COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M women’s tennis team wraps up tournament play this weekend, competing in the Miami Spring Invite, Friday-Sunday, at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center in Coral Gables, Fla.
Texas A&M, ranked No. 14 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) preseason rankings, will take on No. 9 Miami, No. 11 Texas and No. 28 Vanderbilt in the Aggies’ final tune-up before beginning dual match play on Saturday, Jan. 26 against North Texas at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. Results of the Miami tournament count only toward individual singles and doubles records and will not factor into team win-loss records.
“The competition this weekend will no doubt ask plenty of questions of us,” Texas A&M second-year head coach Howard Joffe said. “In Texas, Miami and Vanderbilt, we will face some top teams that are littered with talent and highly ranked players.”
The Aggies open Friday against Vanderbilt in doubles at 8 a.m. followed by singles matches against the Longhorns at 9:30 a.m. The former Big 12 Conference rivals compete in doubles on Saturday at 8 a.m. before the Aggies face the host Hurricanes in singles beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday. The tournament concludes on Sunday with the Aggies playing Miami in doubles at 8 a.m. and wrapping up against Vanderbilt in singles at 9:30 a.m.
“Getting a belly full of matches is likely the top priority for any coach as they prepare for the season,” Joffe said. “In the case of the Aggies, it’s even more critical since a quarter of our squad in Maria Paula (Deheza) and Maria Ines (Deheza) just joined us. We don’t have a ton of time to experiment with pairings and such, but we will certainly use this weekend to see where all our ladies are at competitively.”
Joffe returns three letterwinners from last year’s team that went 19-6 and ranked No. 17 in the final rankings after reaching the NCAA second round. He also welcomes five talented newcomers.
Senior All-American Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar, who last year became only the second player in A&M history to reach the quarterfinals at the NCAA Singles Championship, leads the Aggies as her No. 3 preseason singles ranking is the highest in school history. Meanwhile, Cristina Stancu, a junior transfer from Maryland who is No. 45 in singles, and freshman Stefani Hristov are No. 7 in doubles, marking the highest ranked doubles tandem in A&M history.
Wen Sun, an All-Big 12 selection in both singles and doubles last year, returns for her senior season and joins Sanchez-Quintanar and Stancu in the singles rankings at No. 82. Senior Nazari Urbina, A&M’s first-ever three-time participant in the NCAA Singles Championship and freshman Anna Mamalat also will be competing for the Aggies, as will the Deheza twins, who joined the team earlier this month and will be making their A&M debut.
The Hurricanes, who went 21-5 and made a fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA quarterfinals in 2012, have three players in the preseason singles rankings: freshman Kelsey Laurente (51), junior Lina Lileikite (57) and freshman Stephanie Wagner (92). Miami already has two dual matches under its belt and is 2-0 after blanking both Florida Atlantic and No. 24 Illinois, 7-0, last weekend.
Texas returns four regular singles starters from the 2012 squad that won the Big 12 Championship and reached the round of 16 at the NCAA Championships. Aeriel Ellis, a two-time ITA singles All-American after reaching the round of 16 in the NCAA Championship’s singles draw the last two seasons, returns for her senior season, and sophomore Noel Scott is the Longhorns’ highest ranked singles at No. 79.
The Commodores have three players listed in the ITA preseason singles rankings. Marie Casares is Vanderbilt’s highest ranked at No. 91, while freshmen Courtney Colton and Frances Altick rank No. 102 and No. 115, respectively.
The complete tournament scheduled is as follows (all times are Central):
Friday, January 18
8:00 a.m. Miami vs. Texas (doubles)
8:00 a.m. Texas A&M vs. Vanderbilt (doubles)
NB 9:30 a.m. Miami vs. Vanderbilt (singles)
NB 9:30 a.m. Texas vs. Texas A&M (singles)
Saturday, January 19
8:00 a.m. Miami vs. Vanderbilt (doubles)
8:00 a.m. Texas vs. Texas A&M (doubles)
NB 9:30 a.m. Miami vs. Texas A&M (singles)
NB 9:30 a.m. Texas vs. Vanderbilt (singles)
Sunday, January 20
8:00 a.m. Miami vs. Texas A&M (doubles)
8:00 a.m. Texas vs. Vanderbilt (doubles)
NB 9:30 a.m. Miami vs. Texas (singles)
NB 9:30 a.m. Texas A&M vs. Vanderbilt (singles)
*NB = Not Before (matches will not start before this time)