COLLEGE STATION, TX -- Texas A&M’s Janelle Cuthbertson came from behind to get a clutch three-set victory and clinch the Aggies’ 4-0 win over Kansas State today in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
The 19th-ranked and No. 2-seed Aggies (17-4) now advance to the semifinals and face a rematch against 12th-ranked and No. 2 seed Baylor Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Mitchell Tennis Center.
A&M’s match against the No. 6 seed Wildcats was much closer than the score indicated, as the teams had split sets on the remaining three singles matches when Cuthbertson came through with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory over Carman Borau Ramos at the No. 5 line.
"In the context of the match, it was obviously a huge win,” A&M head coach Howard Joffe said about Cuthbertson’s match “She came from a set behind and if you have a good look at the scoreboard if Janelle had gotten beaten in two sets, the matches are very tenuous. We are down in the third set and having lost the first set on the other two remaining courts. It was a critical match and I am really pleased for Janelle, because she has health problems up and down. It is a nice win for her in a critical match."
Cuthbertson also played a role in clinching the doubles point to give the Aggies a 1-0 lead. The 38th-ranked duo of Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Wen Sun had given A&M an early edge with an 8-3 victory over 68th-ranked Karla Bonacic and Petra Niedermayerova at the No. 1 line before Borau Ramos and Petra Chuda evened the race for the point with an 8-4 victory over Sheri Olivier and Lauren Santacroce at No. 3.
With the decision coming down to the No. 2 court, Cuthbertson and partner Nazari Urbina went up a break at 7-5 against Marketa Trousilova and Carli Wischhoff and then held serve to win the match, 8-5, and give the Aggies a 1-0 lead. It marked the 15th consecutive win for Cuthbertson and Urbina, as they improve to 15-1 in dual matches, all at the No. 2 position.
Santacroce had a strong and decisive performance at No. 4 singles, defeating Wischhoff, 6-1, 6-1, to give A&M a 2-0 lead. Sanchez-Quintanar, ranked No. 8 in singles, then fought off a stubborn Niedermayerova, coming back from a 5-3 deficit in the second set to defeat the 27th-ranked and 2011 Big 12 Player of the Year, 6-3, 7-5 at the top of the lineup to give the Aggies a 3-0 lead.
Sanchez-Quintanar, the 2012 Big 12 No. 1 singles champion with a 9-0 record during the conference regular season, improved to 16-1 in dual matches and 33-5 overall to move into a tie for third in the A&M records for most singles wins in a season.
"Cristina is a huge talent,” Joffe said. “There is no question about that and she is a very fine player, but she is an absolute warrior. It is awful tough against Niedermayerova, because she is an awful good player. Cristina has had three monumental battles against her this year and actually won all of them. It is awful tough to do that. It is okay to beat the New England Patriots one time, but to beat them three times in a row, it is not so easy. That just speaks to Cristina's character. She is just inherently a fighter."
The remaining matches were coming down to the wire. Urbina had lost the first set in a tiebreaker against Bonacic, 7-6 (3), but held a narrow 4-3 lead in the second set at the No. 2 line when play was halted.
Sun had dropped a 7-6 (6) first set to Ana Gomez Aleman and held a slim 4-3 edge in the second at No. 3, while Olivier had split sets with Trousilova, 7-5, 2-6, and was down 1-0 in the third before Cuthbertson came through.
"It is interesting because I think at this time of the year, it is easy to forget the kids are students as well,” Joffe said. “Exams are coming up, and this is not an excuse for our time by any measure; the same is true on the day for Kansas State I am sure. At this time, generally the kids are pretty beat up and tired. It is just a very different dynamic suddenly in a tournament. I expected it to be difficult and it was difficult. Fortunately we had enough on the day. I thought that Kansas State fought very, very well and also played rather well."
K-State, which was thumped, 6-1, by the Aggies earlier this year, ends its season 8-14.
The Aggies now look forward to a rematch against six-time defending Big 12 tournament champion Baylor. The Lady Bears have eliminated the Aggies each of the last two years in the semifinals and defeated A&M in a hard-fought, four-and-a-half hour, 5-2 match in Waco earlier this year.
"More than anything it is just another opportunity for our team to play against a real strong team in Baylor,” Joffe said. “The message, unfortunately, is no different than any other day. We need to play better tennis than what Baylor does, and we will do everything we can to do that."
No. 1 Texas Tech and No. 4 Texas battle in the other semifinal match also at 2 p.m. The A&M men, who knocked off Texas today in the first round of the men’s tournament, face No. 1 Oklahoma at 11 a.m.
Tickets may be purchased at the main entrance to the Mitchell Tennis Center.
No. 19 Texas A&M 4, No. 67 Kansas State 0
Big 12 Championship - Quarterfinal
April 27, 2012
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
College Station, Texas
1. (#8) Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar (TAMU) def. (#27) Petra Niedermayerova (KSU), 6-3, 7-5
2. (#61) Nazari Urbina (TAMU) vs. Karla Bonacic (KSU), 6-7 (3), 4-3, unfinished
3. (#81) Wen Sun (TAMU) vs. Ana Gomez Aleman (KSU), 6-7 (6), 4-3 unfinished
4. Lauren Santacroce (TAMU) def. Carli Wischhoff (KSU), 6-1, 6-1
5. Janelle Cuthbertson (TAMU) def. Carmen Borau Ramos (KSU), 3-6, 6-2, 6-1
6. Sheri Olivier (TAMU) vs. Marketa Trousilova (KSU), 7-5, 2-6, 0-1 unfinished
Doubles (A&M wins the point)
1. (#38) Sanchez-Quintanar/Sun (TAMU) def. Bonacic/Niedermayerova (KSU), 8-3
2. Cuthbertson/Urbina (TAMU) def. Trousilova/Wischhoff (KSU), 8-5
3. Borau Ramos/Petra Chuda (KSU) def. Olivier/Santacroce (TAMU), 8-4
Order of finish
Doubles: 1, 3, 2
Singles: 4, 1, 5*
*- Clinched match
Texas A&M: 17-4
Kansas State: 8-14