COLLEGE STATION, TX -- The Texas A&M women’s tennis team is No. 17 in the final Campbell/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings, released late Tuesday. It marks A&M’s first top-20 final ranking since tying for 16th in 2004, and it is the third highest season-end ranking in school history, with the record being No. 15 in 1986.
"The best thing that our No. 17 year-end ranking says is the extent to which it speaks to our program's trajectory,” Aggie first-year coach Howard Joffe said. “Standing alone, No. 17 isn't an endpoint for our ladies or our program, but it does reflect the hard work and investment of our ladies, our coaches and all at A&M who have supported us so well over this past year."
Joffe (pronounced joff-ee) directed the Aggies to a 19-6 record and their first appearance in the second round of the NCAA Championship in four years. A&M, No. 33 in the final rankings a year ago, began the 2012 spring season with a narrow 4-3 loss to Ole Miss but then won a record-setting 13 consecutive matches, obliterating the previous record of nine straight wins which had stood since 1986.
The Aggies went 7-2 in Big 12 Conference matches, including a 4-3 victory over then-No. 6 Texas, marking the second highest ranked win in program history behind a victory against No. 5 Southern California in 2004. A&M, which tied Baylor and Texas for second place in the conference standings, also reached the finals of the Big 12 Championship for the first time since 2004 after knocking off the six-time defending champion and 12th-ranked Lady Bears in the semifinals.
Joffe loses only two seniors from the 2012 squad: four-year letterwinners Lauren Santacroce and Sheri Olivier. Among those returning next year will be senior-to-be Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar, the Big 12 player and newcomer of the year who was granted automatic All-America distinction by being the No. 7 seed at the NCAA Singles Championship, as well as seniors-to-be Nazari Urbina and Wen Sun. The three posted a combined 61-10 (.859) record at the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 singles lines.
Joffe also adds blue chip recruit Anna Mamalat from Philadelphia, who by herself has A&M’s incoming class tied for 15th-best according to Tennis Recruiting Network, and he expects to add to the recruiting class before 2013.
"We have a hungry, talented and experienced group coming back next year, as well as a recruiting class that in my view is unmatched nationally,” Joffe said. “On this basis we expect to break new ground in the 2012-13 season and see the Aggie women's tennis program continue to surge forward."
Florida of the Southeastern Conference is No. 1 in the final team rankings after winning its second consecutive national championship. The teams listed in the top 20 of the final ITA rankings are as follows:
4. Southern California
8. North Carolina
9. Miami (Fla.)
17. TEXAS A&M
18. Ole Miss
19. Notre Dame
20. Georgia Tech