COLLEGE STATION, Texas-A&M dropped the doubles point for the first time this season and trailed 2-0 before making its comeback to improve to 5-1. UNLV, which was 5-0 in home matches, falls to 6-2 overall.
“After the adversity of losing the doubles point, we came out and really took it to them in the singles as far as out-fighting and scrapping and finding a way to win today,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “It was kind of an ugly match, and the wind was a little bit of a factor in that, but we finally started making some adjustments that we didn’t make in the doubles.”
After A&M’s Stephanie Davidson (Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas) and Morgan Frank (Oldsmar, Fla.) improved to 5-0 in dual matches by racing to an 8-0 trouncing over Sharon Marin and Alisa Razina at the No. 3 doubles line, the Lady Rebels won at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles to take a 1-0 lead.
“The discouraging thing today was the doubles, and that has been such a strength for us,” Kleinecke said. “In some ways, maybe it was good that we had to lose the doubles point and find a way to come out and win the match and know that we can do that.”
UNLV then built a 2-0 lead as No. 23-ranked Elena Gantcheva defeated Elze’ Potgieter, 6-4, 6-3, at No. 1 singles. But then the Aggies began to rally.
Tiffany Clifford (Little Rock, Ark.) put the Aggies on the board with a 7-6, 6-0 victory over Nikol Dimitrova at the No. 4 line, and Christi Liles (Largo, Fla.) evened the score at 2-2 with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Katy Williams at the No. 3 line.
The remaining three sets would be forced to go a third set to decide the match. Anna Blagodarova (Toronto, Ontario), playing the No. 2 line, and Marisa Druss (Austin, Texas), playing the No. 6 spot, each won their second sets after dropping their first sets. Frank, playing the No. 5 line, also had to go to a third set after winning her first set against Anna Maskaljun, 6-3, but then dropping the second set 6-2.
Frank, riding the momentum of her teammates’ second-set victories, then took the third set, 6-3, to give A&M its first lead at 3-2. Druss followed with a clinching 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory against Adrienn Hidvegi.
“The third sets were the difference today,” Kleinecke said. “Each team needed to win two three-setters to win the match. This is going to make us a stronger team in the long run. This is kind of why you play these, so that you can get into the end of the season and you feel like you have seen everything, and that is what you draw on.”
Although Blagodarova fell to Kristina Nedeltcheva, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2, to conclude the match, it was her second set victory that helped spur on her teammates at the No. 5 and No. 6 lines.
“I’m really proud of the heart that this team showed today in this match, coming out with the four singles wins,” Kleinecke said. “UNLV is a team that is going to beat a lot of people this year, and this is going to be a win that is going to help us. I feel fortunate that we came out with it.”
Next up for the Aggies is a contest against No. 32 Florida International Saturday at 10 a.m. (12 p.m. CST) at the Fertitta Tennis Complex.
No. 34 Texas A&M 4, No. 38 UNLV 3
1. (#23) Elena Gantcheva (UNLV) def. Elze Potgieter (A&M), 6-4, 6-3
2. Kristina Nedeltcheva (UNLV) def. Anna Blagodarova (A&M), 7-6, 3-6, 6-2
3. Christi Liles (A&M) def. Katy Williams (UNLV), 7-5, 6-3
4. Tiffany Clifford (A&M) def. Nikol Dimitrova (UNLV), 7-6, 6-0
5. Morgan Frank (A&M) def. Anna Maskaljun (UNLV), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
6. Marisa Druss (A&M) def. Adrienn Hidvegi (UNLV), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
Doubles (UNLV wins the point)
1. Gantcheva/Nedeltcheva (UNLV) def. (#60) Clifford/Liles (A&M), 8-6
2. Maskaljun/Williams (UNLV) def. (#42) Blagodarova/Sammons (A&M), 8-4
3. Stephanie Davidson/Frank (A&M) def. Sharon Marin/Alisa Razina (UNLV), 8-0
Order of finish (D3, D1, D2, S1, S4, S3, S5, S6*, S2)
Fertitta Tennis Complex (Attendance: n/a)
Team records: Texas A&M (5-1); UNLV (6-2)