WACO, Texas- The 26th-ranked Texas A&M women’s tennis team punched its ticket to the second round of the NCAA Championship with a 4-1 victory over No. 38 TCU today at the Baylor Tennis Center.
Senior Sarah Foster clinched the victory at the No. 2 singles line, defeating 84th-ranked Anna Sydorska, 7-6 (3), 6-2 to send the Aggies to the second round for the fourth consecutive year and a rematch against Big 12 Conference-champion Baylor Sunday at 2 p.m. in Waco.
Although Foster sealed the win at the No. 2 line, A&M got its biggest boost from the lower half of the lineup in both doubles and singles.
“We are deep, don’t get me wrong, but it was still hard fought matches in all of them,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “Even though some of the scores may not have looked that way, we had to hit a lot of balls today. We got exactly what I would expect from TCU. They have a great team, and this was a good college match.”
The Aggies (21-6) took the early lead with wins at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles. Anna Blagodarova and Michelle Sammons disposed of Karine Ionesco and Andrea Morgado, 8-5, at the No. 3 line. A&M’s 50th-ranked duo of Anna Lubinsky and Nicki Mechem then clinched the point with an 8-4 victory over Nina Munch-Soegaard and Kewa Nichols at No. 2.
The battle on the No. 1 court between two nationally ranked teams was halted with TCU’s fourth-ranked Ana Cetnik and Anna Sydorska holding a narrow 6-5 lead over No. 31-ranked Tiffany Clifford and Sarah Foster, who were one point away from tying the match.
A&M opened singles play by winning the first set on four courts, although two were decided by tiebreakers.
“When you win the doubles point and you get four first sets, that is a big key,” Kleinecke said. “It puts you in the driver’s seat. I felt like we were in charge, but we didn’t want to let up any. TCU is dangerous, and we didn’t want to let up any. I think that was the most impressive thing today is that we had our foot down and we didn’t let them up.”
A&M’s Marisa Druss once again made the most of her limited playing opportunities, improving to 10-0 in dual matches this season and giving the Aggies a 2-0 lead with a convincing 6-2, 6-2 victory over Ionesco at No. 6. Druss was off the court before Foster had even finished her first set.
Cetnik, ranked No. 57 in singles, put the Frogs within 2-1 with a 6-3, 6-1 win against No. 113 Elze Potgieter at the No. 3 line. Mechem, A&M’s all-time leader in both singles and doubles victories, quickly followed with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Morgado at the No. 5 line, running her winning streak to five and putting the Aggies ahead, 3-1.
The No. 1 and No. 4 courts were both in the third set when Foster secured the win. Anna Lubinsky, ranked No. 25, had dropped her first set to 114th-ranked Munch-Soegaard, 6-4, at the No. 1 position, but came back to take the second set, 6-4. Lubinsky had just cut Munch-Soegaard’s third-set lead to 3-2 when the match was stopped.
Nichols held a 2-1 lead over Blagodarova in the third set at No. 4 when play was stopped. Blagodarova had tied the first set at six games apiece and then raced to a 7-0 win in the tiebreaker to take the first set. Nichols evened the match with a 6-3 second-set and forcing the third set.
A&M’s victory was its second of the season against TCU (17-11), having defeated the Frogs, 5-2 on Feb. 22 in College Station, Texas. TCU, however, had upset A&M in the first round the only other time the two teams met in NCAA play, eliminating the Aggies, 4-1, at the 2002 NCAAs in Austin, Texas.
The Aggies will be the ones aiming for the upset Sunday when they take on No. 13 seed Baylor, a team A&M fell to, 6-1, during the regular season.
“The last time we played (Baylor), we won the doubles point and then when we got into the singles, I just didn’t feel like we competed as well as we could,” Kleinecke said. “Baylor played extremely well in the singles and we ended up losing all six matches, and that left a bad taste in our mouth. We are going to come out and take a good shot at it. We are going to have to be patient and wait for our chances and have the guts and determination to hit our shots.”
The winner of the A&M-Baylor match advances to the Round of 16 to be played at the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., on May 18.
Live scoring of all A&M women’s tennis matches is available at AggieAthletics.com.
No. 26 Texas A&M 4, No. 38 TCU 1
1. (#25) Anna Lubinsky (A&M) vs. (#114) Nina Munch-Soegaard (TCU), DNF
2. Sarah Foster (A&M) def. (#84) Anna Sydorska (TCU), 7-6 (3), 6-2
3. (#57) Ana Cetnik (TCU) def. (#113) Elze Potgieter (A&M), 6-3, 6-1
4. Anna Blagodarova (A&M) vs. Kewa Nichols (TCU), DNF
5. Nicki Mechem (A&M) def. Andrea Morgado (TCU), 6-1, 6-2
6. Marisa Druss (A&M) def. Karine Ionesco (TCU), 6-2, 6-2
Doubles (A&M wins the point)
1. (#31) Tiffany Clifford/Foster (A&M) vs. (#4) Cetnik/Sydorska (TCU), DNF
2. (#50) Lubinsky/Mechem (A&M) def. Munch-Soegaard/Nichols (TCU), 8-4
3. Blagodarova/Michelle Sammons (A&M) def. Ionesco/Morgado (TCU), 8-5
Order of finish (D3, D2, S6, S3, S5, S2*)
Baylor Tennis Center (Attendance: n/a)
Team records: Texas A&M (21-6); TCU (17-11)
A&M advances to NCAA Second Round; faces No. 13 Baylor Sunday at 2 p.m. in Waco.