COLLEGE STATION -- The Texas A&M women’s tennis team will be fighting to stay alive in the race for at least a share of the Big 12 Conference title Wednesday when the Aggies close out their regular season home schedule against No. 5 Baylor. First serve is at 6 p.m. at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
Anyone wearing maroon will be admitted free, and the first 200 students will receive a free pair of Crocs. In addition, the Where’s Wilson grand prize of a $500 Mac Resources gift certificate will be given away.
“The start of the match is going to be key, and we need the support of the 12th Man to have a great atmosphere,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “The Aggie crowd helps our cause so much, and even though we are the underdogs in this match, I feel like if we can get some help early in the match, we can make this very interesting.”
The Aggies (11-8, 7-1 Big 12) could shake up the conference standings with a victory against the undefeated Lady Bears (16-4, 7-0 Big 12), who have won or shared the Big 12 regular season title in each of the last five years. A&M is in third place behind Baylor and Texas (12-6, 8-1 Big 12) with three matches remaining.
“Mathematically we still have that possibility for at least a share of the Big 12 title,” Kleinecke said. “There is a lot we are playing for, and we are going to give it our best shot.”
A&M has won seven consecutive conference matches after dropping its Big 12 opener at Texas on March 7. The Aggies took a break from league play last weekend and fell to No. 20 Michigan and No. 4 Notre Dame by identical 6-1 scores, both on the road.
Aggie sophomore Morgan Frank is undefeated in Big 12 play with an 8-0 ledger at the No. 2 singles line. Freshman Janelle Cuthbertson is 4-0 in conference play, and sophomore Christi Liles also has been on a roll, having won five of her last six Big 12 singles matches at the No. 3 line.
Freshman Sheri Olivier and junior Elzé Potgieter lead the Aggies in doubles play, where they are 6-2 in Big 12 matches and 13-3 overall at the No. 3 line. Frank and Liles are 5-1 together at the No. 2 doubles line in conference play only.
Baylor boasts four nationally ranked singles players, who are a combined 22-0 in Big 12 matches. Junior Lenka Broosova is No. 31 in this week’s Campbell’s College Tennis Rankings, and sophomores Jelena Stanivuk and Taylor Ormond are No. 44 and 46, respectively. Junior transfer Csilla Borsanyi, who was named the Big 12 Women’s Tennis Player of the Week on Monday, is No. 64.
In doubles, the duo of Borsanyi and Broosova is No. 8, and the tandem of Ormond and Stanivuk is No. 64.
Baylor is riding a 10-match winning streak, including a 5-2 victory against then-No. 3 Notre Dame. The Lady Bears have not lost since falling 4-3 at No. 8 California, 4-3, on March 10. In its most recent outing, Baylor defeated No. 31 Texas, 6-1, Saturday in Waco to take sole possession of first place in the conference standings.
“Baylor is a very, very good team,” Kleinecke said. “They are coming in here with very high aspirations, and I think we are going to see their best. We still haven’t had that match where everybody has competed at the highest level on the same night, and I’m hoping this is going to be the time for us do that and to really come out here and give them our best shot.”
A&M holds a 20-14 lead in the all-time series against the Lady Bears, but Baylor has won the last seven meetings and 12 of the last 14. Last year, then No. 4 Baylor topped A&M, 5-2, in Waco.
A&M closes out the regular season schedule at Kansas State and Kansas, Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The Big 12 Tennis Championships will be held April 23-26 at Headington Family Tennis Center in Norman, Okla.
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.