COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas A&M second-year women's tennis coach Howard Joffe announced the Aggies' 2012-13 schedule, which includes up to eight challenging tournaments in the fall and a plethora of exciting, top-quality matches in the spring as the Aggies embark on their inaugural season in the Southeastern Conference.
“In an effort to continue to elevate the Aggie women’s tennis program, it is critical that we play a schedule that is as strong as any in the nation,” Joffe said. “Without question the 2012-13 schedule is one that will offer tremendous challenges to our group. At the same time it will offer our ladies many opportunities.”
The fall season will open with a slew of tough tournaments that will prepare the team for its taxing spring matches. Such competitions include the season-opening Duke Invitational, Sept. 14-16 in Cary, N.C., the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, Sept. 29-Oct. 7 in Pacific Palisades, Calif., the ITA Texas Regional, Oct. 19-23 in Waco, and the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, Nov. 8-11 in Flushing, N.Y.
In the spring, the Aggies, who were No. 17 in the 2012 ITA final ranking, will face 18 teams that also were listed in the final rankings, including nine teams that were ranked in the top 25. Highlighting the spring schedule are 10 home matches against ranked opponents, including a contest against two-time defending national champion and No. 1-ranked Florida on March 3 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. Other highly notable matches are home meetings against No. 6 Georgia on March 31 and No. 11 Alabama on April 7, as well as a home-and-home series against former Big 12 Conference nemesis and 13th-ranked Baylor.
“The schedule is littered with top 10 teams,” Joffe said. “Most significantly will be the home match against national champion Florida, and Georgia, Alabama, Baylor, Virginia, Michigan and Tennessee are all teams that are or have recently been in the top 10. I don’t believe we have a single match on our schedule that doesn’t represent a challenge for us.”
Texas A&M opens its spring season January 20 on the road against Rice, which advanced to the round of 16 at the2012 NCAA tournament and was No. 30 in the final ranking. The Aggies will then host the four-team ITA Kickoff at the Mitchell Tennis Center, Jan. 26-27. A&M takes on North Texas in the first round, with the Aggies facing either Minnesota or Arizona in the second round, and the winner advances to the prestigious ITA National Team Indoor Championship, Feb. 8-11 at Virginia. A&M closes out non-conference play against No. 14 Michigan, which eliminated A&M in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Championship, and Baylor.
SEC play will commence against NCAA second-round qualifier South Carolina on March 1, followed by the meeting against the defending national champion Gators. The SEC Championship tournament will be April 17-21 at Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss.
A&M returns three letterwinners from last year's team that went 19-6 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. In addition, Joffe welcomes six newcomers, including two who will join the team in January.
“In Cristina Sanchez, Nazari Urbina, and Wen Sun, we have our top three players returning from last year which ought to afford us an element of experience and stability,” Joffe said. “We have added Anna Mamalat, Cristina Stancu, Stefania Hristov and Alyssa Caffey this fall and will add two other scholarship players in January. With six new Aggies on our roster of nine, our challenges as a group are obvious. There is no question that all the newcomers bring tennis resumes that would make most collegiate coaches salivate. Our group will have the fall semester to prepare, so that we might approximate the resume successes on the courts in real matches this spring.”
For the complete schedule, go to AggieAthletics.com.
2012 final ITA team rankings (A&M’s 2013 opponents are bolded):
4. University of Southern California
8. North Carolina
9. Miami (Fla.)
17. Texas A&M
19. Notre Dame
20. Georgia Tech
22. Texas Tech
31. South Carolina
55. North Texas