LAS VEGAS- It wasn’t in the cards today for the Texas A&M women’s team, as the Aggies fell to Florida International, 4-3, today at the Fertitta Tennis Complex.
The No. 34 Aggies (5-2) built a 3-0 lead, but the 32nd-ranked Golden Panthers came back to win the final four singles matches, including three that were decided in three sets, to get the win and improve to 3-3.
“This is obviously a very disappointing loss for us, but I give a lot of credit to Florida International for never giving up,’ A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “We had them down 3-0 and couldn’t shut the door.”
The Aggies took a 1-0 lead by taking the doubles point for the sixth time in seven matches. FIU held an early edge as the duo of Priscilla Castillo and Egle Petrauskaite knocked off 60th-ranked Tiffany Clifford (Little Rock, Ark.) and Christi Liles (Largo, Fla.), 8-3, at the No. 1 line.
The A&M tandem of Anna Blagodarova (Toronto, Ontario) and Michelle Sammons (Durban, South Africa), the 42nd ranked doubles team in the nation, held off Liset Brito and Maria Pazo, 9-7, at the No. 2 spot. Stephanie Davidson (Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas) and Morgan Frank (Oldsmar, Fla.) followed with an 8-4 victory over Marijana Cutuk and Maria Spenceley to clinch the point and improve to 6-0 in dual matches.
Singles began with Liles topping Pazo, 6-0, 6-4, at the No. 3 singles, and Frank polishing off Cutuk, 6-4, 6-1, at the No. 5 line to quickly give the Aggies a 3-0 lead.
With the Aggies needing just one more point to clinch the match, Petrauskaite put FIU on the scoreboard with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Blagodarova at No. 2.
The remaining three matches would be decided in three sets. Both Marisa Druss (Austin, Texas) and Clifford had come back to win their second sets after dropping the first set. Druss, playing the No. 6 line, split with Maria Vallasciani, 4-6, 6-2, but Vallasciani raced to a 6-1 third-set win to take the match and put the Golden Panthers within 3-2.
Castillo then tied the match at 3-3, defeating Clifford, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 at the No. 4 line.
Elze Potgieter had won her first set against 86th-ranked Brito, taking the tiebreaker, 7-3. Brito, however, regrouped and won the next two sets, 6-2, 6-1 to give FIU the victory.
“I really feel like the difference in this match is that we didn’t make them compete for every set and we gave too many sets away,” Kleinecke said. “That hurt us in the long run.
“This isn’t a bad team that we lost to. It is not a match that I look as we did something unbelievably wrong and didn’t work hard enough. We worked hard enough. We tried. We wanted it. We prepared. We had everything right. We just didn’t make them compete at the right time, and they lifted their level and we didn’t.
“It is something that we are going to have to hurt from for a little bit and be ready to come out tomorrow and go again.”
The Aggies complete a run of six consecutive matches on the road Sunday as they take on No. 14 Fresno State at 10 a.m. (12 p.m. CST) at the Fertitta Tennis Complex. The Bulldogs, who defeated FIU, 6-1, on Friday, represent the highest ranked team A&M has faced this season.
No. 32 Florida International 4, No. 34 Texas A&M 3
1. (#86) Liset Brito (FIU) def. Elze Potgieter (A&M), 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-1
2. Egle Petrauskaite (FIU) def. Anna Blagodarova (A&M), 6-4, 7-5
3. Christi Liles (A&M) def. Maria Pazo (FIU), 6-0, 6-4
4. Priscilla Castillo (FIU) def. Tiffany Clifford (A&M), 6-2, 3-6, 6-1
5. Morgan Frank (A&M) def. Marijana Cutuk (FIU), 6-4, 6-1
6. Maria Vallasciani (FIU) def. Marisa Druss (A&M), 6-4, 2-6, 6-1
Doubles (A&M wins the point)
1. Castillo/Petrauskaite (FIU) def. (#60) Clifford/Liles (A&M), 8-3
2. (#42) Blagodarova/Sammons (A&M) def. Brito/Pazo (FIU), 9-7
3. Stephanie Davidson/Frank (A&M) def. Cutuk/Maria Spenceley (FIU), 8-4
Order of finish (D1, D2, D3, S3, S5, S2, S6, S4, S1*)
Fertitta Tennis Complex (Attendance: n/a)
Team records: Texas A&M (5-2); FIU (3-3)