A&M Women's Tennis To Battle Washington In NCAA Tennis Tournament Friday

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COLLEGE STATION -- Aggies Headed West for 1st & 2nd Rounds — Texas A&M earned its ninth consecutive bid to the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships and will head to Stanford, Calif., for first- and second-round action May 9-10. The No. 31 Aggies (16-8), an at-large selection from the Big 12 Conference, meet No. 38 Washington (12-9), an at-large entry from the Pacific 10 Conference, at 10 a.m. PDT (noon Central) Friday in the first round at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium on the Stanford University campus.

In other first-round action at Stanford, the No. 4 seed Cardinal (19-4), the automatic qualifiers from the Pac 10, face Boston University (11-7), an automatic qualifier from the America East Conference, Friday at 1 p.m. (3 p.m. CDT). The first-round winners meet Saturday at 12 p.m. (2 p.m. CDT) to determine who advances to the Round of 16 to be played at the University of Tulsa’s Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla., beginning May 15.

A&M is a No. 17-32 seed in the 64-team tournament and is the No. 2 seed at the Stanford site. Washington is a No. 33-48 seed overall and the No. 3 seed at Stanford. Boston is a No. 49-64 seed overall and is the No. 4 seed at Stanford.

The Stanford Ticket Office is offering two options for the NCAA first and second rounds. Fans can purchase two-day packets, which include all three matches, for $12 for a reserve seat, $10 for adult general admission and $5 for student/child/senior citizen general admission. Single-day tickets are $8 for a reserve seat, $6 for adult general admission and $4 for student/child/senior citizen general admission. Students must show a valid school ID. For additional ticket information, contact the Stanford Ticket Office at 800-STANFORD

A&M's Road to the NCAAs — The Aggies went 16-8 during the regular season, notching nine wins against ranked opponents, including three wins against teams in the NCAA tournament field — LSU, UNLV and Wake Forest. All eight losses were against teams that are seeded in the NCAA tournament, including losses to No. 2 seed Georgia, No. 5 seed Baylor and No. 16 seed Fresno State.

The Aggies, who were ranked as high as No. 25 in the nation during the regular season, went 9-2 in the Big 12 Conference to finish third behind regular-season and conference tournament-champion Baylor and Texas.

A&M's History in the NCAAs — Texas A&M is making its ninth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and 14th overall since the first championship was held in 1982. The Aggies, who received automatic NCAA tournament berths in 1986 and 2004 and were seeded an all-time high No. 12 in 2004, are 11-14 all-time in postseason play.

This is the first time since the Aggies traveled to Notre Dame in 2001 that A&M has been sent out of state for first and second rounds. Last year, A&M was sent to Baylor in Waco, Texas, for the second consecutive year. A&M defeated in-state rival TCU, 4-1, in the first round and then fell to conference-foe Baylor, 4-1, in the second round.

In 2006, A&M was an at-large team and faced No. 22 Arizona State in the first round in Waco. After winning two of three doubles matches, A&M went on to win three of the first four completed singles matches to clinch the win and advance to the second round. No. 13 seed Baylor eliminated A&M, 4-1, in the second round.

In 2005, A&M received an at-large berth and defeated Nevada-Las Vegas, 4-0, in the first round played at the University of Texas' Penick-Allison Tennis Center in Austin, Texas. The Aggies were eliminated in the second round as the Longhorns topped A&M, 4-1, en route to their national runner-up finish.

In 2004, the Aggies received an automatic berth after coming from behind to top 10th-ranked and Big 12 regular-season champion Texas, 4-3, in the finals of the Big 12 Tournament. It was the Aggies' first automatic NCAA invitation in the eight-year history of the conference. A&M was awarded an all-time high No. 12 seed in the 64-team bracket and was selected to host first and second rounds for the second consecutive year and the third time overall.

A&M took advantage of playing at home, racing past SWAC automatic qualifier Southern, 4-0, in the first round. The Aggies faced former Southwest Conference-foe SMU in the second round, and after dropping the doubles point, A&M won the first four singles matches to send the Aggies to the Round of 16 for the first time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams.

The Aggies were eliminated by fifth-seeded and No. 7-ranked Clemson, 4-1, in Athens, Ga.

A&M was selected to host and was the No. 2 seed at the regional site in the 2003 tournament. The Aggies disposed of LSU, 4-0, to advance to the second round. A&M then fell to the nation's No. 4 seed, California, 4-0.

The Aggies first appeared in the 16-team tournament in 1986 and were eliminated by eventual runner-up Southern California, 8-1, in the first round in Austin. A&M returned to the Championships in 1989 and fell to Arizona, 5-1, in the first round in Gainesville, Fla.

A&M was selected to host for the first time in 1996 and took advantage of the home site, then the Omar Smith Tennis Center. The No. 2 seed in the eight-team Southwest Regional, the Aggies defeated Baylor, 5-1, and then downed No. 3 seed Arkansas, 5-3, to advance to the regional finals. A&M faced No. 1-seed Vanderbilt for the right to advance to the Round of 16 and fell, 5-3.

