Texas A&M to Face LSU at SEC Tournament

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NASHVILLE – No. 17 Texas A&M (16-11, 6-7 SEC) vs. No. 21 LSU (13-9, 6-7 SEC)
SEC Women’s Tennis Tournament (Second Round)
Thursday, April 20, 3 p.m.
Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Tennis Center, Nashville, Tennessee
Tournament Central | Live Stats

Seventeenth-ranked Texas A&M is the No. 9 seed at the 2017 SEC Women’s Tennis Tournament and will face 21st-ranked and No. 8 seed LSU in the second round, Thursday at 3 p.m. at Vanderbilt’s Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Tennis Center.

Texas A&M (16-11, 6-7 SEC) tied LSU (13-9, 6-7 SEC) for eighth place in the SEC standings and received a first-round bye after winning its last five matches. The Aggies, up four spots in this week’s ITA national team rankings, capped the regular season by recording the highest ranked win in program history, stunning No. 2 Georgia, 4-2, in Athens. It was the Aggies’ first-ever victory over the Bulldogs.

“We are looking forward to the match against LSU tomorrow,” Texas A&M head coach Mark Weaver said. “We lost a very close match to them several weeks back at their place. We have made tremendous strides since then, and we have taken our games up a level and are playing with a tremendous amount of confidence and belief.”

The winner of the second-round match advances to take on No. 1 seed and SEC regular season champion Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals on Friday at 3 p.m.

“There are never any easy draws in the SEC tournament, and this year's pack is loaded even more than usual,” Weaver added. “We are definitely going to take each match one step at a time, which is truly all you can do when our conference has the No. 1, 2 and 4-ranked teams in the nation along with 11 out of the top 25 teams in the nation. Having said that, we are no doubt playing are best tennis of the season, and we are looking on continuing on that path.”

Texas A&M, 27-12 in the all-time series against LSU, won the doubles point against the then 16th-ranked Tigers in the regular-season matchup on March 25 in Baton Rouge, but LSU rallied to win a hard-fought 4-2 decision. It was LSU’s first SEC regular-season victory over Texas A&M since the Aggies joined the league in 2012-13.

The Tigers also won the only other time the teams met at an SEC Tennis Tournament. In the quarterfinals of the 2015 SEC Women’s Tennis Tournament, 24th-ranked LSU won a third-set tiebreaker in the last match standing to upset No. 3 seed and seventh-ranked Texas A&M, 4-3, at the Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia, South Carolina.

Texas A&M is 4-4 all-time in the SEC Tournament. Last year the sixth-seeded Aggies defeated No. 14 seed Alabama, 4-0, in the second round and fell to No. 3 seed Georgia, 4-1, in the quarterfinals in Baton Rouge.

Seniors Rachel Pierson and Rutuja Bhosale, both nationally ranked in singles and doubles, lead the Aggies’ charge into the 2017 tournament. Pierson, a season-high No. 19 in the singles rankings—one spot shy of her career high—has won a team-best seven consecutive matches and leads the team with a 26-11 overall record. She also has the most wins in dual matches only with a 16-8 record, all at the No. 1 line. In addition, the Princeton, New Jersey, native led the team in wins with a 7-5 ledger in SEC matches only, and she has the most ranked wins with an 11-10 mark, including a career-best straight-set win over then fourth-ranked Astra Sharma of Vanderbilt on April 7.

Bhosale is coming off the highest-ranked singles victory of her career, having defeated 11th-ranked Elena Christofi, 7-5, 6-4, at the No. 2 line to clinch the Aggies’ historic victory at Georgia. Bhosale, who jumped 28 spots to No. 51 this week, marking her highest ranking since a career-high No. 45 showing in the 2016 fall preseason rankings, improved to 19-11, including 13-8 in dual matches, 6-4 in SEC contests and 7-7 against ranked opponents.

Pierson and Bhosale enter the SEC Tournament ranked seventh. A program all-time high No. 4 in last week’s ITA national doubles rankings last week, the pair is 24-9 overall, including 13-7 in dual matches, all at the No. 1 position.

