NOTRE DAME, IN -- Texas A&M’s Anna Lubinsky pulled off two of the biggest victories of her career with highly ranked wins in both singles and doubles, but it wasn’t enough as the Aggies fell to No. 2 Notre Dame, 5-2, today inside the Eck Tennis Pavilion.
No. 23 A&M drops to 10-2 on the season and falls one short of tying the school record of nine consecutive wins. Despite the loss, A&M is still tied for the school record for the best start after 12 matches, as the 1988, 1997, 2001 and 2002 squads also went 10-2 to start the season.
Notre Dame (11-1) wins its record-breaking 26th consecutive home match, a streak that dates back to Feb. 26, 2005. The Irish surpass the original record, which went from Sept. 24, 1979, to Sept. 25, 1982.
“One of the things about Notre Dame is that they just don’t beat themselves,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “They get ball after ball in. They were very poised, and that is why they are where they are.
Lubinsky and partner Nicki Mechem, ranked No. 34 in doubles, extended their winning streak to nine and pulled off their biggest victory as a pair, defeating No. 15 Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft, 8-6, at No. 2.
The Irish, however, had already clinched the doubles point with victories at the No. 1 and No. 3 courts. Notre Dame had overcome a 5-2 deficit to win at the No. 1 line, and it proved to be the difference in capturing the point and giving the Irish a 1-0 lead. The fifth-ranked team of twin sisters Catrina Thompson and Christian Thompson trailed the Aggies’ Tiffany Clifford and Sarah Foster, 5-2, at No. 1, but went on a 6-1 run to complete the comeback victory.
Notre Dame clinched the doubles point at No. 3, where Cosmina Ciobanu and Kali Krisik downed Anna Blagodarova and Michelle Sammons, 8-3.
“We had our opportunities that we just didn’t step up and take,” Kleinecke said. “The doubles point was so big. We started out and had very good fire, but we just didn’t continue on. You can’t let a good team have a second chance.”
Notre Dame had already won the match and was up, 5-1, when Lubinsky closed out a singles victory over 16th-ranked Catrina Thompson. It was Lubinsky’s 100th career victory, and it bettered Lubinsky’s previous highest ranked victory, which came last week as she defeated No. 23 Ana Cetnik of TCU in straight sets.
Lubinsky, playing No. 1 singles, had dropped the first set, 6-4, but came back to even the match with a 6-3 second-set win. Lubinsky built a 4-1 lead in the third set when Thompson retired with a shoulder injury.
“Anna is just a fighter,” Kleinecke said. “She is going to sit out there all day long if she has to in order to come away with the match. She puts herself in that position, and it is a perfect way of playing. That is a key way, and we can all learn from her.”
The Irish had jumped out to a 2-0 lead at the start of singles as Cosmina Ciobanu improved to 12-0 in dual matches with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Nicki Mechem at No. 5 singles.
Blagodarova put the Aggies on the scoreboard with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Kelcy Tefft at No. 4, but the Irish went back up, 3-1, as Buck ended Clifford’s seven-match winning streak with a 6-4, 6-1 victory at the No. 6 line.
Colleen Rielley, ranked No. 73, clinched the win for Notre Dame, holding off Foster 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 at No. 3. The loss snapped Foster’s career-best eight-match winning streak.
The Irish got their final victory at the No. 2 line, where Christian Thompson downed 36th-ranked Elze Potgieter, 7-5, 6-2, to put Notre Dame ahead, 5-1.
“I don’t think this was by any means a bad match on our part, but it is a match that we need to learn a lot from. This is a match that is a winnable match. We need to realize that. If we play a team like this, or play this team again, that we will be ready to take advantage of those opportunities.
The Aggies take on No. 25 Michigan Sunday in Ann Arbor. First serve is at 10 a.m. (CST). Notre Dame takes on Texas Saturday, the last team to defeat the Irish on their home court.
Live scoring of all A&M women’s tennis matches is available at AggieAthletics.com.
No. 2 Notre Dame 5, No. 23 Texas A&M 2
1. (#65) Anna Lubinsky (A&M) def. (#16) Catrina Thompson (ND), 4-6, 6-3, 4-1 (retired)
2. Christian Thompson (ND) def. (#36) Elze Potgieter (A&M). 7-5, 6-2
3. (#73) Colleen Rielley (ND) def. Sarah Foster (A&M), 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
4. Anna Blagodarova (A&M) def. Kelcy Tefft (ND), 6-4, 6-1
5. Cosmina Ciobanu (ND) def. Nicki Mechem (A&M), 6-1, 6-1
6. Brook Buck (ND) def. Tiffany Clifford (A&M), 6-4, 6-1
Doubles (ND wins the point)
1. (#5) Thompson/Thompson (ND) def. Clifford/Foster (A&M), 8-6
2. (#25) Lubinsky/Mechem (A&M) def. (#15) Buck/Tefft (ND), 8-6
3. Ciobanu/Kali Krisik (ND) def. Blagodarova/Michelle Sammons (A&M), 8-3
Order of finish (D1, D3, D2, S5, S4, S6, S3*, S2, S1)
Eck Tennis Pavilion (Attendance: n/a)
Team records: Texas A&M (10-2); Notre Dame (11-1)