COLLEGE STATION, TX -- The Texas A&M women’s tennis team puts its record-setting 13-match winning streak and its undefeated Big 12 Conference record on the line as the 21st-ranked Aggies battle No. 12 Baylor in a crucial conference showdown Thursday in Waco.
First serve is slated for 6 p.m. at the Hurd Tennis Center, and admission is free.
A&M, which has lost the last 12 meetings against the seven-time reigning Big 12 regular-season champion Lady Bears, is 13-1 overall and 4-0 in conference play as the Aggies prepare to face their highest ranked opponent thus far into the spring season. Most recently, A&M posted its fourth consecutive 6-1 decision after disposing of the Kansas Jayhawks on Sunday in College Station.
Baylor is 17-5 overall and 4-1 in Big 12 play after winning all six singles matches in a 6-1 victory against 42nd-ranked Oklahoma State on Sunday in Waco. It was the fifth consecutive win for the Lady Bears, whose only conference loss was a 4-3 setback to then 20th-ranked Texas Tech in the league opener on March 1 in Waco.
“The match comes down to how we play on Thursday night in Waco and how well Baylor plays,” Aggie first-year head coach Howard Joffe said. “I fully expect it to be hotly contested by Baylor. They have dominated the league for the last five or 10 years, but as well as the Longhorns are playing this season and with Baylor already picking up one loss, if they lose to us, that would probably eliminate them from their umpteenth Big 12 title. So on that basis, I expect Baylor to dig in their heels and present some stout competition.”
Seventh-ranked and reigning Big 12 Player of the Week Cristina Sanchez Quintanar continues to be the highest ranked singles player in the league and is one of three A&M players to be listed in the national singles rankings. The junior from Spain is 14-0 in dual matches, including 10-0 at the No. 1 line and 4-0 in Big 12 matches. She is 27-4 overall, including 10-3 against ranked opponents.
A&M also is a perfect 4-0 in conference matches at the Nos. 2 and 3 singles lines. Nazari Urbina, the winner of her last 10 matches overall and ranked No. 101 in the nation, is 4-0 at No. 2 in Big 12 contests. She is 12-2 in dual matches, having seen action at the top two lines.
No. 73rd-ranked Wen Sun is 4-0 in Big 12 matches at the No. 3 line. The junior is riding a nine-match winning streak overall and sports a 12-2 dual record.
Lauren Santacroce is 3-1 in league play at the No. 4 court, and Janelle Cuthbertson, Janine Erasmus and Sheri Olivier are a combined 4-3 at the No. 5 and 6 lines.
Although A&M does not have any ranked doubles teams, the Aggies have been quite successful, winning the doubles point in each of the last 13 matches and boasting a combined 33-8 record at the No. 1-3 lines. Cuthbertson and Urbina are riding a team-best 11-match winning streak and are 11-1 at the No. 2 position, including 4-0 in Big 12 matches. The senior tandem of Sheri Olivier and Lauren Santacroce is tied with Cuthbertson and Urbina for most doubles victories with an 11-2 mark at the No. 3 line, and Sanchez-Quintanar and Sun are 10-4 in dual matches, including 3-1 in conference matches at No. 1 doubles.
Baylor boasts three nationally ranked singles players, including No. 13 Diana Nakic and No. 24 Nina Secerbegovic, who also are undefeated in Big 12 matches with 5-0 records at the No. 1 and 2 lines, respectively.
Sona Novakova, who is riding a team-best seven-match winning streak, is ranked 46th in singles and is 4-1 in Big 12 matches. She teams with Nakic in doubles, and the tandem sports a team-leading 10-3 record, all at the No. 2 line.
In other notes, Baylor’s Jordaan Sanford and A&M’s Sanchez-Quintanar were doubles partners at Maryland last season and were No. 26 in the final national rankings after earning a berth in the 2011 NCAA Doubles Championship. Baylor assistant coach Alison Ojeda was an assistant coach at Texas A&M in 2003 and 2004, helping direct the Aggies to a Big 12 regular-season title in 2003 and their only Big 12 Champion tournament trophy in 2004.
A&M owns a narrow 20-19 lead in the all-time series since 1980 but has not defeated the Lady Bears since 2004. Last year, Baylor topped A&M, 5-2, during the regular season in College Station and 4-2 at the Big 12 Championship in Waco.