ATHENS, Ga. – After admittedly playing one of her worst matches of the season in her first-round victory at the NCAA Singles Championship yesterday, Texas A&M’s Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar settled in and cruised to a 6-2, 6-0 second-round victory over 31st-ranked Joelle Kissell of North Carolina State this morning at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex on the University of Georgia campus.
“I played much better today,” the junior from Campo de Criptana, Spain said. “I was a little more relaxed and a lot more comfortable today.”
Sanchez-Quintanar, the No. 7 seed in the 64-player field, nearly didn’t make it past the first round, finding herself down triple match point but then rallying to defeat 52nd-ranked Alexa Guarachi of Alabama, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (3) in yesterday’s opener.
“Today I was feeling the ball better and was more used to the court,” Sanchez-Quintanar said. “My first serve was working, my shots were going where I wanted them to go, and as the match went on, I just got a lot more confident in my entire game. Today when the ball was coming, I was not scared or nervous, and in the last two or three games of the match, I was playing my best. It felt nice to play better today.”
Sanchez-Quintanar broke Kissell’s serve in her first two opportunities to jump out to a 3-0 lead at the start of the match and led the entire contest as she improved to 39-5.
Sanchez-Quintanar, who opens doubles play this afternoon with partner Wen Sun, becomes only the third player in A&M history to reach the round of 16, joining Helga Vieira (2005) and Kim Labuschagne, who advanced to the quarterfinals in 1987.
Sanchez-Quintanar will take on a familiar foe in the round of 16 on Friday, as she will face the winner between 16th-ranked Diana Nakic of Baylor and 29th-ranked Petra Niedermayerova of Kansas State. Sanchez-Quintanar, the 2012 Big 12 Conference Player of the Year after going 9-0 in league action, went a combined 4-0 against the two during the Big 12 regular season and in the conference tournament. All four matches were hard-fought straight-set victories.
Nakic, a No. 9-16 seed, did post a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Sanchez-Quintanar in the finals of the ITA Texas Regional in October. Sanchez-Quintanar also played Niedermayerova, the 2011 Big 12 Player of the Year, once in the fall, defeating the Wildcat, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3, in the consolation quarterfinals at the ITA National Indoor Championships.
“No matter who I play, it is going to be really hard,” Sanchez-Quintanar said. “They are the two best players that I played in the Big 12. They fight hard and are just really good players.”