COLLEGE STATION -- The Texas A&M women’s tennis team concludes it regular-season home schedule Wednesday as the Aggies play host to rival Texas in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown. First serve is slated for 6 p.m. at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
It will be “Senior Night” at the courts, and Aggie seniors Anna Blagodarova (Toronto, Ontario), Tiffany Clifford (Little Rock, Ark.) and Marisa Druss (Austin, Texas) will be honored prior to the match.
Several promotions also will be taking place: wear maroon and get in free; the first 100 fans will receive free Aggie tennis sling bags; Junior Aggie Club Day activities; and the Where's Wilson grand prize contest at the intermission for a chance to win an iPod Touch.
“It is going to be a fun night,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “This is a perfect opportunity for people to come out and show their support even if they haven’t been to tennis matches before. We really want to have a great crowd out here. The girls are laying their hearts out there, and the people who have been out to watch have seen that.
“Texas A&M and Texas can play Tiddledy Winks and it’s a big deal. Then you put on top of that the State Farm Lone Star Showdown points. Put on top of that, it’s Senior Night. Put on top of that, we still are in a mathematical position to get a conference championship if we take care of our business and we get a little help from Texas against Baylor, so there is a lot riding on this match.”
Possible Big 12 Championship implications are riding on the match for both teams. The Aggies are 14-6 overall and in third place in the Big 12 with an 8-1 mark. With a win against the Longhorns (14-4, 8-0 Big 12), A&M could finish in a three-way tie with Texas and Baylor (24-2, 10-0 Big 12) for the league championship if Texas defeats Baylor and A&M wins at Texas Tech in the final matches of the regular season.
A&M is coming off a 6-1 victory against No. 75 Kansas on Sunday. It marked the Aggies’ fourth consecutive win, equaling their longest winning streak of the season. Sophomore Elzé Potgieter (Bloemfontein, South Africa) is No. 93 in the national singles rankings and is 8-1 in Big 12 matches only, all at the No. 1 line. Blagodarova and Clifford are No. 59 in the national doubles rankings.
Morgan Frank is undefeated in Big 12 matches in both singles and doubles. The freshman from Oldsmar, Fla., is 9-0 in singles (2-0 at No. 4, and 7-0 at No. 5) and is riding a 10-match winning streak overall. In doubles, Frank and partner Stephanie Davidson (Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas) are 9-0 at the No. 3 line and have improved to 16-2 overall having won their last seven matches.
The Longhorns, winners of their last six matches, are led by Vanja Corovic. The 2007 Big 12 Conference Freshman and Newcomer of the Year is ranked No. 61 in the national singles rankings and No. 20 in doubles with partner Marija Milic.
“In the conference matches and against common opponents, we have had very similar results,” Kleinecke said. “That is why I say whoever plays better is going to win. They might be favored at some positions and we might be favored at other positions, but throw out all the rankings and throw out how everything has gone. A&M and Texas is a completely different animal.”
A&M defeated Texas, 6-1, in 2006, the last time the two teams met in College Station. Texas has since won the last three meetings.
Last year, Texas narrowly defeated A&M, 4-3, in Austin, with the match decided in a third-set tiebreaker in the last match standing. Texas, which went on to tie Baylor for the regular-season title with a 10-1 mark, also defeated A&M 4-3 in the semifinals of the Big 12 Championship. That match also came down to the last match standing.
“I don’t look for this match to be any different,” Kleinecke said in reference to the teams battling it down to the wire. “We need everybody to show up, and I’m sure they are telling their girls the same thing, that they need everybody to show up. If either team doesn’t come ready to play, they are going to suffer.
“I think it is going to be a fun atmosphere. That is a key thing, and being at home, I’m glad it is at home this time. Last year, you put that same scenario and you put us at home, and I think we win that match.”
The winning school receives a full point in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown standings. A&M leads Texas, 7 to 4.5, and needs only three more points to bring home the season trophy for the first time.
The Aggies conclude the regular season at Texas Tech, Friday at 5:30 p.m. A&M will serve as host of the 2008 Big 12 Tennis Championships, April 24-27. Contact the 12th Man Foundation at 979/845-2311 or 1-888-99-AGGIE for ticket information.
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