The 19th-ranked Texas A&M women’s tennis team earned its 13th consecutive and 18th overall bid to the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship and will face soon-to-be conference opponent LSU of the Southeastern Conference in the first round Friday, May 11 at 10 a.m. (9 a.m. Central) at the Varsity Tennis Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan
The winner between A&M, a 17-32 seed, and LSU, a 33-48 seed, advances to the second round to face the winner between host and No. 15-seed Michigan and Illinois-Chicago on Saturday at 1 p.m. (noon Central) in Ann Arbor. The second-round winner advances to the 16-team NCAA Championship to be played at the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., May 17-22.
Live scoring of the matches will be available at AggieAthletics.com.
NCAA FIRST AND SECOND ROUNDS
(Varsity Tennis Center, Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Friday, May 11
No. 19 Texas A&M (18-5) vs. No. 43 LSU (11-12), 10 a.m. (9 a.m. CT)
No. 15 Michigan (17-6) vs. Illinois-Chicago (18-3), 1 p.m. (noon CT)
Saturday, May 12
No. 15 Michigan/UIC winner vs. No. 19 Texas A&M/No. 45 LSU winner, 1 p.m. (noon CT)
The Aggies, who defeated the Tigers, 5-2, in Baton Rouge, La., in the third match of the season, are 18-5 and have won five of their last six matches. A&M, which will join the SEC on July 1, upset No. 12 Baylor to reach the finals of the Big 12 Championship for the first time since 2004 but fell to 13th-ranked Texas, 4-2, in the finals.
No. 43 LSU is 11-12 after falling to Arkansas in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
Michigan, the Big Ten Conference regular season champion, is 17-6 after losing to Purdue, 4-3, in the championship match of the Big Ten Tournament. The 15th-ranked Wolverines are making their 11th consecutive NCAA appearance and have advanced to the Round of 16 each of the last two years.
UIC is 18-3 and received an automatic bid after winning its 16th consecutive Horizon League regular season title. The Flames, a 49-64 seed, are making their 14th consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.
ALL-TIME SERIES HISTORY
A&M is 22-10 against LSU, including a 5-2 win in Baton Rouge, La., on Feb. 5 in the third match of the 2012 season. It was the Aggies’ third consecutive win against the Tigers and their seventh out the last eight meetings. A&M swept the doubles competition and got wins at the top four lines in singles. LSU’s last win against A&M was in 2009. The teams are 1-1 when facing in the NCAA tournament. In 1997, LSU defeated A&M, 5-0, in the second round at Rice University in Houston. The teams also met in the first round of the 2003 tournament with the host Aggies posting a 4-0 victory over the Tigers in College Station.
A&M holds a 2-1 lead in the all-time series against Michigan. All three matches were played in Ann Arbor. The teams were slated to play on March 9 in College Station, but the match could not be played because of continuous rain throughout the weekend. In the most recent meeting, the Wolverines notched a 6-1 victory in 2009.
A&M and Illinois-Chicago have never met.
AGGIES VS. THE TOURNAMENT FIELD
A&M is 6-5 against the 64-team tournament field this season. Two of the wins were against top-16 tournament seeds -- No. 11 Texas and No. 12 Baylor -- and the other four wins were against teams seeded 33-48: Rice, Oklahoma State, TCU and LSU. Three of the five losses were against top-16 seeds: No. 11 Texas, No. 12 Baylor and No. 16 Ole Miss. The other losses were to 17-32 seeds Notre Dame and Texas Tech.
A&M TOURNAMENT HISTORY
In last year’s NCAA tournament, A&M suffered a 4-3 first-round loss to SMU in College Station. It was the Aggies’ third consecutive first-round loss after posting a streak of six consecutive appearances in at least the second round of the tournament…A&M, 11-17 all-time in NCAA tournament play, had it best postseason finish in 2004 after advancing to the Round of 16.
By defeating Kansas State, 4-0, and upsetting 12th-ranked Baylor, 4-3, Texas A&M reached the finals at the Big 12 Tennis Championship for the first time since 2004, but the No. 3 seed Aggies were unable to capture their second-ever tournament title as they fell to No. 4 seed Texas, 4-2, on April 29 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station. In 2004, A&M upset the rival Longhorns to win its only Big 12 tournament championship, but in the most recent meeting Texas (17-7) won the crucial doubles point and went on to post three wins at the bottom of the singles lineup to capture its eighth tournament trophy and earn the league’s automatic bid to the 64-team NCAA Championship.
