COLLEGE STATION -- The Texas A&M women’s tennis team returns home Friday to play host to No. 25 Auburn. First serve is slated for 6 p.m. at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
The 27th-ranked Aggies are 2-1 after opening the season with come-from-behind 4-3 victories against both No. 28 Denver and No. 60 Saint Mary’s before falling to No. 10 Southern California, 4-1, Sunday in the second round of the ITA Kick-off Weekend in Los Angeles.
“We’ve already had a lot of different situations thrown at this young group,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “It always helps you when you have faced all these different situations, whether you lose the doubles point and have to make up for that, or
you win the doubles point but have to come back in singles to win the match. We’ve faced every gamut, so really I feel like we are farther ahead than where I was thinking we were going to be.
“I’m excited about their poise, composure and attitude and the way they have handled the different situations. I don’t think that we’ve played that well. I think it is more of the heart and the poise that they have shown.”
A&M, which climbed two spots in the ITA national rankings released Tuesday, is led by junior Elzé Potgieter, who posted her first ranked win of the season with a 7-6, 7-6 victory over No. 25 Alex Poorta in A&M’s 4-3 win against Saint Mary’s. Sophomores Morgan Frank (No. 2 singles) and Stephanie Davidson (No. 6 singles) are each 2-1 in singles, tying for the team lead for most wins in dual matches. Frank and Davidson also are partners in doubles at the No. 2 position and are 2-1coming off an 8-5 victory against No. 53 Alison Ramos and Maria Sanchez of USC.
Auburn (1-2) opened its season with a 5-2 loss at No. 8 Georgia Tech and then defeated No. 39 Louisville in the opening round of the ITA Kick-off. The Tigers narrowly missed an opportunity to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships after falling at No. 11 Clemson, 4-3, in the ITA Kick-off second round on Sunday.
“I do not know much about [Auburn] other than that they are a very good team,” Kleinecke said. “They had a great team last year and pretty much have everybody back. They ought to be very experienced, and it is going to be a battle.”
The Tigers, who list only one freshman on their squad, have three nationally ranked singles players: No. 6 Fani Chifchieva, who advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Singles Championship last year, No. 41 Melissa Koning and No. 86 Alex Haney. Haney improved to 3-0 in dual matches this season after upsetting No. 10 Josipa Bek of Clemson. Haney opened the spring season with a win against No. 23 Iraina Falconi of Georgia Tech.
“We haven’t seen Auburn in two years, but I know that they are a very seasoned team in a tough conference,” Kleinecke added. “They’ve been battle-tested and they are going to come in here and be a tough team for us to handle, but I think we are up for the challenge. It will be fun to find out how we stack up.”
A&M and Auburn have met only once in the history of the two programs. Then No. 29 A&M defeated the 75th-ranked Tigers, 5-2, on Feb. 10, 2007, in College Station.
The Aggies play their second consecutive Southeastern Conference, top-25 opponent Sunday as A&M takes on No. 23 LSU to conclude a two-match home stand. Match time is 1 p.m. at the Mitchell Tennis Center.
2009 NCAA Tennis Championships: Texas A&M will host the 2009 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships, May 14-25, at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station, Texas. Tickets can be purchased online at 12ManFoundation.com or by calling 1-888-99-AGGIE.