KANSAS CITY, MO -- Texas A&M is the No. 3 seed at the 2007 Big 12 Women's Tennis Championship. By finishing in the top four in the final Big 12 regular-season standings, the Aggies receive a bye in the first round and will face the first-round winner between the still-to-be-determined No. 6 seed and No. 11 Kansas Friday at 6 p.m. at the Plaza Tennis Center in Kansas City, Mo.
The Aggies tied Colorado for third place in the Big 12 regular season with a 9-2 record, but A&M earned the No. 3 seed at the Big 12 Championship by virtue of its 7-0 victory against the Buffaloes on March 22 in College Station.
A&M enters the tournament with a 19-5 overall mark and ranked 24th nationally. The Aggies won the final two matches of the regular season, shutting out both Kansas State and Kansas, 7-0, on the road last weekend.
This marks the third time A&M has appeared as the No. 3 seed. In the 1997 inaugural Big 12 Championship, the No. 3-seed Aggies advanced to the finals, where they fell to Texas. A&M, 15-9 all-time at the Big 12 Championship, also earned the No. 3 seed in 2000 and was eliminated by Baylor in the semifinals.
A&M was the No. 2 seed last year. The Aggies defeated No. 7 Kansas State, 4-0, in the quarterfinals and fell to No. 3 Texas, 4-2, in the semifinals in Waco, Texas.
Live scoring of A&M matches will be available at AggieAthletics.com.
The Road to A Championship — All 12 Big 12 teams participate in the single-elimination Big 12 Women's Tennis Championship, which takes place Thursday, April 26 through Sunday, April 29 at the Plaza Tennis Center in Kansas City, Mo.
The top four seeds earn a first-round bye. Baylor, the defending tournament champion, and Texas tied for the Big 12 regular-season title with 10-1 records, but Baylor earned the No. 1 seed for the third time by virtue of its 6-1 victory over the Longhorns on April 4 in Waco.
The No. 5-12 seeds open Championship play Thursday. Oklahoma State (7-4) is the No. 5 seed, but the 7-10 seeds will not be determined until Wednesday when Nebraska (4-6) and Texas Tech (3-7) play the doubles portion of their regular-season match, which was tied at 3-3 before the contest was suspended. The two teams met March 25 in Lubbock, Texas, and played the six singles matches first because of inclement weather. After splitting the singles matches, the teams were unable to finish the doubles matches due to the weather and pre-scheduled Nebraska flight arrangements.
Seeding for Oklahoma (5-6), Missouri (3-8) and Kansas State (3-8) will be impacted by the results of the Nebraska-Texas Tech match.
Kansas (2-9) is the No. 11 seed, and Iowa State (0-11) is No. 12.
The following is the complete women’s tournament schedule:
Thursday, April 26 — First Round Matches
M1 No. 8 Seed vs. No. 9 Seed, 10 a.m.
M2 No. 5 Oklahoma State vs. No. 12 Iowa State, 10 a.m.
M3 No. 7 Seed vs. No. 10 Seed, 1:30 p.m.
M4 No. 6 Seed vs. No. 11 Kansas, 1:30 p.m.
Friday, April 27 — Quarterfinal Matches
M5 No. 1 Baylor vs. Winner of M1, 9 a.m.
M6 No. 4 Colorado vs. Winner of M2, noon
M7 No. 2 Texas vs. Winner of M3, 3 p.m.
M8 No. 3 Texas A&M vs. Winner of M4, 6 p.m.
Saturday, April 28 — Semifinal Matches
M9 Winner of M5 vs. Winner of M6, 11 a.m.
M10 Winner of M7 vs. Winner of M8, 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 29— Championship Match
M11 Winner of M9 vs. Winner of M10, 3 p.m.
Each match will be played on six courts and will be stopped immediately when a team reaches four points.
Live scoring updates of all A&M matches will be available on the A&M website, AggieAthletics.com. Other results can be found at http://kuathletics.cstv.com/sports/w-tennis/spec-rel/032707aaq.html.
The tournament champion receives an automatic bid to the 2007 NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship.
Texas leads the league with seven tournament titles (1997-2002, 2005). Baylor (2006) Oklahoma State (2003) and Texas A&M (2004) are the only other teams to possess a Big 12 Championship trophy.
A&M’s Conference Tournament History — Texas A&M is 15-9 all-time in the 10-year history of the Big 12 Women's Tennis Championship. Last year, the No. 2-seeded Aggies defeated No. 7 Kansas State, 4-0, in the quarterfinals but fell in the semifinals for the second consecutive year after dropping a 4-2 decision to No. 3 Texas.
The Aggies captured their only Big 12 Championship trophy in 2004 in Norman, Okla. The championship match between No. 1 Texas and No. 2 Texas A&M was decided in the last match standing, where A&M's Helga Vieira came through with the deciding victory, defeating Katie Ruckert, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-4 at No. 2 singles to give the Aggies a 4-3 victory. It was sweet revenge for A&M as the Longhorns had won the last match standing when the two teams met in College Station during the regular season to decide the regular-season title and the No. 1 seed.
