WACO -- Texas A&M earned its eighth consecutive bid to the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships and will head back to Waco, Texas, for first- and second-round action May 12-13. The No. 26 Aggies (20-6), an at-large selection from the Big 12 Conference, meet No. 38 TCU (17-10), an at-large entry from the Mountain West Conference, at 2 p.m. Saturday in the first round at the Baylor Tennis Center.
In other first-round action in Waco, 13th-seeded Baylor (22-6), the automatic qualifier from the Big 12 Conference, faces Oral Roberts (12-8), an automatic qualifier from the Mid-Continent Conference, Saturday at 11 a.m. The first-round winners meet Sunday at 2 p.m. to determine who advances to the Round of 16 to be played at the University of Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., beginning May 18.
The Baylor Athletic Ticket Office is offering two ticketing plans for the NCAA men's and women's tournaments. Fans can purchase a $30 three-day, all-session (three women’s matches, three men’s matches), reserved seat pass, an $8 adult general admission three-day ticket, or a daily ticket for $10 for reserved seating, $5 for adult general admission and $3 for student (under 18) general admission seating. For additional ticket information, contact the Baylor Athletic Ticket Office at 254-710-1000.
Saturday, May 12
11 a.m. No. 13-seed Baylor vs. Oral Roberts
2 p.m. Texas A&M vs. TCU
Sunday, May 13
2 p.m. Winner of Baylor vs. ORU vs.
Winner of A&M-TCU
Baylor also will be hosting men's first and second-round NCAA matches Friday and Saturday. The A&M men take on Rice Friday at 3 p.m., followed by Baylor men vs. Oral Roberts at 6 p.m. The two winners meet Saturday at 5 p.m.
Each match will be played on six courts and will be stopped immediately when an overall winner is determined.
Live scoring updates of A&M matches will be available on the A&M website, www.AggieAthletics.com.
A&M's Road to the NCAAs — A&M got off to a 15-3 start to the season, tying the 1997 team for the all-time best start after 18 matches and coming within one victory of breaking the record. The Aggies, who were ranked as high as No. 14 in the nation, went 9-2 in the competitive Big 12 Conference, tying Colorado for third place and finishing one game behind co-champions Baylor and Texas.
With a victory against Oklahoma in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship, A&M reached the 20-victory milestone for the sixth time in school history.
All six of A&M's losses this season have come against teams participating in the NCAA tournament. The Aggies are 5-6 overall against the NCAA tournament field this year. Four of the losses were to teams seeded in the 64-team bracket: No. 2 Georgia, No. 6 Notre Dame, No. 13 Baylor and No. 16 Vanderbilt. The other two losses were both narrow 4-3 setbacks to Texas.
A&M's History in the NCAAs — Texas A&M is making its eighth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and 13th overall since the first championship was held in 1982. The Aggies are 10-13 all-time in postseason play.
This is the second consecutive year the Aggies have been sent to Baylor for first- and second-round action. A&M was an at-large team in 2006 and faced No. 22 Arizona State in the first round. After winning two of three doubles matches, A&M went on to win three of the first four completed singles matches to clinch the win and advance to the second round. A&M was eliminated by No. 5 seed Baylor, 4-0, in the second round.
In 2005, A&M received an at-large berth and defeated Nevada-Las Vegas, 4-0, in the first round played at the University of Texas' Penick-Allison Tennis Center in Austin, Texas. The Aggies were eliminated in the second round as the Longhorns topped A&M, 4-1, en route to their national runner-up finish.
In 2004, the Aggies received an automatic berth after coming from behind to top 10th-ranked and Big 12 regular-season champion Texas, 4-3, in the finals of the Big 12 Tournament. It was the Aggies' first automatic NCAA invitation in the eight-year history of the conference. A&M was awarded an all-time high No. 12 seed in the 64-team bracket and was selected to host first and second rounds for the second consecutive year and the third time overall.
A&M took advantage of playing at home, racing past SWAC automatic qualifier Southern, 4-0, in the first round. The Aggies faced former Southwest Conference-foe SMU in the second round, and after dropping the doubles point, A&M won the first four singles matches to send the Aggies to the Round of 16 for the first time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams.
The Aggies were eliminated by fifth-seeded and No. 7-ranked Clemson, 4-1. A&M was selected to host and was the No. 2 seed at the regional site in the 2003 tournament. The Aggies disposed of LSU, 4-0, to advance to the second round. A&M then fell to the nation's No. 4 seed, California, 4-0.
The Aggies first appeared in the 16-team tournament in 1986 and were eliminated by eventual runner-up Southern California, 8-1, in the first round in Austin. A&M returned to the Championships in 1989 and fell to Arizona, 5-1, in the first round in Gainesville, Fla.
