OXFORD, Miss. – The third-ranked Texas A&M women’s tennis team captured the school’s first regular season Southeastern Conference championship in any sport with a 4-0 victory over No. 43 Ole Miss this afternoon at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.
“It is a tremendous honor for our players, Coach (Mark) Weaver and me to represent Texas A&M University,” Aggie head coach Howard Joffe said after the victory. “The University does so much for all of us, and winning the SEC in our inaugural season feels so good in so far as our group being able to give back to our school.”
It was the fifth consecutive win for the Aggies, who improve to 20-2, finish 12-1 in the SEC, and win their first regular season conference championship since winning the Big 12 Conference regular season title in 2003.
Ole Miss, which entered the match also riding a four-match win streak, falls to 14-12, 5-8.
A&M quickly took command in doubles as the only lead Ole Miss would manage was at the No. 3 line where the Rebels held serve to open the match. The lead would be short lived as A&M’s Ines Deheza and Paula Deheza held their serve and then broke Julia Jones and Allie Robbins to go up, 2-1. It was all A&M after that.
A&M posted its first win at the No. 2 line, where 56th-ranked Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Wen Sun won four consecutive games to close out an 8-2 victory over 38th-ranked Marija Milutinovic and Caroline Rohde-Moe. It was the Aggie pair’s seventh win in the last eight outings.
The Deheza twins also pulled away to get an 8-4 victory at the No. 3 line, clinching the point for the Aggies.
A&M’s Stefania Hristov and Cristina Stancu, ranked No. 15 in the nation in doubles, held a 7-5 lead over Ole Miss’ Erin Stephens and Iris Verboven at the No. 1 line when the match was stopped.
The Aggies, who entered the match 13-0 when winning the doubles point, got off to a slow start in singles but managed to get on track to win the first set on five of six courts.
“Our ladies' performance in the singles today mimicked the determination they have shown all year,” Joffe said. “Down in at least half the matches, they were able to stay focused and turn things around."
Hristov dropped her first two games against Verboven at the No. 6 line and then won 10 consecutive games en route to a 6-2, 6-2 victory to put the Aggies ahead, 2-0.
Sun, the only A&M player to lead start to finish in singles, put the Aggies up with a win over Milutinovic at the No. 5 line. Sun opened the match by winning her first three games and went on to win, 6-2, 6-3.
Sanchez-Quintanar, ranked fourth in the nation in singles, followed Hristov’s storyline, dropping her first two games to 39th-ranked Rohde-Moe at the No. 1 line before taking command by winning the next 10 games. Sanchez-Quintanar went on to clinch A&M’s winning point with a 6-2, 6-3, victory. It was the fourth consecutive win for the All-American, who finishes 9-3 at the No. 1 line in SEC play and improves to 22-4 against ranked opponents and 35-6 overall.
With the match decided, the other three matches were stopped. At the No. 2 court, A&M’s 52nd-ranked Nazari Urbina had come back from a 3-1 deficit to take a 6-5 lead against Jones. Jones won the next game to force a tiebreaker, which she won, 7-1. It would be the only first-set victory for the Rebels.
Urbina held a 2-1 lead in the second set when play was stopped and finishes 9-1 in SEC matches to tie for the team lead in conference wins.
Stancu, ranked 65th, had fallen behind, 4-2, to 93rd-ranked Mai El Kamash at No. 3 but rallied to win the first set, 7-5. Stancu went on to win the first four games of the second set and was leading, 4-2, when the match was halted.
Ines Deheza posted A&M’s largest comeback in the first set. The freshman, who entered the match 9-0 in SEC play and riding an 11-match overall winning streak, fell behind, 5-1, to Stephens at No. 4 before winning six consecutive games to take the set, 7-5. Stephens had opened a 5-2 lead in the second set when play was suspended.
The Aggies head back to Starkville, Miss., for the 2013 SEC Women’s Tennis Championship, April 17-21 at Mississippi State’s A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
Tournament seeding will be announced later today, as second-ranked Florida and No. 4 Georgia entered their final matches tied with the Aggies for first in the league standings. Texas A&M defeated Florida, the Gators defeated Georgia, and Georgia handed A&M its only loss in SEC play. If all three teams tie for first place, a drawing will be held to determine the seeding.
Aggie fans can keep up to date on the A&M women’s tennis team on Twitter by following @AggieWTEN or on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Aggie-Womens-Tennis/143874782434654
No. 3 Texas A&M 4, No. 43 Ole Miss 0
April 14, 2013
Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center
1. #4 Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar (TAMU) def. #39 Caroline Rohde-Moe (OM), 6-2, 6-3
2. #52 Nazari Urbina (TAMU) vs. Julia Jones (OM), 6-7 (1), 2-1 unfinished
3. #65 Cristina Stancu (TAMU) vs. #93 Mai El Kamash (OM), 7-5, 4-2 unfinished
4. Ines Deheza (TAMU) vs. Erin Stephens (OM), 7-5, 2-5 unfinished
5. Wen Sun (TAMU) def. Marija Milutinovic (OM), 6-2, 6-3
6. Stefania Hristov (TAMU) def. Iris Verboven (OM), 6-2, 6-2
Doubles (Texas A&M wins the point)
1. #15 Hristov/Stancu (TAMU) vs. Stephens/ Verboven (OM), 7-5 unfinished
2. #56 Sanchez-Quintanar/Sun (TAMU) def. #38 Milutinovic/Rohde-Moe (OM), 8-2
3. I. Deheza/Paula Deheza (TAMU) def. Jones/Allie Robbins (OM), 8-4
Order of finish
Doubles: 1, 3
Singles: 6, 5, 1
Texas A&M: 20-2, 12-1 SEC
Ole Miss: 14-12, 5-8 SEC