COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M sophomore Anna Mamalat fought off three set points to post a crucial straight-set victory that clinched the seventh-ranked Aggies’ 4-0 win against LSU on a blustery day at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
It was the fifth consecutive win for the Aggies, who improve to 8-0 at home, 11-3 overall and 5-1 in Southeastern Conference matches.
LSU, which had made things interesting by winning three first sets in singles, falls to 8-7 overall and 1-5 in SEC play. It was also the Tigers’ sixth consecutive loss in the series against the Aggies.
A&M won its seventh consecutive doubles point and improved to 10-0 in SEC doubles matches only en route to a 1-0 lead against the Tigers.
Rutuja Bhosale and Anna Mamalat ran their win streak to six and improved to 4-0 in dual matches by defeating Gabriel Otero and Abby Owens, 8-3, at the No. 3 line. The Tiger tandem, which entered the match riding a six-match winning streak and boasting a 3-0 mark in SEC play, dropped the first four games and was unable to recover.
Less than a minute later, A&M’s 23rd-ranked pair of Stefania Hristov and Cristina Stancu secured the doubles point, completing an 8-0 victory over Ariel Morton and Noel Scott at the No. 1 court. It was the fifth consecutive victory for Hristov and Stancu, who improved to 3-0 in conference matches.
Ines Deheza and Saska Gavrilovska, who also are enjoying a five-match win streak and lead the Aggies with a 4-0 mark in SEC matches only, were ahead, 5-3, against LSU’s Skylar Holloway and Joana Vale Costa at the No. 2 line when the doubles point was decided and their match was stopped.
Bhosale put the Aggies ahead 2-0 at the start of singles with a straight-set win at No. 5. The freshman jumped out to a 5-2 lead against Ella Taylor in the opening set. Taylor got within 5-4 before Bhosale closed out the set and then posted a commanding 6-1 second-set win to post her first conference win of the season and snap a two-match losing skid.
Stancu, ranked No. 14 in singles, had easily won her first set, 6-1, against 69th-ranked Vale Costa at the top of the lineup but had to dig out of a hole in the second set. Stancu lost the first three games but then reeled off five consecutive games to take a 5-3 lead. Vale Costa then broke to get within 5-4 before Stancu broke back to close out the victory, giving A&M a 3-0 lead.
Despite the deficit, LSU was still very much in the match after winning first sets on three courts, and although Otero had dropped her first set against Mamalat, she appeared to be on her way to earning a split. Mamalat had trailed 4-2 in the opening set and took her first lead at 5-4. Mamalat then held serve to close out the set.
It was Mamalat who took the 4-2 lead in the second set, but Otero fought her way back and eventually took a 6-5 lead. Mamalat then won the next game to tie the score, 6-6, and force a tiebreaker. Otero jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker and was primed to close out the set after building a 6-3 advantage before Mamalat began chipping away at the deficit. Mamalat fought off three set points to tie score at 6-6. She then won the next two points to get the pivotal win.
Holloway was within a game of wining at No. 6 as she held a 6-4, 3-6, 5-1 lead over A&M’s Jana McCord before Mamalat clinched the win for the Aggies. Owens and Hristov had split at No. 5, and Owens was up, 4-3, in the third set, and Deheza and Scott had split sets at No. 2, with Scott winning the opener 7-6 (6), and Deheza winning the second set, 6-4, but the matches went unfinished.
The Aggies, winners of eight of their last eight matches overall take a break from SEC play with a non-conference match at former Big 12 foe and 17th-ranked Baylor on Wednesday. First serve is at 5 p.m. at the Hurd Tennis Center in Waco. The match has been designated by the USTA as a College MatchDay contest and will be broadcast on ESPN3. A&M narrowly defeated the Bears, 4-3, in a match earlier this season in College Station.
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.
Texas A&M Head Coach Howard Joffe Quotes:
(On the windy conditions)
The wind was absolutely awful. It is definitely no excuse for LSU or for Texas A&M, but it just makes it very difficult to perform well and play good tennis. It is the case though that everyone’s schedule is just so tight, and one doesn’t play, the alternative is miserable. The visiting team has to come back, and so I give LSU a lot of credit for being good sports and agreeing to play in it. I don’t know if that helped them or hindered us or vice versa, but it is the case that with the SEC’s schedule, you don’t really want to not play the match.
(On Mamalat’s victory)
I didn’t see it because I wasn’t on that side, but inherently all these matches are really difficult. Obviously we are very fortunate, it sounds like we caught a break, and you have to give Mamalat a lot of credit because 5-2 down and then 6-3 down, she hung in pretty good and saved us an awful long afternoon. And Sasha was out with an injury, so Anna was playing a higher spot. You have to give Mamalat a lot of credit. If you look at her record, until our match against Vanderbilt, she was the loser of six matches in a row. And all she has done in the last two weeks is clinch the match against Vanderbilt, which was ahead of us, and today managed to shut the door before things got even more hairy.
No. 7 Texas A&M 4, No. 57 LSU 0
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
College Station, Texas
March 16, 2014
1. #14 Cristina Stancu (TAMU) def. #69 Joana Vale Costa (LSU), 6-1, 6-4
2. Ines Deheza (TAMU) vs. Noel Scott (LSU), 6-7 (6), 6-4, unfinished
3. #110 Anna Mamalat (TAMU) def. Gabrielle Otero (LSU), 6-4, 7-6 (6)
4. Stefania Hristov (TAMU) vs. Abigail Owens (LSU), 4-6, 6-2, 3-4
5. Rutuja Bhosale (TAMU) def. Ella Taylor (LSU), 6-4, 6-1
6. Jana McCord (TAMU) vs. Skylar Holloway (LSU), 4-6, 6-3, 1-5 unfinished
Doubles (A&M wins the points)
1. #23 Hristov/Stancu (TAMU) def. Ariel Morton/Scott (LSU), 8-0
2. #60 Deheza/Gavrilovska (TAMU) vs. Holloway/Vale Costa (LSU), 5-3 unfinished
3. Bhosale/Mamalat (TAMU) def. Otero/Owens (LSU), 8-3
Order of finish
Singles: 5, 1, 3
Doubles: 3, 1
Texas A&M: 11-3, 5-1 SEC
LSU: 8-7, 1-5 SEC