A&M was selected to host for the first time in 1996 and took advantage of the home site, the Omar Smith Tennis Center. The No. 2 seed in the eight-team Southwest Regional, the Aggies defeated Baylor, 5-1, and then downed No. 3 seed Arkansas, 5-3, to advance to the regional finals. A&M faced No. 1-seed Vanderbilt for the right to advance to the Round of 16 and fell, 5-3.
A&M made a second consecutive appearance in the 1997 NCAAs and defeated host Rice, 5-3, in the first round of the Southwest Regional played at Jake Hess Tennis Stadium. The Aggies were eliminated by LSU, 5-0, in the regional semifinals.
The Aggies returned to the NCAAs for a third straight year in 1998 and fell to Houston, 5-3, in the opening round of the Southwest Regional in Baton Rouge, La.
After missing the 1999 tournament, A&M received a bid to the 2000 tournament and was sent to Berkeley, Calif. The Aggies topped Kentucky, 5-4, in the first round and then fell to the host Golden Bears, 5-0, in the regional semifinals.
A&M fell in the first round of the 2001 and 2002 NCAA regionals, falling to Tulane, 4-3, at Notre Dame and then dropping a 4-1 decision to TCU in Austin in 2002.
Series Record vs. Regional Participants — A&M took a 15-14 overall lead in the series (since 1980) against TCU with a 5-2 victory against the Horned Frogs on Feb. 22 in College Station. The victory snapped A&M's two-match losing skid against the Frogs. Former Southwest Conference-foe TCU owns a 1-0 advantage in NCAA matches, having eliminated the favored Aggies, 4-1, in the first round of the 2002 tournament in Austin.
A&M holds a 20-12 lead in the all-time series against Baylor since 1980; however, the Bears have won the last five meetings and 10 of the last 12, including a 6-1 victory against the Aggies on April 11 in College Station.
A&M's most recent victory against the Bears was in 2004, as the Aggies posted a 6-1 decision in Waco.
A&M has never faced Oral Roberts.
Regional Team Notes — TCU (17-10) received an at-large berth and is making its fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAAs and its 10th overall appearance. The Horned Frogs, ranked No. 38, went 7-1 in the Mountain West Conference regular season to tie BYU for the league title. The Frogs advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament before being ousted by No. 56 UNLV.
TCU, 4-9 against teams in this year's NCAAs, is led Ana Cetnik and Anna Sydorska, who are ranked No. 57 and No. 84, respectively, in the nation in singles and together are listed No. 4 in doubles. In addition, Nina Munch-Soegaard is ranked No. 114 in singles and leads the Frogs with a 21-6 record.
Cetnik will be representing TCU at the NCAA Singles Championship. In addition, she and Sydorska earned All-America distinction in doubles by being the No. 4 seed at the NCAA Doubles Championship.
At last year's NCAAs, TCU defeated No. 65 Rice and No. 18 Texas in Fort Worth to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history. The Frogs, who post a 5-9 all-time record in NCAA action, were eliminated by eventual national champion Stanford.
Baylor (22-6) is the No. 13 seed and received an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships by winning its second consecutive Big 12 tournament. The Bears, who went 10-1 during the Big 12 regular season to tie Texas for the regular season title, are making their third consecutive and 10th overall NCAA appearance They enter the NCAAs riding a 14-match winning streak. They have not lost since a 5-2 setback at No. 22 UCLA on March 13.
Baylor, 9-6 against this year's tournament field, is led by 2005 NCAA singles champion and 2007 Big 12 Player of the Year Zuzana Zemenova. Zemenova is ranked No. 18 in the nation, and Zuzana Cerna is No. 49. In doubles, Klara Zrustova and Lenka Broosova are listed No. 40 in the nation, while Iva Mihaylova and Zemenova are ranked No. 49.
Baylor reached the Round of 16 for the second straight year last season after defeating Texas A&M, 4-0, in the second round in Waco. The Bears went on to the quarterfinals for the first time, where they fell to No. 4 Florida, 4-0, in Palo Alto, Calif.
Oral Roberts (12-8) received an automatic berth into the NCAA Championships after winning the Mid-Continent Conference tournament. MCC Player of the Year Emily Arkell led the Golden Eagles to a 4-0 victory over IUPUI in the championship match.
A&M Coach Bobby Kleinecke — Two-time Big 12 Coach of the Year Bobby Kleinecke enters the NCAA Championships with a 356-232 (.605) record in his 22nd season at the helm of the Aggies. 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 Big 12 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 are making their 13th NCAA appearance, including their eighth consecutive appearance.
