COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Sixth-ranked Texas A&M picked up its biggest win in school history Sunday afternoon, knocking off two-time defending national champion and fourth-ranked Florida, 4-3, at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
It is the sixth consecutive victory for the Aggies (8-1, 2-0 SEC), whose previous highest ranked win was against No. 5 USC in 2004 when A&M head coach Howard Joffe was an assistant for the Women of Troy.
Florida, which entered the contest riding a 37-match winning streak in SEC regular season matches, suffers its first conference loss since April 5, 2009, and falls to 7-2 overall and 1-1 in league play.
The nail-biting clincher came down to the last match singles standing, where 53rd-ranked Alexandra Cercone of Florida and A&M’s Nazari Urbina, ranked No. 67, would battle for three sets at the No. 3 line. Urbina had squandered two set points in the opening frame as Cercone came back from a 5-4 deficit to take a 6-5 lead. Urbina then tied the set to force a tiebreaker, but Cercone would pull away for an 8-6 win to take the first set.
After dropping the first two games of the second set, Urbina took the lead at 3-2. She would later hold a 4-3 lead and then won the next two games to close out the set and force a decisive third set. Urbina continued her streak into the third set, taking a commanding 5-0 lead before Cercone won her first game after losing seven straight. Urbina then closed out the match, serving an unreturnable ball to cap the team’s monumental win.
The Aggies, who were picked to win the SEC Western Division, opened the match by winning the crucial doubles point against the preseason overall SEC-favorite Gators. A&M’s 11th-ranked duo of Stefania Hristov and Cristina Stancu got a clutch ranked win against No. 15 Lauren Embree and Sofie Oyen on the No. 1 court. The teams were on serve with A&M holding a 7-6 lead when the Aggie duo broke Florida for only the second time in the match to win, 8-6.
A&M’s all-freshman tandem of twin sisters Ines and Paula Deheza would give the Aggies the 1-0 lead by defeating Cercone and Brianna Morgan, 8-4, at the No. 3 line. The Dehezas trailed, 4-2, before reeling off six consecutive games to win and put A&M ahead.
A&M’s Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Wen Sun held a 7-5 lead over Danielle Collins and Carolina Hitimana at 7-5 when the point was decided and play was stopped.
Florida, which fields nationally ranked players at every singles position, quickly tied the score at 1-1 at the start of singles as 114th-ranked Morgan defeated Sun, 6-2, 6-1 at the No. 4 line.
Stancu, a junior transfer from Maryland currently ranked No. 83 in the nation in singles, returned the lead to the Aggies as she posted the highest ranked win in her collegiate career with a 7-5, 6-0 victory over 11th-ranked Oyen at the No. 2 line. Stancu had trailed Oyen, who was No. 1 in the preseason rankings on January 3, 5-4, in the opening set before winning nine consecutive games to close out the straight-set victory.
Collins, ranked No. 76, countered with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Hristov at No. 5 to tie the score at 2-2. Florida then took its first lead of the match with a win at No. 1 singles. In a battle of top 10 players, Embree, the No. 1 singles player in the nation, held off sixth-ranked Sanchez-Quintanar, 6-4, 7-5, to hand the A&M senior her first loss in dual match play and put the Gators up 3-2.
Aggie freshman Anna Mamalat tied the match for the third and final time with a three-set victory at the No. 6 line. Mamalat won the first set against Olivia Janowicz, 6-4, but Janowicz raced to a 6-1 win in the second set.
Mamalat got back on track to start the third set, winning the first two games. Janowicz, however, rallied for three consecutive games to go up 3-2. The match was back on serve with Mamalat leading 4-3 when the Philadelphia native broke Janowicz to go up 5-3. With A&M serving for the match, Janowicz won the game to get within 5-4 before Mamalat closed out the 6-4 win in the third to tie the team score at 3-3, leaving it up to Urbina to come through with the win.
The Aggies, who improve to 5-0 in home matches, hit the road for the first time in conference play next weekend, taking on No. 12 Vanderbilt in Nashville on Friday and No. 53 Kentucky in Lexington on Sunday.
Free live scoring will be available on AggieAthletics.com. 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: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Aggie-Womens-Tennis/143874782434654
No. 6 Texas A&M 4, No. 4 Florida 3
March 3, 2013
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
College Station, Texas
1. #1 Lauren Embree (UF) def. #6 Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar (TAMU), 6-4, 7-5
2. #83 Cristina Stancu (TAMU) def. #11 Sofie Oyen (UF), 7-5, 6-0
3. #67 Nazari Urbina (TAMU) def. #53 Alexandra Cercone (UF), 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1
4. #114 Brianna Morgan (UF) def. Wen Sun (TAMU), 6-2, 6-1
5. #76 Danielle Collins (UF) def. Stefania Hristov (TAMU), 6-3, 6-4
6. Anna Mamalat (TAMU) def. #109 Olivia Janowicz (UF), 6-4, 1-6, 6-4
Doubles (Texas A&M wins the point)
1. #11 Hristov/Stancu (TAMU def. #15 Embree/Oyen (UF), 8-6
2. Sanchez-Quintanar/Sun (TAMU) vs. Collins/Caroline Hitimana (UF), 7-5 unfinished
3. Ines Deheza/Paula Deheza (TAMU) def. Cercone/Morgan (UF), 8-4
Order of finish
Doubles: 1, 3
Singles: 4, 2, 5, 1, 6, 3
Texas A&M: 8-1, 2-0 SEC
Florida: 7-2, 1-1 SEC