A&M HEAD COACH HOWARD JOFFE
Aggie first-year head coach Howard Joffe has rejuvenated a team that is now experiencing its greatest success in recent years. Joffe, who came to A&M in July 2011 after two-year head coaching stints at both Miami (Ohio) and Maryland, led the Aggies on a school record-setting 13-match winning streak earlier this season and has directed the team to an 18-5 record, A&M’s most wins since going 21-7 in 2007. He also coached A&M to the finals of the 2012 Big 12 Championship, the first time the Aggies reached the finals since 2004. In addition, the Aggies’ No. 15 ranking on March 6 was the program’s highest national ranking since a No. 14 listing on March 24, 2007. Joffe enters the NCAA tournament with a 66-43 record in his five-year career as a head coach.
Joffe played college tennis at Pepperdine from 1990-92 and led the Wave to three consecutive West Coast Conference titles. He was an ITA All-American in 1992, the same year he was the 1992 WCC singles champion and reached the semifinals of the NCAA Singles Championship. After three years (1992-94) on the professional tour, Joffe began his coaching career in South Africa. In 2002, he was hired as the women’s assistant coach at perennial power USC, where he finished his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2006. The two-time ITA West Region Assistant Coach of the Year and a runner-up for the 2006 national award, Joffe left USC in 2007 to be the head coach at Miami (Ohio). In his second season, Joffe was named the Mid American Conference Coach of the Year after leading the RedHawks to a 16-7 record and an appearance in the NCAA tournament. He then left to become the head coach at Maryland, where he led the Terrapins to an NCAA tournament berth in 2011.
IN THE RANKINGS
Texas A&M is No. 19 in the latest ITA team rankings, released May 8. The Aggies reached their highest ranking of the season, as well as the program’s highest ranking in since 2007, on March 6 when they came in at No. 15. Individually, junior Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar, who came to A&M with Joffe after playing one year at Maryland, became the highest ranked singles player in Texas A&M history when she was ranked No. 4 on Feb. 28. Sanchez-Quintanar, who has been in the top 15 all spring, enters the NCAA tournament ranked No. 6...Junior Nazari Urbina has worked her way up to a No. 53 ranking after being list No. 105 in the January preseason ranking...Junior Wen Sun has been ranked in singles every week during the spring and enters the postseason with a No. 78 ranking...In doubles, Sanchez-Quintanar and Sun jumped into the doubles rankings at No. 50 on April 17 and are now a season-high No. 29 entering the NCAAs.
SANCHEZ-QUINTANAR IS ALL-AMERICAN WITH NO. 7 SEED
Texas A&M junior Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar has guaranteed herself All-America honors from the ITA after being named the No. 7 seed in the NCAA Singles Championship 64-player field. In only her first year at A&M after transferring from Maryland, Sanchez-Quintanar becomes A&M’s first All-American since 2005 and fifth overall, but she is the first in school history to garner the distinction by virtue of being a top 16 seed. She is the first All-American coached by Howard Joffe, who is in his first year at A&M and in the fifth season of his head coaching career.
A&M TO SEND THREE TO NCAA INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Nazari Urbina will represent Texas A&M at the NCAA Singles Championships, and Sanchez-Quintanar and partner Wen Sun will compete in the NCAA Doubles Championship.
Sanchez-Quintanar, the Big 12 No. 1 singles champion and the league’s automatic qualifier for the NCAA Singles Championship, is making her second consecutive appearance in both individual championships. Last year in her only season at Maryland, Sanchez-Quintanar became the Terrapins’ first-ever player to reach the singles round of 32 after defeating Urbina in the first round. Sanchez-Quintanar and partner Jordaan Sanford were eliminated in the first round in doubles after falling in three sets to 12th-ranked Linda Abu Meshrefova and Nida Hamilton of Northwestern.
Sanchez-Quintanar is 35-5 overall in singles this year, one victory shy of tying for second place in the A&M records for most singles wins in a season. Currently ranked No. 6, the first-year transfer is 22-1 in dual matches, including 9-0 in Big 12 matches at the No. 1 line. In addition, Sanchez-Quintanar is 15-4 against ranked opponents.
Urbina also is making history, as she becomes A&M’s first three-time participant in the NCAA Singles Championship. Last year, the then-sophomore became only the third Aggie to make a repeat appearance, and in 2010, Urbina was A&M’s first-ever freshman to compete in the elite event. From Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, Urbina is No. 53 in the latest ITA singles rankings, released May 8. She is 20-6 overall this season, including 17-4 in dual matches. The junior is 14-3 at the No. 2 line, including 7-2 in Big 12 matches and 6-5 against ranked opponents after posting her highest ranked win of the season with a three-set, come-from-behind victory over 22nd-ranked Nina Secerbegovic of Baylor in the last match standing that propelled A&M to the finals of the Big 12 Championship.
Sun, a junior transfer from Tyler Junior College where the Dalian, China, native was a national champion in both singles and doubles at the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships, and Sanchez-Quintanar are ranked No. 29 in doubles after going 21-9 overall, including 16-7 in dual matches all at the No. 1 line. On April 28 the pair notched its highest ranked win of the season, defeating 13th-ranked Ema Burgic and Secerbegovic, 8-2, in the Aggies’ semifinal victory over the Lady Bears at the Big 12 Championship.
