COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M’s Saska Gavrilovska and Cristina Stancu are set to open the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Singles Championship tomorrow at the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. In addition, Stancu and teammate Stefania Hristov begin competition in the 32-team NCAA Doubles Championship on Thursday.
Gavrilovska, the second freshman in Texas A&M history to earn a berth in the prestigious tournament, is first to hit the courts and will take on a formidable foe in senior All-American Anett Schutting of California at 8 a.m. (CT). Schutting is a No. 9-16 seed and is 18th in the most recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) national singles rankings.
Stancu, a No. 9-16 seed who has already guaranteed herself ITA All-America honors based on her top-16 seed in the 64-player field, opens first-round action against another Cal Golden Bear All-American, 23rd-ranked Zsofi Susanyi, at 9 a.m. (CT).
On Thursday, Stancu and Hristov open the 32-team doubles against Masa Grgan and Abigail Tere-Apisah of Georgia State at a time to be determined.
Live scoring of all matches will be available at georgiadogs.com. All matches, including doubles, will be the best of three sets. Regular scoring and a 12-point tiebreaker at 6-all will be used for all matches. Both the singles and doubles national championship matches will be played Monday, May 26.
Gavrilovska, from Serbia, is ranked 56th in the nation with a 20-7 overall record. She is 7-4 against ranked opponents and enters the tournament riding a career-best seven-match win streak.
In her most recent outing, Gavrilovska held a 7-6 (6), 1-0 lead over North Carolina’s fifth-ranked Hayley Carter when the match was stopped after the Tar Heels clinched the 4-0 team victory against the Aggies (21-7) in the NCAA round of 16 on May 15 in Atlanta. Gavrilovska had defeated No. 5 Carter on Feb. 4 in Chapel Hill, N.C., recording the highest ranked win by an A&M freshman in school history while helping the Aggies defeat the then-No. 3 Tar Heels, 4-3, to also mark the highest ranked team win in school history.
Tenth-ranked Stancu is 33-8 overall in singles, having won 15 of her last 16 decisions. Her 33 wins ties for fifth in the A&M season records. The senior, 21-5 against ranked opponents this season, is making her second appearance in the singles tournament. As a sophomore at Maryland, Stancu defeated future A&M teammate Nazari Urbina, 7-6 (3), 6-0, in the opening round before falling in the second round to No. 9-16 seed Lauren Embree of Florida, 6-0, 6-3.
Schutting is 27-12 overall and Susanyi is 25-9 after leading the Bears (20-5) to the NCAA round of 16 before falling to 11th-ranked Stanford, 4-3.
Hristov, a sophomore, and Stancu enter the doubles tournament 24-10 overall and ranked No. 14 after having reached a season-high No. 12 ranking on April 22. This is the second NCAA appearance by the Romanian duo, which suffered a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 opening-round loss to No. 5-8 seed Hermon Brhane and Whitney Ritchie of Oklahoma in 2013 in Urbana, Ill.
The Georgia State tandem also is making its second consecutive appearance in the doubles championship. Tere-Apisah, one of the most decorated student-athletes in Georgia State athletic history, and Grgan are ranked 25th with a 23-4 overall record, and they enter the tournament riding a nine-match win streak. They helped lead the Panthers to a 13-8 record this season, including a historic first-round 4-3 victory over Tennessee which marked the first time a Panthers women’s athletic program posted a win in NCAA tournament play.
Last year, Tere-Apisah and Grgan pushed No. 3 seeded Patricia Veresova and Mary Weatherholt of Nebraska to the limit before suffering a 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (6) opening-round loss.
This marks the 13th year A&M has been represented in the NCAA Singles Championship, including the fourth time the Aggies have placed two in the 64-player tournament field in the same year. In addition, this is the third time overall and the third consecutive year A&M has had a player seeded in singles. Former Aggie standout Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar was seeded each of the last two years, including a school-record No. 4 seed in 2013 to become A&M’s first two-time All-American in women’s tennis.
A&M players are a combine 13-15 in NCAA singles play, with Kim Labuschagne and Sanchez-Quintanar posting the best finish after reaching the quarterfinals in 1987 and 2012, respectively.
This is the 14th year A&M has competed in the NCAA Doubles Championship. A&M, which sent two teams to the 1986 tournament, is 2-14 all-time with Jessica Roland and Helga Vieira reaching the round of 16 in 2004 and Tiffany Clifford and Sarah Foster getting a first-round victory in 2006.
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 History in the NCAA Individual Championships:
Singles: 1987, ’90, ’93, 2003, ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07, ’10 (2), ‘11, ‘12 (2), ‘13 (2), ‘14 (2)
Doubles: 1986 (2), ’88, ’89, ’94, ’96, ’97, 2002, ’03, ’04, ’06, ’07, ‘12, ‘13, ‘14
Singles: Quarterfinals ( Kim Labuschagne, 1987; Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar, 2012)
Doubles: Round of 16 ( Jessica Roland/Helga Vieira 2004; Tiffany Clifford/Sarah Foster, 2006)