A&M made a second consecutive appearance in the 1997 NCAAs and defeated host Rice, 5-3, in the first round of the Southwest Regional played at Jake Hess Tennis Stadium in Houston. The Aggies were eliminated by LSU, 5-0, in the regional semifinals.

The Aggies returned to the NCAAs for a third straight year in 1998 and fell to Houston, 5-3, in the opening round of the Southwest Regional in Baton Rouge, La.

After missing the 1999 tournament, A&M received a bid to the 2000 tournament and was sent to Berkeley, Calif. The Aggies topped Kentucky, 5-4, in the first round and then fell to the host Golden Bears, 5-0, in the regional semifinals.

A&M fell in the first round of the 2001 and 2002 NCAA regionals, falling to Tulane, 4-3, at Notre Dame and then dropping a 4-1 decision to TCU in Austin in 2002.

Series Record vs. Regional Participants — A&M is a combined 1-1 against the three teams competing at in the first rounds at Stanford. The Aggies defeated Washington, 8-1, in the teams’ only meeting in 1984. A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke has never faced the Huskies.

In the only meeting between Stanford and A&M, the Cardinal topped A&M, 5-1, in 1998 in College Station.

A&M has never faced Boston.

Regional Team Notes — Washington (12-9, 2-6 Pac 10) is ranked No. 38 and is making its first NCAA appearance since 2005. The Huskies, who are 3-7 against the 64-team tournament field this season, are making their third overall appearance, having reached the second round in 2005 and reaching the quarterfinals in 2001 and 2004.

Washington began the dual season ranked No. 70 but quickly climbed and has been ranked as high as No. 34. The Huskies’ biggest upset was a 4-3 victory over 12th-ranked Arizona State on April 5 in Seattle. It marked their first win against a top-25 opponent in three years.

UW ended the regular season with a 4-3 loss at No. 42 Washington State on April 19.

Freshman Venise Chan leads the Huskies and is No. 37 in the ITA national singles rankings. She is 20-9 overall and went 14-6 in dual matches, all at the No. 1 line, and received an at-large invitational to the NCAA Singles Championships.

Freshman Joyce Ardies was a freshman on the Tulane tennis team when Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005. She joined the Green Wave in their evacuation to College Station, where the team trained and attended classes at Texas A&M during the fall semester. Tulane administrators cut the women’s tennis program in the spring, and Ardies transferred to UW.

Stanford (19-4) is the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Championship. The Cardinal, who went 7-1 in the Pac 10 to earn the league’s automatic NCAA berth, is making its 27th consecutive NCAA appearance and has won 15 of 26 NCAA team titles, including five of the last seven. They have won 22 of their last 23 NCAA tournament matches, suffering their first postseason loss in four years after losing to UCLA, 4-2, in the 2007 semifinals.

Stanford enters the 2008 tournament having won 13 of its last 14 matches. Its only loss in conference play was a 4-3 setback at No. 13 Arizona State on March 28. Losses to No. 11 California and No. 11 UCLA on Feb. 20 and Feb. 29, respectively, did not count as conference matches, and the other loss was to defending national champion and fourth-ranked Georgia Tech on Feb. 9.

All six of Stanford’s singles players are ranked in the ITA top 100, including No. 3 Hilary Barte and No. 13 Jessica Nguyen, who both were invited to the NCAA Singles Championships. Celia Durkin is No. 65 and is an alternate in the NCAA singles championships. Lindsay Burdette is No. 66, and Whitney Deacon and Carolyn McVeigh are 68 and 95, respectively.

Only a freshman, Barte is 20-3 in dual matches, including 17-0 at the No. 1 line. She is 18-4 against nationally ranked opponents. She also has been selected to compete in the NCAA Doubles Championships with Burdette. The duo is 15-10 in dual matches and ranked No. 9 in the nation.

Boston is making its 10th consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships. The Terriers are 1-4 against the tournament field. The one win was a 4-3 decision against Yale. Losses were to Florida International, 6-1; Temple, 4-3; Ohio State, 7-0; and Furman, 4-3.

Boston is coming off a 4-2 victory over Binghamton in the finals of the America East championship match to win the Terrier’s 15th consecutive league title and 10th straight NCAA tournament berth. Last year, Boston fell to Southern California, 4-0, in the NCAA first round.

A&M Coach Bobby Kleinecke — Two-time Big 12 Coach of the Year Bobby Kleinecke enters the NCAA Championships with a 373-241 (.607) record in his 23rd season at the helm of the Aggies. In 1986, Kleinecke's inaugural season of his college coaching career and at A&M, he led the Aggies to the Southwest Conference title and was named the SWC Coach of the Year as A&M advanced to the NCAA Championship for the first time in school history. In 1996, he was voted the SWC Coach of the Year and in 2002, Kleinecke was honored as the Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year in the Southwest Region after leading A&M to a record-23 wins. In 2003, A&M tied for its first Big 12 regular-season title as the Aggies and Baylor went 9-2. In 2004, Kleinecke's team captured its first Big 12 tournament championship, advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 and finished the season with a record-24 victories. Under Kleinecke's leadership, the Aggies are making their 14th NCAA appearance, including their ninth consecutive appearance.

