COLLEGE STATION, Texas – All nine members of the seventh-ranked Texas A&M women’s tennis team will be competing in the National Collegiate Tennis Classic this weekend at the Sunrise Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The event, which runs Friday to Sunday, is the Aggies’ final tune-up before hosting Mississippi State in A&M’s dual match season opener on Saturday, Jan. 25 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
Other schools represented in the 32-player singles bracket and the 16-team doubles bracket are defending national champion and top-ranked Stanford, Southern California, UCLA, Pepperdine, San Diego, South Carolina and Wake Forest.
“The caliber of the tournament is actually awful strong,” said Howard Joffe, who is in his third season as head coach of the Aggies. “The opposition will be strong but it will hopefully get us a little bit more ready for the dual matches. In the case of our team, with the injuries we have had and the inexperience we have, it is absolutely a critical item. We definitely need to get some matches. Any head coach will tell you they are anxious to get the matches.
“The weather has been rather cruel with the polar vortex or whatever it was that moved through last week, but I have to give our young team credit; the amount of work we have been able to do has been focused and disciplined, and I’m very pleased with them. They are pretty excited to compete and play some matches, especially some of our freshmen who didn’t get to play that much in the fall.”
Joffe returns five letterwinners from last year’s history-making team that was an all-time high No. 3 in the final ranking after going 26-4 and advancing to the NCAA national championship match, where A&M fell to Stanford, 4-3. Joffe will be counting on one senior, four sophomores and four freshmen this season as the Aggies aim to defend their Southeastern Conference title and make another run at the national championship.
The Aggies are led by lone senior Cristina Stancu, who enters the spring ranked a career-high No. 14 in the ITA singles rankings released Jan. 3. She is No. 22 in doubles with sophomore partner Stefania Hristov. In addition, sophomore Ines Deheza and freshman Rutuja Bhosale are No. 51 in the preseason doubles rankings.
Also returning are sophomores Paula Deheza and Anna Mamalat. Freshmen Saska Gavrilovska, Jana McCord and Mason Strickland round out the 2014 squad.
Season tickets for the Mitchell Tennis Center Stadium Club, which offers covered, courtside seating exclusively to season ticket holders, are on sale for $125 each and are good for all men’s and women’s regular-season home matches. Season tickets can be purchased here, by phone at 888-992-4443, or in person at the Ticket Center’s Kyle Field location.
Visit AggieAthletics.com for more information on Texas A&M women’s tennis. Aggie fans also can keep up to date with the A&M women’s tennis team on Twitter by following @AggieWTEN or on Facebook.