
1. #7 Hristov/Stancu (TAMU) def. Ashley Dai/Kay (NC), 8-5
2. De Bruycker/Suarez-Malaguti (UNC) def. Mamalat/Sanchez-Quintanar (TAMU), 8-5
3. #51 McHale/Lyons (NC) def. I. Deheza/Paula Deheza (TAMU), 8-7 (5)
Doubles: 1, 2, 3
Singles: 6, 4, 5
Texas A&M: 2-1
North Carolina: 6-0