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Texas A&M Set to Open National Team Indoor Championship

February 06, 2014
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 7 Texas A&M women’s tennis team, coming off its highest ranked win in program history, will face No. 16 Northwestern Friday in the opening round of the 2014 Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Team Indoor Championship, hosted by the University of Virginia. First serve against the Wildcats is slated for 5:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. ET) at the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va.

The winner advances to take on the winner between No. 1 seed Florida and 14th-ranked Virginia in the quarterfinals Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. ET). The tournament semifinals will be held Sunday, with the championship match to be played Monday.

A&M, the No. 8 seed in the 16-team tournament field, is 3-0 following a 4-3 record-setting victory Tuesday at No. 3 North Carolina, the defending national indoor champion. A&M’s Saska Gavrilovska, who swept this week’s Southeastern Conference player and freshman of the week honors, led the comeback charge against the Tar Heels and improved to 3-0 in dual matches, fighting off two match points to defeat fifth-ranked Hayley Carter, 0-6, 6-2, 1-0 (12-10) at No. 2 singles and record what is believed to be the highest ranked singles win by a freshman in program history.

Sophomore Stefania Hristov had a straight-set win at No. 5 singles to put A&M within 2-1, but UNC went up 3-1 with a win at No. 1. Following Gavrilovska’s momentum-shifting win that put A&M within 3-2, freshman Rutuja Bhosale got a straight-set win at No. 6 to tie the score at 3-3, and sophomore Ines Deheza, playing the No. 4 line, won a third-set tiebreaker in the last match standing to clinch the team’s historic victory.

Senior Cristina Stancu, 18-5 overall in singles, enters the tournament ranked a career-high and team-high No. 14 in singles. She and Hristov are No. 22 in doubles with a 13-5 overall mark, including a 2-0 record at the No. 1 line. Deheza and Bhosale are No. 51 in doubles.

Head coach Howard Joffe, in his third season at A&M and in the seventh year of his head coaching career, is rapidly approaching two milestone victories. He enters the tournament 48-10 at A&M, needing only two wins to reach his 50th victory as the Aggie skipper. In addition, Joffe enters the tournament 96-48 overall and would celebrate his 100th career win -- as well as his first national title -- with an A&M victory in the indoor championship match.

Northwestern enters the tournament 2-1 after falling to 15th-ranked Vanderbilt, 5-2, Tuesday in Evansville, Ill. The Wildcats scored their two points at the top of the singles lineup as unranked Veronica Corning defeated 61st- ranked Lauren Mira, 6-1, 6-2, to improve to 12-3 overall, including 3-0 at the No. 1 line. The Wildcats’ 105th-ranked Belinda Niu came back to top Courtney Colton, 2-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10) at the No. 2 line. The Commodores won all three doubles matches against Northwestern, which has three doubles teams in the top 55 of the ITA national doubles rankings.

Northwestern has won the last five meetings against A&M and owns a 6-1 lead in the all-time series, including 3-0 at neutral sites. The teams last met January 29, 2005, in College Station, where the fifth-ranked Wildcats downed A&M, 5-2.

The national indoor tournament field boasts 16 of the 17 top-ranked teams in the country. Fifteen participants advanced to Charlottesville by winning two matches in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend: Alabama, Cal, Clemson, Duke, Georgia, Florida, Miami, Michigan, North Carolina, Northwestern, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC and Vanderbilt. Virginia received an automatic berth as the host of the tournament. The SEC and the Atlantic Coast Conference have the largest representation with five teams each. No. 1-ranked Stanford, which held off Team A&M, 4-3, in the 2013 NCAA Championship final, chose not to participate in the qualifying tournament this season.

Visit 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

Visit the official ITA event page for complete coverage of the 2014 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship, including access to draws and live scores and more.

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