AUSTIN -- In a classic battle between rival teams and a potential share of a conference title on the line, Texas won a tiebreaker in the decisive last match standing to top Texas A&M, 4-3, in a State Farm Lone Star Showdown at Penick-Allison Tennis Center.
“It is always disappointing to lose,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “All year long you talk about laying it all out there, and you can take what happens, winning or losing. We laid it all out there. There is nothing left in the tank. We can walk out and hold our heads high and believe in ourselves.”
After dropping the first set on four singles courts and falling behind, 3-1, Texas (11-8, 8-1 Big 12) came back to tie the score at 3-all. The match came down to No. 1 singles, where 51st-ranked Vanja Corovic of Texas held a 5-4 third-set lead over 24th-ranked Anna Lubinsky when the overall team scored was tied up. Lubinsky took the next game to tie the set. Corovic then won the following game to take a 6-5 lead, but Lubinsky answered by racing to four straight points in the following game to knot the score at 6-6 and force a tiebreaker. Corovic never trailed in the tiebreaker and clinched the victory for the Longhorns, winning the tiebreaker, 7-4.
“Looking at the singles, we win four first sets,” Kleinecke said. “We started out right. We win two matches in straight sets and we lose four three-set matches. We kind of knew that the match was going to come down to the (last match standing).”
The Aggies (17-5, 7-2 Big 12) entered singles play with a 1-0 lead, having won two of three doubles matches. A&M’s 39th-ranked duo of Lubinsky and Nicki Mechem improved to 9-0 in Big 12 matches after cruising to an 8-1 victory over Ristine Olson and Courtney Zauft at the No. 2 line.
Anna Blagodarova and Michelle Sammons then clinched the point for A&M, holding off Stephanie Davison and Jane Pringle, 8-6, at No. 3. A&M had built a 7-3 advantage, but Texas cut the lead to 7-6. A&M then broke serve for the fourth time to earn the victory and give the Aggies the 1-0 lead.
Corovic and Marija Milic prevented the A&M sweep in doubles, coming from behind to hand 28th-ranked Sarah Foster and Tiffany Clifford (8-1) their first conference loss and snapping the Aggie duo’s eight-match winning streak. A&M held a 6-4 advantage at the No. 1 line, but the Longhorns rallied for four consecutive games to win, 8-6.
“I felt like we had control in the doubles, and we were waiting for them to make mistakes instead of us keep going for our shots and keep them down,” Kleinecke said. “We had them down and we let them back up again. I don’t know if that was a factor in the match.”
In singles, Sarah Lancaster tied the score with a 6-0, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Clifford at the No. 6 line. But in a bang-bang finish, Blagodarova immediately regained the lead for the Aggies with a 7-6 (6) 6-4 victory over Petra Dizdar at No. 3.
Elze Potgieter then put the Aggies ahead, 3-1, with a 6-4, 6-4 win against Zauft at No. 4, but the momentum shifted in favor of the Longhorns as Olson overcame a first-set loss to Mechem at No. 5 to win, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, and put Texas within, 3-2.
Foster fought back from a 5-1 third-set deficit against Davison at the No. 2 line, reeling off four straight games to even the set at 5-all. Davison regrouped to win the next two games to post a 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 victory and earn the tying point for the Longhorns.
“This was a classic match, a great college match,” Kleinecke said. “This was just like it was four years ago. We lost that one in a tiebreaker and then came back and beat them in the tournament. That is what we are holding onto right now. We have to set the stage for that, but that is what our belief is.”
A&M concludes the conference schedule at Kansas State and Kansas, Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The Aggies, now in third place in the Big 12 standings, then compete in the Big 12 Championship, which begins Wednesday in Kansas City, Mo.
“We have our work cut out for us this weekend,” Kleinecke said. “Going to play Kansas and Kansas State, it is very important that we take care of business this weekend. That is not going to be easy. Those teams are going to be coming after us. They are not going to give us a thing.”
No. 41 Texas 4, No. 21 Texas A&M 3
1. (#51) Vanja Corovic (UT) def. (#24) Anna Lubinsky (A&M), 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (4)
2. Stephanie Davison (UT) def. Sarah Foster (A&M), 5-7, 6-2, 7-5
3. Anna Blagodarova (A&M) def. Petra Dizdar (UT), 7-6 (6), 6-4
4. (#113) Elze Potgieter (A&M) def. (#109) Courtney Zauft (UT), 6-4, 6-4
5. Ristine Olson (UT) def. Nicki Mechem (A&M), 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
6. Sarah Lancaster (UT) def. Tiffany Clifford (A&M), 6-0, 3-6, 6-1
Doubles (A&M wins the point)
1. Corovic/Marija Milic (UT) def. (#28) Clifford/Foster (A&M), 8-6
2. (#39) Lubinsky/Mechem (A&M) def. Olson/Zauft (UT), 8-1
3. Blagodarova/Michelle Sammons (A&M) def. Davison/Jane Pringle (UT), 8-6
Order of finish (D2, D3, D1, S6, S3, S4, S5, S2, S1*)
Penick-Allison Tennis Center (Attendance: n/a)
Team records: Texas A&M (17-5, 7-2 Big 12); Texas (11-8, 8-1 Big 12)