The NCAA singles and doubles competition will be conducted May 23-28 at the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., following the conclusion of the team championship (May 17-22). All matches will be the best of three sets. Regular scoring and a 12-point tiebreaker at six games all will be used for all matches.
With a 35-5 overall singles record, Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar has won 87.5 percent of her matches, a mark that would establish an A&M record for highest winning percentage in a single season. The record currently stands at .861, set by Ashley Hedberg who went 31-5 in 2001-02. Sanchez-Quintanar’s 35 wins ranks third in the A&M records for most wins. She is one win shy of tying Anna Lubinsky, who moved into second place in 2003-04. Former Aggie All-American Kim Labuschagne holds down the No. 1 spot with 42 wins in 1986-87.
Senior Sheri Olivier has 84 career doubles victories and needs two more wins to tie Gaye Lynne Gensler (1984-88) for 10th place in the career records for most doubles victories.
SANCHEZ-QUINTANAR IS BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE YEAR, NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar dominated the Big 12 Conference annual tennis awards as she was voted both the Big 12 Conference Women’s Player of the Year and the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year by the league’s head coaches. She becomes the first female in the history of the Big 12 to win both awards in the same year. In addition, the junior from Campo de Criptana, Spain, was a unanimous All-Big 12 Team selection for both singles and doubles.
A&M players also made school history as the Aggies had a record three players named to the All-Big 12 Team in singles. In addition to Sanchez-Quintanar, junior Nazari Urbina was a unanimous selection for All-Big 12 singles honor and was named to the 12-member team for a third consecutive year. Junior Wen Sun also was named to the All-Big 12 team in singles and joined Sanchez-Quintanar as a unanimous selection on the All-Big 12 Team for doubles.
Baylor tied A&M for most players named to the All-Big 12 Team in singles with three, but A&M led all schools with two unanimous selections. Six schools had a doubles team named All-Big 12, with A&M and Baylor receiving the only unanimous selections.
AGGIES CLAIM FOUR INDIVIDUAL BIG 12 CHAMPION TITLES
Several members of the Texas A&M women’s tennis team garnered Big 12 Conference individual champion titles after accumulating the most wins at their respective positions. Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar was the runaway Big 12 No. 1 singles champion after posting a 9-0 record in conference matches. Eight of her nine victories were in straight sets. Wen Sun was the Big 12 No. 3 singles champion after going 8-1 in conference matches. Sanchez-Quintanar and Sun also teamed to capture a share of the Big 12 No. 1 doubles title. The pair upset then 39th-ranked Marie-Pier Huet and Whitney Ritchie of Oklahoma in the last match of the regular season to finish 7-2 and tie the Sooner tandem and Samantha Adams and Kenna Kilgo of Texas Tech for most wins at the No. 1 line. A&M juniors Janelle Cuthbertson and Nazari Urbina also earned conference honors, as they were the Big 12 No. 2 doubles co-champions after going 7-0 and tying Mia Lancaster and Abbi Melrose of Oklahoma for most wins.
AGGIES RECEIVE BIG 12 ACADEMIC HONORS
Texas A&M’s Sheri Olivier was named to the Academic All-Big 12 Women’s Tennis First Team and teammate Janelle Cuthbertson was named to the second team. Olivier, a senior human resources development major from Topeka, Kan., is making her third consecutive appearance on the first team. Cuthbertson, a junior sport management major from Perth, Australia, is making her first appearance on the academic team.
To qualify for the Academic All-Big 12 Tennis Team, student-athletes must maintain a 3.00 GPA or higher either cumulative or the two previous semesters and must have participated in 60 percent of her team’s scheduled contests. Freshmen and transfers are not eligible in their first year of academic residence. Senior student-athletes who have participated for a minimum of two years and meet all the criteria except percent of participation are also eligible.
First team members consist of those who have maintained a 3.20 or better GPA, and the second team is made up of those who have a 3.00 to 3.19 GPA.
Texas A&M enters the NCAAs having won five of its last six matches...The Aggies are 12-5 against ranked opponents, including a 4-3 victory against No. 6 Texas, marking A&M’s highest ranked win since defeating No. 5 USC in 2004...A&M is 1-1 at neutral sites and 8-1 at away matches...After losing its season opener against Ole Miss in the first round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, the Aggies reeled off a school-record 13-match winning streak, obliterating the previous record of nine consecutive wins that had stood since 1986...A&M is 18-1 when winning the doubles point, 11-0 when No. 5 singles wins and 8-0 when No. 6 singles wins...The Aggies are a combined 57-9 at the No. 1, 2 and 3 singles lines...A&M is a combined 48-19 at the three doubles lines...A&M has two seniors who are concluding their Aggie careers: Sheri Olivier and Lauren Santacroce.