A&M Women's Tennis Gets Third Straight Big 12 Win

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M women’s tennis team won its third consecutive Big 12 Conference match and held the Oklahoma Sooners winless in league play with a 5-2 victory in front of 296 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.

The Aggies improve to 7-6 overall and 3-1 in the Big 12 after posting their 13th straight win in the series against the Sooners. Oklahoma suffers its fourth consecutive loss – all on the road – and drops to 6-9 overall and 0-4 in the Big 12.

In doubles OU’s Tara Eckel and Marie-Pier Huet’s six-match winning streak came to an abrupt end as the Aggies’ Morgan Frank (Oldsmar, Fla.) and Christi Liles (Largo, Fla.) blanked the Sooners, 8-0, at the No. 2 line.

Sheri Olivier (Topeka, Kan.) and Elzé Potgieter (Bloemfontein, South Africa) nearly duplicated the shutout at the No. 3 line to clinch the doubles point for A&M. The Aggie duo jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Peta Maree Lancaster and Kristina Radan and went on to dispose of the OU tandem, 8-1, to improve to 9-2 in dual matches.

“This was kind of a strange doubles point,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “OU was coming off winning the doubles point against Texas, and we lost all three matches at Texas. I really was a little surprised at how easy the matches went at Nos. 2 and 3. I just think that they probably had a let down. It’s just one of those deals where you’ve got to make use of it when you get it, and I think that is what we did today.”

Ana-Maria Constantinescu and Maria Kalashnikova prevented a sweep in the doubles with an 8-4 win against Janelle Cuthbertson (Perth, Australia) and Stephanie Davidson (Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas) at the No. 1 line.

Frank, who on Friday won a three-set match that Kleinecke felt should have been a straight-set win for the feisty sophomore, quickly gave the Aggies a 2-0 lead and improved to 4-0 in Big 12 matches with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Kalashnikova at the No. 2 singles line. Frank, who leads the Aggies with a 9-4 record, had her serve broken in the opening game but then won 10 consecutive games en route to her season-high fourth straight win.

“Morgan has a tendency sometimes that if she is winning easy, she kind of loses her focus a little bit,” Kleinecke said. “We had a talk before the singles match of what she needed to do. That is the first thing she came up to me [and said] after that match is that she listened, and that it sunk in on her.”

Liles followed with a 6-4, 6-3 win against Radan at the No. 3 line, where the Aggies have been struggling.

“I still don’t think Christi is playing her best, but she is putting balls in the court and giving herself a chance to win,” Kleinecke said. “It is gradually getting better and better, and that is three straight wins we’ve had at No. 3 singles. That’s been a big hole for us all year, so I’m happy that is starting to turn around.”

Although Liles had given the Aggies a 3-0 lead, the Sooners were making things interesting as they held leads at No. 1 and No. 5 and were on the verge of forcing a third set at No. 6. Oklahoma also had lost a closely contested first set at No. 4 but remained in striking distance in the second set.

Huet put the Sooners on the scoreboard after finishing off Davidson, 6-3, 6-4 at the No. 5 line before Lauren Santacroce (Spring, Texas) clinched the winning point for A&M, holding off Lancaster, 7-5, 6-3, at No. 4.

Constantinescu, who entered the match 10-2 at the No. 1 line, snapped Potgieter’s team-leading five-match winning streak and handed the junior her first Big 12 loss with a 6-4, 6-2 victory. It was the final point for the Sooners as Olivier then finished off Eckel, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 at No. 6 to cap the win for the Aggies.

“I feel like we just haven’t hit on all cylinders yet, “Kleinecke said. “I still feel like there is more that we can do, and it is just a matter of us laying it out there and trying to keep working on that. I’m hoping with this young group that … they are going to peak towards the end of the year. That is what you hope for, and that is what we are shooting for.”

A&M begins a two-match road swing Friday as the Aggies take on No. 58 Nebraska Friday in Lincoln and then drive over to Ames, Iowa, to face the Iowa State Cyclones on Saturday.

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