Climbing the Charts — Anna Blagodarova needs only two singles victories to become the third player in A&M history to reach 100 career wins. The senior ranks third on the A&M charts with a 98-51 all-time record. Nicki Mechem (2003-05, 2007) is the all-time leader with 113 career victories, and Anna Lubinsky (2004-07) is second with 109.

Senior Tiffany Clifford has 80 singles victories during her career and needs one more to move into a three-way tie with Roberta Spencer (2001-04) and Leah Killen (1999-2002) for 10th place.

Blagodarova and Clifford also are ranked in the top 10 for career doubles wins. The seniors have accumulated 92 wins apiece and are in a three-way tie for fourth place with Nancy Dingwall (1994-97). Mechem is the all-time leader with 117.

Freshman Stephanie Davidson has 31 doubles wins this season, tying Mechem for fifth place in the single-season records. Mechem reached 31 wins in both the 2006-07 and 2003-04 seasons. Vanne Akagi holds the all-time record with 42 in 1985-86.

Freshman Christi Liles leads the Aggies with 28 singles wins, putting her in a eight-way tie for ninth in the A&M singles-season records.

Graduation Day for Druss — Senior Marisa Druss will miss Texas A&M's graduation ceremony this weekend, instead hoping to celebrate on the tennis court as A&M heads to the NCAA Championship first and second rounds at Stanford. The management major and two-time Academic All-Big 12 first-team member has completed bachelor's degree in business administration in four years.

Aggies Have Double Vision — A&M won the crucial doubles point in 10 of 11 Big 12 Conference matches and in 19 of 24 matches overall. The Aggies are 14-5 when taking the doubles point and 2-6 when dropping the point. The freshman duo of Stephanie Davidson and Morgan Frank is 20-2 at the No. 3 line, leading A&M to a 24-2 mark overall at that spot. The Aggies are 16-6 when No. 3 doubles wins. Davidson leads the Aggies with 21 doubles wins in dual matches.

The doubles team of Anna Blagodarova and Tiffany Clifford is ranked No. 51 nationally.

Four Players Reach 20-Win Mark— Four players on the Texas A&M squad have posted 20 or more wins in singles matches, including freshman Christi Liles, who has a team-leading 28 wins. Her 28 wins ties for ninth in the A&M single season records.

Sophomore Elzé Potgieter, who plays No. 1 singles for the Aggies, is 22-12. She went 28-12 as a freshman.

With a 20-17 record, senior Anna Blagodarova has surpassed 20 wins every year during her four-year career. In addition, senior Tiffany Clifford is 20-15, marking the second time she has reached the 20-win benchmark during her career.

Freshman Morgan Frank needs only one more win to become the fifth player to reach the 20-win mark this season.

Six players have 20 or more wins in doubles, led by freshman Stephanie Davidson, who is 31-5. Blagodarova has 28 wins and freshman Christi Liles is at 23. Clifford and sophomore Michelle Sammons have 21 doubles wins apiece, and Frank, who joined the Aggies in January, is 20-2.

A&M to Host 2009 NCAA Championships — Texas A&M’s George P. Mitchell Tennis Center will serve as the host site of the men’s and women’s NCAA tennis championships, May 15-25, 2009. Texas A&M hosted the men’s NCAA championships in 2002 and 2005.

Passing Shots — All eight of A&M’s losses are against teams that will be participating in the NCAA Championships. Four of A&M’s losses were by the score of 4-3 (TCU, Florida International, Notre Dame and Texas)…A&M is 10-8 against teams currently ranked in the ITA top 75. No. 27 LSU is currently the highest ranked team A&M has defeated this year, topping the then-No. 34 Tigers, 6-1, in Baton Rouge, La., on Feb. 10…A&M’s 6-1 win against then-No. 19 Wake Forest on March 1 in College Station is the highest ranked win at the time of the match. The Demon Deacons are No. 46 in the ITA rankings released April 28…The doubles team of freshmen Stephanie Davidson and Morgan Frank went 11-0 in Big 12 matches and is 20-2 overall, all at the No. 3 line…A&M will lose three seniors — all four-year letterwinners — at the end of the season: Anna Blagodarova, Tiffany Clifford and Marisa Druss. They have led A&M to the NCAA second round every year and collected a total of six singles and two doubles Big 12 individual titles during their careers… Georgia Tech is the defending NCAA champion and is one of only six teams to have won a national title during the 26-year history of the NCAA Championships: Stanford (15), Florida (4), Georgia (2), Southern California (2), Texas (2) and Georgia Tech (1)...This is the third time both the men's and women's NCAA championships will be held at the same site...University of Tulsa Michael D. Case Tennis Stadium will host the team and individual championships, May 15-27... For the first time in seven years, A&M will not be represented in the NCAA individual championships.

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