COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The sixth-ranked Texas A&M women’s tennis team puts its five-match winning streak on the line Sunday as the Aggies play host to two-time defending national champion and preseason Southeastern Conference favorite Florida. The match against the fourth-ranked Gators, who feature the No. 1 singles player in the country in Lauren Embree, begins at noon at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
“It is exciting to get to play the two-time defending national champion,” Texas A&M second-year head coach Howard Joffe said. “I’m excited about the match and I’m looking for us to do well. No doubt Florida is a very, very good team, but we also have a very fine team.”
The Aggies, who were picked to win the SEC Western Division and will be facing Florida for the first time in school history, opened league play on Friday, defeating No. 43 South Carolina, 5-2, to improve to 7-1 overall. All seven of A&M’s wins have been against ranked opponents, including a 4-2 victory against Texas for its highest ranked win of the season. The Aggies’ only loss was to current No. 1 and ITA National Team Indoor champion North Carolina.
Florida also is 7-1 overall and 1-0 in SEC play after defeating No. 71 Missouri, 6-1, Friday in Columbia. It was the Gators’ 37th consecutive conference win. Florida’s only loss this season was a 4-0 setback against then-No. 4 Duke on Feb. 17.
Senior Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar leads the Aggies with a No. 6 national ranking in singles and a perfect 7-0 record at the No. 1 court. The All-American is 26-3 overall, including 15-1 against ranked opponents, and she is coming off a 6-1, 6-2 victory against 69th-ranked Jaklin Alawi of South Carolina.
Senior Nazari Urbina, who is 2-1 at third singles, and junior Cristina Stancu, 4-2 at the No. 2 court, join Sanchez-Quintanar in the national singles rankings at No. 67 and No. 83, respectively. Senior Sun Wen, who was No. 82 in the preseason rankings, is 2-1 at No. 4 singles.
Two-time SEC freshman of the week honoree Stefania Hristov has been instrumental for the Aggies in the lower half of the singles lineup and is 7-1 overall, including 5-0 at the No. 6 line. In doubles, Hristov and Stancu lead A&M with a No. 11 national ranking and a 4-2 mark at the No. 1 court.
In addition to Hristov, A&M has relied heavily on three other freshmen. Anna Mamalat has played No. 6 singles in the last two matches and won both in straight sets. In addition, twins Ines and Paula Deheza have won four of their last five doubles matches to improve to 4-1.
All six in Florida’s probable singles lineup are nationally ranked and are led by Embree, who won her 24th straight singles dual match and improved her record to 30-0 in SEC regular-season dual matches at Missouri. Sofie Oyen is No. 11, followed by No. 53 Alexandra Cercone, No. 76 Danielle Collins, No. 109 Olivia Janowicz and 114th-ranked Brianna Morgan. In addition, Embree and Oyen are No. 15 in doubles.
The Aggies, whose highest ranked win in the history of the program was against No. 5 USC in 2004 when Joffe was an assistant for the Women of Troy, will be concluding their longest home stand of the season when they take on the Gators. A&M, 3-0 at the Mitchell Tennis Center this season, hits the road next weekend for its first SEC road matches of the season, taking on No. 12 Vanderbilt in Nashville on Friday and No. 53 Kentucky in Lexington on Sunday.
Season and individual match tickets to Texas A&M home matches can be purchased online anytime at 12thManFoundation.com or during business hours at the Athletic Ticket Office located in The Zone at Kyle Field or by calling the ticket office at 1-888-99-AGGIE or 979-845-2311. Tickets also will be available for purchase on game days at the Mitchell Tennis Center beginning one hour before match time.
Visit AggieAthletics.com for more information on Texas A&M women’s tennis. Aggie fans also can keep up to date with the A&M women’s tennis team on Twitter by following @AggieWTEN or on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Aggie-Womens-Tennis/143874782434654