STANFORD, Calif.- The Texas A&M women’s tennis team earned a trip to the second round of the NCAA Championships by defeating No. 38 Washington, 4-1, in the opening round today at the at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
The No. 31 Aggies, who are making their sixth consecutive second round appearance, will face No. 4 seed and fourth-ranked Stanford Saturday at 2 p.m. (CDT). The Cardinal, who have won five of the last seven national championships and 15 of 26 total, defeated Boston, 4-0, to advance.
“This is exciting,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said about the match-up. “You get a chance to play Stanford, who has the history that they have and knowing what they are bringing to the table. It is a chance to play them at their home place. I think the players are excited about it. This is what we wanted to come here and do, and in order to advance on, we knew we were going to have to get through them. This is our opportunity to get out there and see what we can do.”
The Aggies, who are making an unprecedented ninth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championships, advanced to the second round by defeating the Huskies, who were making their first appearance since 2005.
A&M never trailed in any of the three doubles matches, jumping out to 3-1 leads at the No. 1 and No. 2 lines. Stephanie Davidson (Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas) and Morgan Frank (Oldsmar, Fla.) won their first four games at the No. 3 line before allowing the Husky duo of Aleksandra Malovic and Vanja Radunovic to get on the board.
UW cut the Aggies’ lead to 5-3 at No. 3, before Davidson and Frank won three of the next four games to win the match, 8-4, and extend their winning streak to 12.
UW fought back on the other two courts, tying the match at 3-3 at both lines. A&M’s 51st-ranked senior tandem of Anna Blagodarova (Toronto, Ontario) and Tiffany Clifford (Little Rock, Ark.) then reeled of five straight games against Joyce Ardies and Tara Simpson to win the No. 1 line, 8-3, and clinch the doubles point.
The No. 2 doubles match was suspended with A&M’s Christi Liles (Largo, Fla.) and Elzé Potgieter (Bloemfontein, South Africa) holding a narrow 7-6 lead against Kelsey Anonsen and Venise Chan.
“One of our goals was to get a good start in the match, and I really thought we did that,” Kleinecke said. “Giving Washington credit, they didn’t give up. We had chances to be up 4-1 at No. 1 doubles, 4-1 at No. 2 doubles and we were already up 4-0 at No. 3 doubles and should have been up 5-0, then it got to be 5-1. Washington started clawing back and made a match of it. And then all of a sudden it is 3-all at No. 1 and 3-all at No. 2. So I give credit to Washington for not ever giving up and to keep fighting, because I felt like we were dominating at first.
“I also give credit to our girls, that when they realized they needed to just step up another level, they did. Sometimes you have to do that. I think we just had to shake a little rust off from a competitive standpoint, after the conference tournament and having been through finals.”
UW tied the match at 1-1 at the start of singles as Chan, ranked No. 37 in nation and an at-large selection in the NCAA Singles Championships, topped 104th-ranked Potgieter, 6-2, 6-1, at the No. 1 line. Although the Huskies won the first set on three courts overall, Chan’s point would be the only one they could muster.
Blagodarova, going for her 99th career singles victory, quickly regained the lead for the Aggies. She won the first 10 games against Simpson en route to a 6-0, 6-3 victory at the No. 3 line.
Davidson put the Aggies up, 3-1, and extended her singles winning streak to a team-leading four matches with a 6-3, 6-1 victory against Allison Rainey at the No. 6 line.
Liles never trailed in on her court and went on to capture the match-clinching point, downing Malovic, 6-3, 6-3, at the No. 2 line.
Play was suspended on the remaining two courts. Frank had dropped a 7-5 tiebreaker to Ardies in the first set at the No. 5 line, and the match was tied at 2-2 when the match was halted.
After dropping the first set, 6-2, to Anonsen, Clifford came back to take the second set, 6-4, at No. 5. Clifford was up, 2-0, in the third set when play was stopped.
The Aggies improve to 17-8 on the year, while Washington ends its season with a 12-10 record.
Stanford, 1-0 all-time against the Aggies, is 20-4 entering Saturday’s second-round match against A&M.
No. 31 Texas A&M 4, No. 38 Washington 1
1. (#37) Venise Chan (UW) def. (#104) Elzé Potgieter (A&M), 6-4, 6-1
2. Christi Liles (A&M) def. Aleksandra Malovic (UW), 6-3, 6-3
3. Anna Blagodarova (A&M) def. Tara Simpson (UW), 6-0, 6-3
4. Morgan Frank (A&M) vs. Joyce Ardies (UW), 6-7 (5), 2-2, suspended
5. Tiffany Clifford (A&M) vs. Kelsey Anonsen (UW), 2-6, 6-4, 2-0, suspended
6. Stephanie Davidson (A&M) def. Allison Rainey (UW), 6-3, 6-1
Doubles (A&M wins the point)
1. (#51) Blagodarova/Clifford/ (A&M) def. Ardies/Simpson (UW), 8-4
2. Liles/Potgieter (A&M) vs. Anonsen/Chan (UW), 7-6, suspended
3. Davidson/Frank (A&M) def. Malovic/Vanja Radunovic (UW), 8-4
Order of finish (D3, D1, S1, S3, S6, S2*)
Taube Family Tennis Stadium (Attendance: N/A)
Team records: Texas A&M (17-8); Washington (12-10)