A&M had reached the finals three times prior to the 2004 season, losing to Texas in both the 1997 and 2002 championship matches and falling to No. 4 seed Oklahoma State, 4-1, in the 2003 tournament held in Kansas City, Mo. In the inaugural 1997 Big 12 Championship, the third-seeded Aggies and the Longhorns met in a conference finals for a fifth consecutive year. The match lasted nearly seven hours before the Aggies fell, 5-4.
In 1998, the 5th-seeded Aggies fell to eventual champion Texas in the semifinals by the score of 5-0. The No. 4-seed Aggies were eliminated at home by the Baylor Bears, 5-2, in the quarterfinals of the 1999 tournament. In 2000, it again was the Bears eliminating the Aggies. Baylor topped third-seeded A&M in the semifinals, 5-3. A&M was eliminated by eventual champion Texas, 4-0, in the semifinals of the 2001 tournament.
A&M also hosted the 2002 tournament and fell to the six-time tournament-champion Longhorns, 5-0, in the championship match.
The Aggies advanced to the finals of the former Southwest Conference Championships each of the last four years it existed. Each of the finals pitted the Aggies against the Longhorns. The Aggies' only SWC tournament championship was in 1986, before the league recognized both a regular season and a tournament champion.
A&M is scheduled to host the 2008 Big 12 Tennis Championships.
Aggies Capture Big 12 Individual Titles — Texas A&M captured a conference-record six Big 12 Conference individual champion titles, including all three doubles titles. The previous Big 12 record for most individual titles was five set by Baylor in 2006. Until this season, the most titles A&M had won in single season was four accomplished in both 2004 and 2005.
Individual Big 12 champions are crowned for each of the six singles positions and all three doubles flights based on the number of conference wins during the regular season. A player must have competed in at least six matches at a set position to qualify for a conference title. In addition, wins at higher positions count toward the record in which an athlete has played a minimum of six matches.
The doubles team of Tiffany Clifford and Sarah Foster is the Big 12 No. 1 doubles champion after going 10-1 in conference play. The pair, 18-6 in all dual matches, is listed a Big 12-best No. 34 in the national rankings.
Seniors Anna Lubinsky and Nicki Mechem won their second consecutive title at No. 2 doubles after posting a 10-1 mark in league play. The duo is 19-3 in dual matches and ranked No. 45 in the nation. In addition, the two will finish their careers as the A&M all-time leaders in doubles victories, as Mechem boasts an all-time best 114-38 career mark, while Lubinsky is 104-41 in her doubles career.
Junior Anna Blagodarova and freshman Michelle Sammons went 9-2 at No. 3 doubles, tying Colorado’s Melisa Esposito and Martina Sedivec for the Big 12 title.
This is the first time A&M has won more than one doubles title in a single season. Oklahoma State is the only other team that has swept the doubles titles, accomplishing the feat in 2001.
In singles, Lubinsky is the Big 12 No. 1 singles champion after finishing with a league-best 9-2 conference record. This is Lubinsky’s third Big 12 singles champion crown, having won the No. 6 singles title as a freshman and the No. 3 singles title as a sophomore.
Mechem captured her third No. 5 singles champion title, posting a 9-2 record in conference matches. Mechem, who went 6-2 at the No. 5 line and also was credited for going 3-0 at the No. 4 position, is A&M’s all-time leader in singles victories with a 109-43 career mark.
Clifford earned the second Big 12 singles title of her career, finishing in a three-way tie at the No. 6 line with an 8-2 league record. Clifford, who was the 2005 Big 12 No. 5 singles champion, tied Esposito of Colorado and Jennifer Poskitt of Oklahoma State.
2007 Big 12 Individual Champions
No. 1 Singles: Anna Lubinsky, Texas A&M (9-2)
No. 2 Singles: Zuzana Cerna, Baylor (10-1)
No. 3 Singles: Lenka Broosova, Baylor (11-0)
No. 4 Singles: Lauren Simmons, Oklahoma State (8-3)
No. 5 Singles: Nicki Mechem, Texas A&M (9-2)
No. 6 Singles: Melisa Esposito, Colorado (8-2) and Tiffany Clifford, Texas A&M (8-2)
No. 1 Doubles: Tiffany Clifford/Sarah Foster, Texas A&M (10-1)
No. 2 Doubles: Anna Lubinsky/Nicki Mechem, Texas A&M (10-1)
No. 3 Doubles: Melisa Esposito/Martina Sedivec (9-0) and Anna Blagodarova/Michelle Sammons, Texas A&M (9-2)
A&M Coach Bobby Kleinecke — Two-time Big 12 Coach of the Year Bobby Kleinecke enters the Big 12 Tournament with a 355-231(.606) record in his 22nd season at the helm of the Aggies, including a 96-25 (.793) record in Big 12 regular-season matches. In 1986, Kleinecke's inaugural season of his college coaching career and at A&M, he led the Aggies to the Southwest Conference title and was named the SWC Coach of the Year. In 1996, he was voted the SWC Coach of the Year and in 2002, Kleinecke was honored as the Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year in the Southwest Region after leading A&M to a record-23 wins. In 2003, A&M tied for its first regular-season title as the Aggies and Baylor went 9-2. In 2004, Kleinecke's team captured its first Big 12 tournament championship, advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 and finished the season with a record 24 victories. Under Kleinecke's leadership, the Aggies have made 12 NCAA appearances, including the last seven consecutive years.
