AUBURN, Ala. – The 10th-ranked Texas A&M women’s tennis team wrapped up its regular-season road schedule with a 4-2 victory against No. 21 Auburn today at the Yarbrough Tennis Center indoor courts.
"This afternoon was a very good win for us in beating a top-25 team on the road,” A&M head coach Howard Joffe said. “More than anything, I am delighted with the level of maturity and lack of panic we displayed given the fact that we have been short-handed for the past few weeks."
With the victory, the Aggies improve to 15-5 overall and retain sole possession of fifth place in the Southeastern Conference standings at 8-3. Auburn, which was attempting to move into a tie with the Aggies, falls to 16-7 overall and 6-5 in SEC matches.
A&M once again had to alter its lineup as sophomore Ines Deheza missed her second consecutive match with an injury. A&M’s Rutuja Bhosale and Anna Mamalat, 6-0 at their usual No. 3 doubles position, had to move up and play the No. 2 line for only the second time this year. The Tigers capitalized, taking the initial lead in the quest for the doubles point after Jackie Kasler and Jen Pfeifler held off the Aggie pair, 8-5.
Thirty-ninth ranked Stefania Hristov and Cristina Stancu then evened the pursuit as they broke away from a 6-6 tie to defeat 19th-ranked Pleun Burgmans and Emily Flickinger, 8-6, at the top of the lineup. It was only the second loss in a dual match for the Tiger tandem, which fell to 14-2, including 7-2 in SEC matches only. Meanwhile, Hristov and Stancu improved to 10-3 in dual matches, including 6-1 in conference contests.
A&M’s Saska Gavrilovska and Jana McCord, playing together for only the second time in a dual match, then clinched the point for the Aggies. The all-freshmen duo held a narrow 5-4 edge against Michala Kucharova and Paula de Man at No. 3 doubles before reeling off three consecutive games to win the match, 8-4, and give the Aggies a 1-0 lead.
A&M would hold the lead for the remainder of the match. Stancu won her 10th consecutive singles match in convincing fashion and put the Aggies ahead, 2-0, after quickly disposing of 32nd-ranked Burgmans, 6-2, 6-2, at first singles. Stancu, ranked a career-high No. 12 in the national singles rankings, remains unbeaten in SEC play with a 7-0 record, all at the No. 1 position, and she improved to 28-7 overall, including 18-4 against ranked opponents.
Kasler cut the Aggies’ lead to 2-1, putting the Tigers on the scoreboard with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Mamalat at the No. 5 line.
Although trailing by only a point, Auburn was unable to delete the deficit. Bhosale was down 4-2 in the opening set against Kucharova at No. 4 singles before rallying to win 11 of the next 12 games to close out a 7-5, 6-0 victory that put the Aggies ahead, 3-1.
"The play of Rutuja Bhosale and Cristina Stancu was likely the highlight of the day,” Joffe said. “Both beat strong players very handily."
Auburn once again got within a point at 3-2 following Pfeifler’s 6-0, 6-3 win at No. 6 against Aggie freshman Mason Strickland, who was playing her first SEC match. But the Tigers were unable to get any closer as Hristov soon after clinched the team victory for the Aggies. After winning four consecutive games to close out a 6-2 first-set win over de Man, Hristov eventually broke away from a 4-4 tie in the second set to get the 7-5 win and secure A&M’s 4-2 victory.
Gavrilovska had dropped her first set to 75th-ranked Flickinger, 7-5, and the second set was knotted at 6-6 when play was stopped.
A&M, which was making its first-ever appearance at Auburn, improves to 5-0 in the all-time series against the Tigers.
After playing four consecutive road matches, the Aggies close out their regular-season 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, where the Aggies are a perfect 9-0. Stancu, A&M’s lone senior, will be honored following 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.
No. 10 Texas A&M 4, No. 21 Auburn 2
Yarbrough Tennis Center (indoor)
April 6, 2014
1. #12 Cristina Stancu (TAMU) def. #32 Pleun Burgmans (AU), 6-2, 6-2
2. #62 Saska Gavrilovska (TAMU) vs. #75 Emily Flickinger (AU), 5-7, 6-6, unfinished
3. Stefania Hristov (TAMU) def. Paula de Man (AU), 6-2, 7-5
4. Rutuja Bhosale (TAMU) def. Michala Kucharova (AU), 7-5, 6-0
5. Jackie Kasler (AU) def. #109 Anna Mamalat (TAMU), 6-4, 6-1
6. Jen Pfeifler (AU) def. Mason Strickland (TAMU), 6-0, 6-3
Doubles (TAMU wins the point)
1. #39 Hristov/Stancu (TAMU) def. #19 Burgmans/Flickinger (AU), 8-6
2. Kasler/Pfeifler (AU) def. Bhosale/Mamalat (TAMU), 8-5
3. Jana McCord/Gavrilovska (TAMU) def. Kucharova/de Man (AU), 8-4
Order of finish
Singles: 1, 5, 4, 6, 3
Doubles: 2, 1, 3
Texas A&M: 15-5, 8-3 SEC
Auburn: 16-7, 6-5 SEC