ANN ARBOR, Mich.- The 23rd-ranked Texas A&M women’s tennis team got a crucial road victory, defeating No. 25 Michigan, 5-2, today at the Varsity Tennis Center.
With the win, A&M improves to 11-2 and stays tied with the 1997, 2001 and 2002 squads for the all-time best start after 13 matches.
Michigan suffers its fifth consecutive loss – four against Top-25 teams, including three losses to top-10 teams. The Wolverines fall to 3-5.
“This was a very good win for us at their indoor home courts, and we are extremely happy to come away with this,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “It was a very tough, hard-fought match. This match could have gone either way.”
The Aggies won two of the three doubles matches to take a 1-0 lead against the Wolverines. Michigan won the first doubles contest as Kara Delicata and Jenny Kuehn defeated Tiffany Clifford and Sarah Foster, 8-3, at the No. 1 line.
A&M’s 34th-ranked duo of Anna Lubinsky and Nicki Mechem dropped the first two games against Lindsey Howard and Chisako Sugiyama but then won eight straight games to win the match at the No. 2 line and extend their winning streak to 10 matches.
The point clincher came down to No. 3, where A&M’s Anna Blagodarova and Michelle Sammons held off Elizabeth Exon and Allie Shafner in a tiebreaker. The Aggies had built a three-game lead at 7-4 but the Michigan duo tied the score at 7-7, fighting off a match-point at 7-6. Exon and Shafner then took an 8-7 lead, but A&M took the next game to send the match to a tiebreaker. Michigan scored the first point, but A&M rallied for three straight points and never trailed en route to winning the tiebreaker, 7-3.
“This was the first time the doubles point has come down to the last match standing,” Kleinecke said. “When you get in tight situations, you learn about yourself, and you can use that to help you become a better player and a better team. We are going to be able to take that experience and use it. We fought very hard and came away with a win in a crucial situation.”
Elze Potgieter, playing the No. 3 line against Exon, put the Aggies ahead, 2-0. Potgieter won the first set, 6-2, and was up 4-0 in the second when Exon retired.
Clifford defeated Shafner, 6-1, 6-2, at No. 6 and gave the Aggies a 3-0 lead before Michigan got on the scoreboard. The Wolverines picked up their first point as Delicata defeated Blagodarova, 7-5, 6-1, at No. 4.
Lubinsky, ranked 65th in singles, then clinched the victory for A&M, defeating No. 43 Jenny Kuehn, 6-2, 7-5 at the No. 1 line. Lubinsky recorded her 101 career victory, tying Mechem for the school record for most wins.
“A big key today was Anna Lubinsky stepping up and beating Jenny Kuehn at No. 1,” Kleinecke said. “Jenny is someone who has played at the top of the lineup at Tulane and now Michigan. She is a very good player, a fifth-year senior, and that was a big win for Anna and for us.”
Tania Mahtani posted Michigan’s only other point. After dropping the first set, 6-1, to Mechem at No. 5, Mahtani took advantage of 4-1 leads in each of the next two sets to down Mechem 7-5, 6-1.
Foster then capped the match for A&M, defeating 49th-ranked Sugiyama, 6-4, 7-6. Foster had trailed, 5-4 and 6-5 in the second set before tying it at 6-all to force the tiebreaker. Foster then broke away from a 5-5 score to win the tiebreaker, 7-5, and clinch the ranked win.
“(Michigan) is a team that has a win over Vanderbilt, which started out ranked in the top 15,” Kleinecke said. “I know there are some things that we need to work on, but just looking at the positives of coming away with this win, it is going to really help us.”
The Aggies continue their four-match road swing next week as they take on Middle Tennessee State on March 12 in Murfreesburo, Tenn., and then face No. 17 Vanderbilt in Nashville on March 13.
Live scoring of all A&M women’s tennis matches is available at AggieAthletics.com.
No. 23 Texas A&M 5, No. 25 Michigan 2
1. (#65) Anna Lubinsky (A&M) def. (#43) Jenny Kuhn (UM), 6-2, 7-5
2. Sarah Foster (A&M) def. (#49) Chisako Sugivama (UM), 6-4, 7-6 (5)
3. (#36) Elze Potgieter (A&M) def. Elizabeth Exon (UM), 6-2, 4-0 (retired)
4. Kara Delicata (UM) def. Anna Blagodarova (A&M), 7-5, 6-1
5. Tania Mahtani (UM) def. Nicki Mechem (A&M), 1-6, 7-5, 6-1
6. Tiffany Clifford (A&M) def. Allie Shafner (UM), 6-1, 6-2
Doubles (A&M wins the point)
1. Delicata/Kuehn (UM) def. Clifford/Foster (A&M), 8-3
2. (#34) Lubinsky/Mechem (A&M) def. Lindsey Howard/Sugiyama (UM), 8-2
3. Blagodarova/Michelle Sammons (A&M) def. Exon/Shafner, 9-8 (3)
Order of finish (D1, D2, D3, S3, S6, S4, S1*, S5, S2)
Varsity Tennis Center (Attendance: n/a)
Team records: Texas A&M (11-2); Michigan (3-5)