COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The fourth-ranked Texas A&M women’s tennis team wraps up its regular season home schedule this weekend with crucial matches against No. 23 Auburn and No. 7 Alabama. The Aggies, whose 8-1 record in Southeastern Conference matches puts them in a four-way tie with the Crimson Tide, Florida and Georgia for first place in the overall league standings and tied with Alabama for first place in the SEC Western Division. host Auburn Friday at 5 p.m. and Alabama Sunday at noon at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
“Without question this weekend will be a good one to be out at the Mitchell Tennis Center,” A&M second-year head coach Howard Joffe said. “Our duals against Auburn and Alabama represent wonderful opportunities for our team to continue to stay competitive at or near the top of the SEC. Also with four dual matches to go in the regular season, it affords us the chance to sharpen our competitive skills with a view to post season play.”
A&M seniors Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar, Nazari Urbina, Wen Sun and Janelle Cuthbertson will be recognized following the match against the Tide.
“Sunday we will celebrate the careers of four seniors. In Urbina, Sanchez, Wen and Cuthbertson,” Joffe said. “Texas A&M has been blessed and rewarded for the effort that we invest in each lady. They have far exceeded any reasonable expectation competitively and have been invaluable to the current strength of our women’s program. Above all else, they are four fantastic quality human beings.”
A&M is 16-2 on the year after defeating Big 12 Conference nemesis and 42nd-ranked Baylor, 4-2, Wednesday in Waco. The Aggies dropped the doubles point but got straight-set victories from Cristina Stancu and Ines Deheza at the No. 2 and 4 singles lines, respectively, and three-set victories from Wen Sun and Stefania Hristov at Nos. 5 and 6 to notch the Aggies’ third consecutive win in the series.
All-American and fifth-ranked Sanchez-Quintanar, whose match against the Bears’ 10th-ranked Ema Burgic went unfinished, leads the Aggies with a 31-6 overall singles record, tying for sixth in the A&M records for most wins in a season. She is 12-3 in dual matches, all at the No. 1 line.
Urbina, whose 95 career singles victories ties for fourth in the A&M record books, is No. 55 in the nation in singles and sports a 9-3 singles record in dual matches. Stancu rounds out A&M’s ranked singles players, as she is listed No. 68. The junior is 10-5 in dual matches, all at the No. 2 line.
The lower half of the lineup has been ruled by a trio of freshmen along with Sun. Hristov leads the Aggies in wins in dual match play with a 14-4 record, including 10-0 at No. 6. Deheza is riding a team-best eight-match win streak. She is 9-3 in dual matches, having played the majority of matches at the No. 4 line where she is 7-2. Sun has played at both the No. 4 and 5 lines and improved to 7-4 in dual matches after clinching the winning point for the Aggies at Baylor. Freshman Anna Mamalat is 5-3 at the No. 6 line, where the Aggies are a combined 15-3.
A&M, 11-0 when winning the doubles point, has a pair of doubles teams listed in the national rankings. Hristov and Stancu are No. 7 with a team-leading 17-7 overall record, including an 8-4 mark in dual matches at the No. 1 line. Sanchez-Quintanar and Sun are ranked 72nd and have won four consecutive matches, improving to 6-5 in dual matches.
Although unranked, Deheza and twin sister Paula lead the Aggies in dual match victories with a 10-5 record, having gone 2-0 at No. 2 doubles and 8-5 at No. 3.
Auburn is 15-5 overall and is third in the SEC West with a 5-4 ledger. Coached by former SMU coach Lauren Longbotham Meisner, the Tigers are coming off a 4-0 victory against Kentucky, ending a four-match losing skid. Freshman Pleun Burgmans is ranked 36th in the nation in singles with an 18-5 overall mark, including a 12-2 record at the No. 1 line. She is 26th in the nation in doubles with partner Plamena Kurteva. The duo is 10-2 overall, including 7-2 in dual matches at No. 1.
A&M is 2-0 in the all-time series against the Tigers. Both matches were played in College Station, including the most recent meeting in 2009 in which A&M defeated then-25th-ranked Auburn, 5-2.
Alabama has won its last three matches and is 16-2 overall. The Tide has four nationally ranked singles players: No. 26 Mary Anne Macfarlane, No. 56 Alexa Guarachi, No. 84 Maya Jansen and No. 113 Natalia Maynetto, who enters the weekend riding a team-best seven-match win streak and is 7-0 in SEC contests. Macfarlane and Guarachi are No. 6 in the nation in doubles with an 18-7 overall record.
Alabama leads the series against A&M, 2-1. The teams last met in 2000 with the Aggies winning, 7-0, in College Station.