Aggies Have Double Vision — A&M has won the crucial doubles point in 21 of 24 matches, including all 11 home matches. The Aggies are 19-2 when winning the doubles point, with their only losses coming against Big 12 co-champions Baylor and Texas. The No. 2 line posts the most wins with 21, including 19 by the duo of Anna Lubinsky and Nicki Mechem.
A&M dropped the doubles point against then-No. 24 Georgia, No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 33 Vanderbilt and lost all three matches.
The Aggies have two nationally ranked doubles teams: No. 34 Tiffany Clifford and Sarah Foster, and No. 45 Lubinsky and Mechem. Clifford and Foster are the highest ranked doubles team in the Big 12.
Mechem, Lubinsky: A&M's All-Time Leaders in Singles, Doubles —
Seniors Nicki Mechem and Anna Lubinsky will end their careers as the all-time leaders in both singles and doubles victories. Since Mechem and Lubinsky are doubles partners, Mechem is assured to hold onto the doubles record, which currently stands at 114-38 all-time. Lubinsky ranks second with a 104-41 career record.
The two, however, are neck-and-neck for the singles record. Although Mechem first broke the previous record of 95 held by Monica Rebolledo (1995-98) with a victory over Sam Houston State on Jan. 20, and has since increased the record with a 109-43 career mark, Lubinsky is only one victory behind with a 108-44 record.
Lubinsky moved into a tie with Mechem with 101 wins with a victory over 43rd-ranked Jenny Kuehn of Michigan on March 4. The two remained tied until March 21, when Mechem picked up a win against Rice, while Lubinsky sat out the match.
Potgieter Leads the Way — Freshman Elze Potgieter leads the Aggies with an overall singles record of 27-9. She needs one more victory to move into a tie for ninth in the A&M records for singles wins in a season.
Potgieter also is tied with Sarah Foster for the team lead in wins in dual matches only with a 17-5 record. Potgieter has seen action at the No. 1 through No. 4 singles positions, playing most of her matches at No. 2, where she is 8-2.
In the Rankings — A&M is ranked No. 24 in the ITA national rankings released April 24. The Aggies have been ranked as high as No. 14 (March 27) during the regular season and as low as No. 29 (Jan. 30, Feb. 6, Feb. 13).
Senior Anna Lubinsky is ranked No. 24 in the national singles ranking, the second highest ranked player in the Big 12 behind Baylor's Zuzana Zemenova (No. 19). Lubinsky has been ranked as high as No. 17 (March 6, April 3).
Freshman Elze Potgieter also is listed in the national singles rankings, coming in at No. 108 this week.
A&M's doubles team of Tiffany Clifford and Sarah Foster leads the Big 12 with a No. 34 national ranking. The pair is 18-6 at the No. 1 line.
Lubinsky and Nicki Mechem are No. 45 in the national doubles ranking. They are 19-3 at the No. 2 line, including a 10-1 record in Big 12 matches.
Looking Ahead to the NCAA Selections — The Aggies are expecting to make their eight consecutive and 13th overall appearance in the NCAA Championships when the 64-team field is announced Tuesday, May 1 on ESPNEWS. The men's announcement is slated to begin at approximately 1:30 p.m., followed by the women's announcement at approximately 1:45 p.m.
ESPNEWS is located on DirecTV channel 207/DishNetwork channel 142. In addition, the ESPNEWS audio signal is available on the ESPNEWS channel on XM Radio and SIRIUS Radio.
First- and second-round competition will be played May 11-13 at 16 sites. Participants in the 64-player singles tournament and a 32-team doubles championship, which will be posted May 2 before 4 p.m., will join the final 16 teams at the final site, the Dan Magill Tennis Complex at the University of Georgia in Athens, May 18-28.
Passing Shots — The Aggies' 15-3 season start tied the school record for best start after 18 matches. A&M came one win short of breaking the record for best start after 19 matches when the Aggies fell to No. 15 Baylor on April 11 in College Station...The Aggies are 19-0 when they get a win at the No. 6 singles line...A&M also is 18-0 when No. 2 singles wins and 16-0 when No. 5 singles wins...A&M has had only one match decided by one point. The Aggies fell to Texas, 4-3, in a match that was decided at No. 1 singles, which was the last match standing. Texas' Vanja Corovic and Anna Lubinsky went into a tiebreaker in the third set, which Corovic won, 7-4...The Aggies went 13-1 in home matches and 6-4 in away matches. The Big 12 Championship will mark the first time A&M has played at a neutral site this season...Although junior Marisa Druss has seen limited action, she has made the most of her playing opportunities, going a perfect 9-0 in dual singles matches.