Saska Gavrilovska and Stefania Hristov, another pair of seniors, have bolstered the Aggies’ doubles play as of late, posting a 6-1 record in dual matches, including a 4-1 record in SEC matches only. They enter the SEC Tournament riding a team-leading five-match win streak.

LSU enters the SEC Tournament having lost five of its last six matches, including a 4-2 setback at No. 23 Tennessee in the final match of the regular season to mark the Tigers’ third consecutive loss.

Freshman Jade Lewis is a team-high No. 22 in the ITA singles rankings, and senior Joana Valle Costa is No. 66. Lewis is 13-6 overall, including 12-6 at the No. 1 line. Valle Costa is 13-5 overall, including 11-5 in dual matches, having seen action at the Nos. 1-3 positions.

Junior Ryann Roster, who leads the Tigers with a 24-10 overall record and is tied with Lewis and sophomore Jessica Golovin for most wins in dual matches with a 13-6 ledger, is ranked 23rd in doubles with Valle Costa. The pair is 11-7 overall, including 8-7 in dual matches as well as 4-5 in SEC matches only. They are 4-4 against nationally ranked opponents.

This is the second consecutive year the Tigers are the No. 8 seed at the SEC Tournament. Last year, LSU came from behind to knock off No. 9 seed Kentucky, 4-3, in the second round. The Tigers then fell to top-seeded and eventual tournament champion Florida in the quarterfinals.

Complete SEC Tournament Schedule:

Wednesday, April 19
Match 1: #14 Alabama vs #11 Tennessee, 10 a.m.
Match 2: #13 Missouri vs #12 Ole Miss, 1 p.m.

Thursday, April 20
Match 3: Winner of Match 1 vs #6 Mississippi State, 9 a.m.
Match 4: #10 Auburn vs #7 Arkansas, Noon
Match 5: #9 Texas A&M vs #8 LSU, 3 p.m.
Match 6: Winner of Match 2 vs #5 Kentucky, 6 p.m.

Friday, April 21
QUARTERFINALS
Match 7: Winner of Match 3 vs #3 Florida, 9 a.m.
Match 8: Winner of Match 4 vs #2 Georgia, Noon
Match 9: Winner of Match 5 vs #1 Vanderbilt, 3 p.m.
Match 10: Winner of Match 6 vs #4 South Carolina, 6 p.m.

Saturday, April 22
SEMIFINALS
Match 11: Winner of Match 7 vs Winner of Match 8, 10 a.m.
Match 12: Winner of Match 9 vs Winner of Match 10, 1 p.m.

Sunday, April 23
CHAMPIONSHIP
Championship: Winner of Match 11 vs Winner of match 12, Noon

Texas A&M SEC Tennis Tournament History

Texas A&M All-Time Tournament Seeds:
Seed Total Year
No. 2 1 2013
No. 3 1 2015
No. 5 1 2014
No. 6 1 2016
No. 9 1 2017

Texas A&M All-Time Tournament Finishes:
Semifinals (2) 2013, 2014
Quarterfinals (2) 2015, 2016

Texas A&M All-Time SEC Tournament Results:

2013 SEC Tournament
Starkville, Mississippi
QF W Auburn (19) 4-0 4/19/13
SF L Florida (2) 1-4 4/20/13

2014 SEC Tournament
Columbia, Missouri
2R W Missouri 4-0 4/17/14
QF W Florida (4) 4-3 4/18/14
SF L Alabama (3) 2-4 4/19/14

2015 SEC Tournament
Columbia, South Carolina
QF L LSU (24) 3-4 4/17/15

2016 SEC Tournament
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
2R W Alabama (61) 4-0 4/21/16
QF L Georgia (4) 1-4 4/22/16

Texas A&M All-Time Tournament Series Records:
Auburn 1-0
Missouri 1-0
Alabama 1-1
Florida 1-1
Georgia 0-1
LSU 0-1
Total 4-4