AUSTIN -- Texas freshman Vanja Corovic's smash of an overhead lob put the finishing touches on No. 41 Texas' thrilling 4-3 come-from-behind victory over No. 21 Texas A&M Wednesday afternoon in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown at UT's Penick-Allison Tennis Center.
The victory keeps Texas in position to clinch a share of the Big 12 Conference regular season title and gives the Longhorns one point in the State Farm Lone Star
Showdown standings. Texas now leads the season-long series between the two schools, 8.5-7.0.
With the match knotted at three points apiece, the match at first singles featuring UT's Corovic (Belgrade, Serbia) and A&M's 24th-ranked senior Anna Lubinsky progressed to a third-set tiebreaker after Corovic took the first set and Lubinsky captured the second.
A long Lubinsky forehand put Corovic on top 1-0, but a Lubinsky forehand winner evened the tiebreaker at one point apiece. An errant Lubinsky forehand put Corovic up 2-1, and Corovic extended her lead to 3-1 with a forehand winner.
Corovic sent a forehand beyond the baseline to bring A&M within 3-2, but Lubinsky followed suit with one of her own to push Corovic's lead to 4-2. Corovic added a crisp backhand winner to push her lead to 5-2.
Corovic swatted a backhand into the net to bring Lubinsky within 5-3, but Lubinsky slapped her next forehand into the net to give Corovic match points at 6-3.
On the next point, Corovic's appeal of a forehand that may have landed on the baseline was denied, but on the next point, the precocious freshman smashed a Lubinsky overhead lob out of reach to clinch the tiebreaker, the individual victory, and a thrilling team victory for the Longhorns.
"When the match came down to Vanja, I knew it was in the bag," said UT coach Patty Fendick-McCain. "She's so talented and so tough…the combination of the two is just lethal."
Corovic would not have been in position to put away the Texas victory without the aid of three more three-set victories to even the match prior to her win. The Aggies opened the match by taking the doubles point to assume a 1-0 lead, and the Aggies' Anna Blagodarova was the first off of the court in singles play, as she posted a 7-6 (6), 6-4, victory at third singles over UT senior Petra Dizdar (Split, Croatia) to push the lead to 2-0.
Texas freshman Sarah Lancaster (San Antonio, Texas) sliced the deficit to 2-1 by topping the Aggies' Tiffany Clifford in three sets at sixth singles, 6-0, 3-6, 6-1. Texas A&M struck back at fourth singles when the Aggies' 113th-ranked Elze Potgieter dealt UT junior Courtney Zauft (San Antonio, Texas) a 6-4, 6-4 defeat to push the A&M lead to 3-1.
Texas faced a daunting task, having dropped the first sets at fifth and second positions, but the Longhorns rallied to victories at each position. Senior Ristine Olson (Missoula, Mont.) dropped her first set at fifth singles to Nicki Mechem, but Olson took the second set, 6-3, to force a third.
Olson, who was honored before the match during UT's Senior Day festivities, broke Mechem's serve in the last game before a potential tie-breaker to take the set, 7-5, and bring Texas to within 3-2.
UT freshman Stephanie Davison (Port Orchard, Wash.) dropped her first set at second singles to Sarah Foster, 7-5, but Davison rebounded with a 6-2 second-set win. Davison held a 5-1 third-set lead, but Foster battled back to even the set at five games apiece.
However, Davison held service and broke Foster's serve in the final two games to take the set and the match, 7-5, to set the stage for Corovic, who delivered the clinching victory minutes later.
"What a great Senior Day, and what a great way for our seniors to go out," Fendick-McCain concluded. "We've really been trying to instill a sense of toughness, and these ladies really turned a corner today. To see them come through was fantastic, and we're so proud of everyone."
Texas concludes the regular season when it journeys to Missouri and Kansas State this weekend. The Longhorns take on the Tigers on Saturday, April 21 in Columbia, Mo., before meeting the Wildcats on Sunday, April 22 in Manhattan, Kan. Two Texas victories would clinch a share of the Big 12 Conference regular season title for the Longhorns.
No. 41 Texas 4, No. 21 Texas A&M 3
Doubles – Order of Finish: 2, 3, 1
1. Corovic/Milic (UT) def. No. 28 Clifford/Foster (TAMU) – 8-6
2. No. 39 Mechem/Lubinsky (TAMU) def. Olson/Zauft (UT) – 8-1
3. Blagodarova/Sammons (TAMU) def. Davison/Pringle (UT) – 8-6
Singles – Order of Finish: 3, 6, 4, 5, 2, 1
1. No. 51 Vanja Corovic (UT) def. No. 24 Anna Lubinsky (TAMU) – 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (4)
2. Stephanie Davison (UT) def. Sarah Foster (TAMU) – 5-7, 6-2, 7-5
3. Anna Blagodarova (TAMU) def. Petra Dizdar (UT) – 7-6 (6), 6-4
4. No. 113 Elze Potgieter (TAMU) def. Courtney Zauft (UT) – 6-4, 6-4
5. Ristine Olson (UT) def. Nicki Mechem (TAMU) - 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
6. Sarah Lancaster (UT) def. Tiffany Clifford (TAMU) - 6-0, 3-6, 6-1