Mechem, Lubinsky, All-Time Winners — Nicki Mechem and Anna Lubinsky will end their illustrious careers as the two winningist players in both singles and doubles in A&M history.
Since Mechem and Lubinsky are doubles partners, Mechem is assured to hold onto the doubles record, which currently stands at 116-38 all-time. Lubinsky ranks second with a 106-41 career record. On Feb. 18 against Missouri, Mechem broke the previous record of 100 set by former doubles partner Jessica Roland (2001-04). Lubinsky moved into second place in the Aggies' victory against Texas Tech on April 14.
The all-time leader in singles is still to be determined as the two are neck-and-neck for the 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 111-43 career mark, Lubinsky is only two victories behind with a 109-45 record. In addition to the team NCAAs, Lubinsky will get another opportunity to take over the record when she participates in the NCAA Singles Championship.
Lubinsky had 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.
Graduation Day for Lubinsky— Senior Anna Lubinsky will skip Texas A&M's graduation ceremony this weekend, instead hoping to celebrate on the tennis court as she leads A&M into the NCAA Championship first and second rounds. The four-year letterwinner is scheduled to graduate with honors with a bachelor's degree in finance.
Aggies Have Double Vision — A&M won the crucial doubles point in 23 of 26 matches, including all 11 home matches. The Aggies are 20-3 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 23, including 21 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. 31 Tiffany Clifford and Sarah Foster, and No. 50 Lubinsky and Mechem. Clifford and Foster are the highest ranked doubles team in the Big 12 and have earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Doubles Championship.
Five Players Reach 20-Win Mark— Five players on the Texas A&M squad have posted 20 or more wins in singles matches, including freshman Elze Potgieter, who has a team-leading 28 wins. Her 28 wins ties for ninth in the A&M single season records.
With a 25-10 record, senior Anna Lubinsky has surpassed 20 wins every year during her four-year career. Nicki Mechem also reached the 20-win milestone for the fourth time as she enters the NCAAs with a 24-11 mark.
Junior Anna Blagodarova is 24-12, marking the third straight year she has posted 20-plus wins.
Senior Sarah Foster is 23-9 in her second season at A&M, bettering her mark of 20-15 last year.
In doubles, Mechem is 30-5, one win shy of her career-best 31 wins in 2003-04, which ranks fifth in the A&M records. Her partner, Lubinsky, is 29-5. Blagodarova and freshman partner Michelle Sammons both have 24 wins, and Foster and her partner, Tiffany Clifford, have 23 wins apiece.
Lubinsky Receives Aggie Heart Award — Senior Anna Lubinsky was presented with the Cindy Churchwell Aggie Heart Award by Texas A&M women’s tennis coach Bobby Kleinecke at the team’s NCAA Selection Show party.
It is the second consecutive year Lubinsky received the award, which this year was renamed in honor of former Aggie standout and inaugural Aggie Heart Award recipient Cindy (Churchwell) O’Donovan (1988-91).
“This award goes to a person who does everything in the world for the team on and off the court and who exemplifies what I mean by putting everything out there,” Kleinecke said. “Anna just goes above and beyond what the normal player does. She prepares herself so well for matches, and the amount of preparation, the physical preparation, and what she has done with her career, she is very deserving of it.”
Senior Sarah Foster was the recipient of the newly created Spirit Award, and representatives from Crocker Hall were presented with the Aggie Fan Award.
The P.D. Gandy Award, presented annually to the player with the most overall singles victories, will be announced once the season is complete. Freshman Elze Potgieter is the current leader.
Lubinsky and Mechem are both past winners of the P.D. Gandy Award, as is Anna Blagodarova, who has won it each of the last two years.
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 18-0 when they get a win at the No. 2 singles line...A&M is 16-0 when No. 5 singles wins...A&M has had only two matches decided by one point, and both times it was against Texas...The Aggies are 13-1 in home matches, 6-4 in away matches and 1-1 at neutral sites...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...A&M is 20-3 when it wins the doubles point and 0-3 when it drops the doubles point...Of the starters, Nicki Mechem and Anna Blagodarova enter the tournament tied for the team's longest singles winning streak (4). Blagodarova and partner Michelle Sammons are riding the team's longest winning streak in doubles having won their last six matches...Stanford has won the last three NCAA team titles...Only five teams have won a national title during the 25-year history of the NCAA Championships: Stanford (15), Florida (4), Georgia (2), Southern California (2), and Texas (2)...This is the second time both the men's and women's NCAA championships will be held at the same site...University of Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Center will host the team and individual championships, May 18-28...Texas A&M has been selected to host the NCAA Championships in 2009.