COLLEGE STATION, Texas – No. 4 Texas A&M closes out its regular-season home schedule Sunday against No. 7 Alabama in a crucial match that will determine the outright leader in the Southeastern Conference Western Division. First serve against the Crimson Tide is slated for noon at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
Both teams enter the match 17-2 overall and 9-1 in SEC contests to lead the SEC West. They are locked in a four-way tie with Florida and Georgia for the overall SEC lead with only two matches remaining after Sunday’s showdown.
“Sunday’s match is a big match, and there is no way to finesse it,” A&M second-year head coach Howard Joffe said. “I’m sure for us it will be anxiety provoking and nerve-wracking, because the reality is we are going to get to play a very good match on Sunday. It will be exciting.”
The match marks the last regular-season appearance for Aggie seniors Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar, Wen Sun and Nazari Urbina at the Mitchell Tennis Center. The three will be honored in the players’ lounge following the match.
The Aggies defeated No. 23 Auburn, 4-0, on Friday to improve to 8-1 in home matches, including a historic 4-3 victory over then-No. 4 Florida at the Mitchell Tennis Center on March 3. The match marked A&M’s highest ranked victory in program history. A&M’s only SEC loss was a 4-2 setback to then-No. 5 Georgia at home on March 31.
Alabama is riding a four-match win streak after knocking off Missouri, 4-0, Friday in Columbia, Mo. The Tide’s only conference loss was a 4-1 decision at Florida on March 22. They close out the regular season next Sunday at SEC Eastern Division co-leader Georgia.
A&M boasts three ranked singles players and two ranked doubles teams. Sanchez-Quintanar is No. 5 in singles and is ranked No. 72 in doubles with Sun. Urbina is No. 55 in singles and sports a perfect 8-0 record in SEC singles matches. Junior Cristina Stancu is No. 68 in singles and No. 7 in doubles with freshman partner Stefania Hristov.
Alabama has four players ranked in the top 125 in singles. Mary Anne Macfarlane leads the team with a No. 26 ranking, and Alexa Guarachi is No. 56. Maya Jansen and Natalia Maynetto are 84th and 113th, respectively.
In doubles, Guarachi and Macfarlane are No. 6 in the nation.
Alabama leads the series against A&M, 2-1. The teams last met in 2000 with the Aggies winning, 7-0, in College Station.