COLLEGE STATION -- No. 21 Texas put a damper on Texas A&M’s “Senior Night” and picked up a full point in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown, defeating the Aggies, 5-2, in their final home match of the regular season.
With a season-high 806 fans at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center, No. 32 A&M swept the three doubles matches but quickly fell behind in singles after losing five of six first sets.
“We were fired up and ready to go and started off the match in good shape,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “We handled the emotions of the senior day and really played well in the doubles and took it to them.
“The biggest difference…is the fact that we lost five of the first six sets [in singles]. That is where you lose momentum in the match, and what we did in the doubles just kind of didn’t mean anything.”
After recognizing seniors Anna Blagodarova (Toronto, Ontario), Tiffany Clifford (Little Rock, Ark.) and Marisa Druss (Austin, Texas), the Aggies began the match by sweeping the doubles point for the third consecutive match and the fourth time in the last five matches.
A&M’s Christi Liles (Largo, Fla.) and Elzé Potgieter (Bloemfontein, South Africa) jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Maggie Mello and Courtney Zauft at the No. 2 line and went on to win 8-2 to extend their winning streak to five.
The other two courts were unable to hold leads. At the No. 1 line, the 59th-ranked tandem of Blagodarova and Clifford built a 4-1 lead against 20th-ranked Vanja Corovic and Marija Milic, but the Texas tandem fought back and tied the score at 6-all.
Meanwhile at the No. 3 line, A&M’s Stephanie Davidson (Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas) and Morgan Frank (Oldsmar, Fla.) were in jeopardy of having their seven-match winning streak snapped and suffering their first loss in Big 12 play after spotting Stephanie Davison and Caroline Larsson a 3-0 lead. Trailing 6-3, the Aggie duo used a three-game run to tie the score for the first time at 6-all.
With both courts tied and the doubles point still up for grabs, Blagodarova and Clifford regrouped and won the next two games to win the match and clinch the point.
Davidson and Frank won a fourth straight game to take their first lead at 7-6. Davison and Larsson won the next game to force a tiebreaker. The Aggies jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the tiebreaker en route to a 7-4 win, completing the sweep and improving to 10-0 in Big 12 matches.
Larsson jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Clifford at the start of singles and went on to take the first set, 6-3, at the No. 4 line. Clifford won the first three games of the second set, but Larsson won the next six games to complete the straight-set victory and tie the score at 1-1.
Mello gave the Longhorns a 2-1 lead with a 6-2, 6-3 victory against Davidson at the No. 6 line. Davison then defeated Blagodarova, 6-4, 6-4, winning six of the last seven games of the match, to put Texas up, 3-1.
“We give away three [matches] in straight sets, and then our backs are against the wall,” Kleinecke said.
Liles picked up A&M’s only win in singles, defeating Zauft, 6-4, 6-3, at the No. 2 line. It was Zauft’s only Big 12 loss in nine matches.
“Christi has really been playing well for us, and I knew that was a good, winnable match for her,” Kleinecke said. “She just stepped up and dictated the play.”
The final two matches would be decided in three sets.
In a battle of ranked players, 93rd-ranked Potgieter came back to win her second set, 6-4, after dropping the first set, 6-4, to 61st-ranked Corovic at the No. 1 line. Corovic then jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the final set and went on to clinch the winning point for the Longhorns with a 6-3 win.
Frank, who entered the match 9-0 in Big 12 matches and riding a 10-match winning streak overall, dropped a 7-5 first-set decision to Lancaster at the No. 5 line, but then tied the match by taking the second set, 6-3. Lancaster then won the first five games of the third set and concluded the evening with a 6-1 win.
“We still had a chance and did a good job of coming up and winning the second sets, but we had opportunities in both of these first sets to take it,” Kleinecke said. “This is a match that we are going to go back and look at later and think we had our opportunities. We just didn’t take advantage of it.”
Texas improves to 15-4 overall and remains undefeated in the Big 12 at 9-0 with matches against Texas Tech and co-leader Baylor remaining.
A&M, which was looking to mathematically stay in the running for a Big 12 championship by knocking off the defending co-champion Longhorns, falls to 14-7 overall and 8-2 in the Big 12. The Aggies conclude the regular season at Texas Tech on Friday. First serve is at 5:30 p.m. at the McLeod Tennis Center in Lubbock.
Regardless of the outcome of A&M’s final match, the Aggies will be the No. 3 seed at the Big 12 Championships, which they host, April 24-27 at the Mitchell Tennis Center. For ticket information, call 1-888-99-AGGIE.
Live scoring of all A&M women’s matches is available at AggieAthletics.com.
No. 21 Texas 5, No. 32 Texas A&M 2
1. (#61) Vanja Corovic (UT) def. (#93) Elzé Potgieter (A&M), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
2. Christi Liles (A&M) def. Courtney Zauft (UT), 6-4, 6-3
3. Stephanie Davison (UT) def. Anna Blagodarova (A&M), 6-4, 6-4
4. Caroline Larsson (UT) def. Tiffany Clifford (A&M), 6-3, 6-3
5. Sarah Lancaster (UT) def. Morgan Frank (A&M), 7-5, 3-6, 6-1
6. Maggie Mello (UT) def. Stephanie Davidson (A&M), 6-2, 6-3
Doubles (A&M wins the point)
1. (#59) Blagodarova/Clifford (A&M) def. (#20) Corovic/ Marija Milic (UT), 8-6
2. Liles/Potgieter (A&M) def. Mello/Zauft (UT), 8-2
3. Davidson/Frank (A&M) def. Davison/Larsson (UT), 8-7 (4)
Order of finish (D2, D1, D3, S4, S6, S3, S2, S1*, S5)
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center (Attendance: 806)
Team records: Texas A&M (14-7, 8-2); Texas (15-4, 9-0 Big 12)
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