COLLEGE STATION, Texas- The Texas A&M women’s tennis team got a crucial victory as the Aggies defeated 19th-ranked Wake Forest, 6-1, today at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
Although A&M (6-3) swept the doubles matches, the singles portion was a dogfight as four of the six matches went three sets. A&M dropped the first set on three courts but would come back to win three of the four three-setters to win the match.
“These girls kept fighting, kept their heart in it,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “That was the difference in the match; the girls gave themselves a chance to win.”
A&M got off to a commanding start, winning all three doubles matches. Stephanie Davidson (Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas) and Elze Potgieter (Bloemfontein, South Africa) were first off with an 8-4 victory over Alexandra Hirsch and Jenna Loeb at the No. 3 line.
Anna Blagodarova (Toronto, Ontario) and Michelle Sammons (Durban, South Africa) then clinch the point with an 8-2 victory over Ana Jerman and Christian Tara at the No. 2 line. Tiffany Clifford (Little Rock, Ark.) and Christi Liles (Largo, Fla.) completed the sweep with an 8-4 win over Sasha Kulikova and Sierra Poske at the No. 1 spot.
“I don’t know that we played that fantastic in doubles, but we didn’t hurt ourselves at all and we were battling very well,” Kleinecke said. “No. 2 doubles was down in every game and found a way to come back and win them. We played very, very solid, and I thought took control right from the beginning. Then it was a matter of keeping our focus.”
Liles ran her singles winning streak to six and quickly gave the Aggies a 2-0 lead with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Tara at the No. 3 singles line, but A&M had dropped the first sets at Nos. 2, 4 and 5 and was trailing in the second set at the No. 1 line.
“We were having a hard time,” Kleinecke said. “We fell down 5-2 at least three or fours spots in the first set. The good thing about it is that they battled through and showed a lot of heart and a lot of guts and clawed back into the match. That was the turning point of the match for us was in those first sets. We kept battling even though we were down.”
Davidson, who was in a tiebreaker in the first set when Liles gave A&M the 2-0 lead, was the only other player to post a two-set victory. The freshman, playing her first singles match since Feb. 2, overcame a 5-2 deficit against Katarina Reveche at the No. 6 line to force the tiebreaker. Davidson won the tiebreaker, 7-5, and then raced to a 6-1 second-set win to put the Aggies up, 3-0.
“Stephanie did a great job of winning her first set after being down 5-2,” Kleinecke said. “That gave us a big boost, and then she won 6-1 in the second set.”
With Morgan Frank out of the lineup with an illness, Marisa Druss (Austin, Texas) moved up to the No. 5 spot. The senior also overcame a 5-2 deficit to force a tiebreaker in the first set against Emilee Malvehy but then dropped the tiebreaker, 7-0, just before Liles had won her match. Druss then cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 win in the final two sets to clinch the winning point for the Aggies.
“All the way down, you could go to every court,” Kleinecke said. “No. 6 did it, and No. 5 was down 5-2 in the first set and battled back to 5-4, losses the first set and comes back to win 6-1, 6-1 after that. No. 4 was down 5-2, brings it back to 5-4. You could just keep going all the way through.”
A&M had already clinched the match when Kulikova gave the Demon Deacons (3-3) their only point by defeating Blagodarova, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, at the No. 2 line.
Clifford dropped her first set, 6-4, to Poske at the No. 4 line but came back to win the next two sets, 6-3, 6-4, to put A&M up 5-1. Potgieter then finished up with a 6-1, 6-7 (7), 6-2 victory over Hirsch at the No. 1 line.
The Aggies are off until March 13 when they play host to No. 2-ranked Georgia at the Mitchell Tennis Center. First serve is at 6 p.m.
“I would expect by the time we come back, the sickness and the sore ankles will be back to normal,” Kleinecke said “This break is coming at a very good time for us to get a little of a mental and physical rest.
“This team will be going hard. We want a signature win, and that (Georgia match) will definitely give us another shot at one.”
No. 32 Texas A&M 6, No. 19 Wake Forest 1
1. Elze Potgieter (A&M) def. Alexandra Hirsch (WFU), 6-1, 6-7 (7), 6-2
2. Sasha Kulikova (WFU) def. Anna Blagodarova (A&M), 6-2, 4-6, 6-1
3. Christi Liles (A&M) def. Christian Tara (WFU), 6-2, 6-3
4. Tiffany Clifford (A&M) def. Sierra Poske (WFU), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
5. Marisa Druss (A&M) def. Emilee Malvehy (WFU), 6-7 (0), 6-1, 6-1
6. Stephanie Davidson (A&M) def. Katarina Reveche (WFU), 7-6 (5), 6-1
Doubles (A&M wins the point)
1. (#60) Clifford/Liles (A&M) def. Kulikova/Poske (WFU), 8-4
2. (#42) Blagodarova/Sammons (A&M) def. Ana Jerman/Tara (WFU), 8-2
3. Davidson/Potgieter (A&M) def. Hirsch/Jenna Loeb (WFU), 8-4
Order of finish (D3, D2, D1, S3, S6, S5*, S2, S4, S1)
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center (Attendance: 658)
Team records: Texas A&M (6-3); Wake Forest (3-3)