Texas A&M, Alabama Meet in Top 10 Showdown

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Tenth-ranked Texas A&M and No. 5 Alabama will battle to keep their Southeastern Conference title hopes alive when the two teams face off Friday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

First serve against the Crimson Tide is at 5 p.m. at the Alabama Tennis Stadium, and a link to the live scoring of the match is available at AggieAthletics.com.

A&M, 7-2 in SEC play and 14-4 overall, is tied with Florida for fourth place in the SEC standings with four matches remaining. Alabama, 16-3 overall, is a game ahead of the Aggies and tied with Georgia for second place with an 8-1 conference record. At 9-1, Vanderbilt is atop the standings and holds a half-game lead over the Tide and Bulldogs. The Commodores’ only SEC loss was against Texas A&M.

The Aggies, 2-2 against top-10 opponents and 10-4 against all ranked opponents, is in the midst of a challenging four-match road swing. Last week, A&M saw its seven-match win streak come to an end as the Aggies fell at No. 9 Georgia, 4-0, on Friday. A&M quickly returned to the win column with a 4-0 victory at No. 39 Tennessee on Sunday.

Alabama, 8-0 in home matches, also is coming off a 1-1 weekend in which the Tide suffered a 4-2 setback at No. 10 Vanderbilt for their first SEC loss of the season. Alabama then defeated Kentucky, 4-0, in its next outing.

The Aggies are a combined 14-2 in SEC doubles matches and have won the doubles point in every SEC match other than the match at Georgia. Freshman Rutuja Bhosale and sophomore Anna Mamalat enter the Alabama match riding a team-best seven-match win streak at No. 3 doubles. They are 4-0 in SEC matches.

Senior Cristina Stancu and sophomore partner Stefania Hristov are No. 39 in the national doubles rankings. They are 8-3 in dual matches, including 4-1 in conference matches only. Sophomore Ines Deheza and freshman Saska Gavrilovska are 7-1 in dual matches, including 6-1 in SEC matches, all at the No. 2 line.

Stancu is a career-high No. 12 in the singles rankings and is riding a nine-match win streak. She is 27-7 overall, including 6-0 in conference matches, all at the No. 1 court. Gavrilovska is No. 62 in singles, and Mamalat is No. 109.

All three of Alabama’s doubles teams are top 50 in the national rankings. Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe, 10-3 at the No. 1 line, are No. 13 and boast a 6-1 record in SEC play. No. 42 Luicelena Perez and Emily Zabor are 9-3 at the No. 3 position, including 4-2 in conference play, and Mary Anne Daines and Danielle Spielmann are ranked No. 45 with a 12-3 record at second doubles, including a 7-2 SEC record.

At No. 52, Daines is the highest ranked singles player for the Tide. Routliffe, Perez, who is 6-0 in SEC matches and 8-0 overall at the No. 6 line, and Jansen also are in the national rankings at No. 57, 80 and 82, respectively.

The all-time series between the Aggies and the Tide is tied, 2-2, with A&M winning each of the last two meetings. Last year in the first meeting as SEC foes, A&M held off seventh-ranked Alabama, 4-3, on Senior Day in College Station. A&M had never led in the team scoring until, in the last match standing, then-freshman Ines Deheza defeated Alabama senior Antonia Foehse, 6-4, 5-7, 6-1, at No. 4 singles to clinch the win. With the victory, the Aggies took over sole possession of first place in the SEC Western Division and went on to win the division and tie for first for the overall SEC championship.

A&M concludes its SEC regular-season road schedule at No. 21 Auburn on Sunday at the Yarbrough Tennis Center. The start time of the match has been changed to 12 p.m.

The Aggies close out their home schedule next weekend, hosting Ole Miss Friday at 5 p.m. and Mississippi State Sunday at 12 p.m. at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. Stancu, A&M’s lone senior, will be honored prior to the match against the Bulldogs.

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 at Facebook.com/AggieWomensTennis.

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