NORMAN, Okla.- The Texas A&M women’s tennis team completed a successful conference-opening weekend, moving to 2-0 in the Big 12 and 8-4 overall after defeating Oklahoma, 6-1, on a blustery day at the Headington Family Tennis Center.
“I’m proud of the fight that the girls showed,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “Today was actually tougher wind-wise than yesterday, and we did a lot better job adjusting to it. I was really proud of the way they handled the adversity with the wind, because it was a tough day.”
A&M, which was coming off a 7-0 victory at Oklahoma State on Saturday, took an early lead against the Sooners, coming out on top in the first two doubles matches to be completed. The Aggie pair of Anna Blagodarova and Michelle Sammons were first to finish as they fought back from a 4-1 deficit to defeat Elena Antakova and Christi Baxley at the No. 2 line.
A&M’s Stephanie Davidson and Morgan Frank completed a bang-bang finish and clinched the point with an 8-6 victory over Tara Eckel and Maria Kalashnikova at the No. 3 line.
Chelsea Orr and Ana-Marie Constantinescu prevented the sweep, narrowly holding off the A&M duo of Tiffany Clifford and Christi Liles at the No. 1 court. The Sooners had a 6-3 lead, but A&M rallied to even the score at 6-all. After trading games, the teams played a tiebreaker. Oklahoma never trailed but could never build more than a two-point lead before finishing off the Aggies, 7-5.
“OU had a good team, and we were fortunate to win the doubles point,” Kleinecke said. “We had to come from behind at No. 2 to win, and at No. 1 we were pretty far down and ended up coming back but losing in the tiebreaker. That probably turned the tide for the match right there.”
Although Clifford and Liles weren’t able to come out on top in the doubles, they helped lead the Aggies’ charge in singles. Clifford won her first 10 games and took only an hour to dispose of Antakova, 6-0, 6-1.
Liles dropped her first game in both sets against Kalashnikova at the No. 3 line but won the next six games in each set to win 6-1, 6-1 and put the Aggies up, 3-0.
Frank clinched the win for the Aggies with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Christi Baxley at the No. 5 line before Oklahoma earned its only point as Eckel downed Druss, 7-5, 6-1 at the No. 6 spot.
“It helped us with Tiffany, Christi and Morgan coming away with some quick first sets,” Kleinecke said. “It helped solidify everything. It’s good to go ahead, especially early in the season, to take care of these matches.”
Blagodarova picked up another point for the Aggies with a 6-4, 6-3 win against Orr at No. 2.
At the No. 1 line, A&M’s Elze Potgieter and Constantinescu had not even begun their second set when Blagodarova put the Aggies up, 5-1. Potgieter came back from a 5-3 first-set deficit to take a 6-5 lead. OU evened the score at 6-all to force a tiebreaker. After five lead changes and 10 ties in the marathon-first set, Constantinescu pulled away for a 13-11 win.
Potgieter evened the match and forced a 10-point super tiebreaker after taking the second set, 6-2. Much like the first-set tiebreaker, the third-set super tiebreaker turned into a nail biter. Potgieter took the biggest lead at 5-2, but Constantinescu fought back to tie the score at 8-all. OU then took its first lead at 9-8. Potgieter won the next two points to regain the lead, but Constantinescu evened the score for the fourth time at 10-all. Potgieter went on to win the next two points, clinching the victory with a backhand winner.
“I was especially proud of Elze,” Kleinecke said. “The match was already over. It wasn’t like it was on the line. It would have been very easy for her to say, ‘This is too much,’ and not compete. She was set to win the third set tiebreaker, and that was the goal at the end of the second set. I was very proud of her mental toughness.”
The Aggies play their final non-conference match of the regular Saturday as they return home to host the 23rd-ranked Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (10-7). First serve is at 1:30 p.m. at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
“Notre Dame is another big match for us,” Kleinecke said. “It is going to be a big week for us with Notre Dame coming into our place. They have been in the top 15 for most of the season. It will be a big match for us.”
Live scoring of the match will be available at AggieAthletics.com.
No. 26 Texas A&M 6, Oklahoma 1
1. (#95) Elze Potgieter (A&M) def. Ana-Marie Constantinescu (OU), 6-7 (11), 6-2, 1-0 (10)
2. Anna Blagodarova (A&M) def. Chelsea Orr (OU), 6-4, 6-3
3. Christi Liles (A&M) def. Maria Kalashnikova (OU), 6-1, 6-1
4. Tiffany Clifford (A&M) def. Elena Antakova (OU), 6-0, 6-1
5. Morgan Frank (A&M) def. Christi Baxley (OU), 6-2, 6-3
6. Tara Eckel (OU) def. Marisa Druss (A&M), 7-5, 6-1
Doubles (A&M wins the point)
1. Constantinescu/Orr (OU) def. Clifford/Liles (A&M), 8-7 (5)
2. Blagodarova/Sammons (A&M) def. Antakova/Baxley (OU), 8-5
3. Stephanie Davidson/Frank (A&M) def. Eckel/Kalashnikova (OU), 8-6
Order of finish (D2, D3, D1, S4, S3, S5*, S6, S2, S1)
Headington Family Tennis Center (Attendance: N/A)
Team records: Texas A&M (8-4, 2-0 Big 12); Oklahoma (6-5, 0-2 Big 12)