NASHVILLE – Fourth-ranked Texas A&M notched another win as senior Nazari Urbina won the last match standing to give the Aggies a 4-3 victory against 11th-ranked Vanderbilt at the Currey Tennis Center.
“Just simply in terms of the box score, it is definitely an excellent win for Texas A&M women’s tennis program,” Texas A&M head coach Howard Joffe said. “We were on the road, Vanderbilt has a very fine team and it goes down as a very good win. I don’t know if we played our best tennis, but the tough nature of the match certainly revealed some of our character. It certainly has helped us with competing and also highlighted some areas that we need to improve in.”
A&M, playing in its first Southeastern Conference road match, improved to 3-0 in league play and to 9-1 overall after winning its seventh consecutive match. This also was the second match in a row in which Urbina clinched the win in the last match standing, having also pulled off a heroic three-set victory in the Aggies’ momentous 4-3 win against then-No. 4 Florida on Sunday.
“One of the things I try my best to tell myself and the team is that when you play against the good teams, every win is very good and inherently the matches are very, very difficult,” Joffe said. “In a funny way this doesn’t feel like a nail-biter to me because [winning] is what I hope our ladies are expecting.”
A&M got on the scoreboard first by winning the doubles point. The 11th-ranked duo of Stefania Hristov and Cristina Stancu pulled away for an 8-4 victory at the No. 1 line to improve to 15-5 overall, 6-2 in dual matches and 2-0 in league play.
Seniors Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Wen Sun clinched the doubles point for the Aggies, winning three consecutive games to close out an 8-5 victory against 29th-ranked Courtney Colton and Lauren Mira at No. 2. It marked the highest-ranked win for the Aggie tandem in a dual match this season.
A&M twins Ines and Paula Deheza and Vandy’s Frances Altick and Georgina Sellyn were tied at five on No. 3 when the doubles point was decided and play was stopped.
The Commodores got off to a strong start in singles, winning the first set on four of six courts. Sanchez-Quintanar, ranked No. 6 in singles, was one of two A&M players to win a first set. She improved to 27-4 overall and 8-1 in dual matches, winning the first seven games at No. 1 singles en route to a 6-0, 6-3 victory against 60th-ranked Mira to give the Aggies a 2-0 lead.
Antal put Vanderbilt within 2-1 as she got a consecutive set 6-4, 6-3 victory against Hristov at the No. 5 line before Stancu defeated Casares 6-3, 6-4 at the No. 2 line to put A&M ahead 3-1.
With three matches still in action, the Aggies needed a come-from-behind victory on one of the courts to get the win.
Sellyn, ranked No. 64, downed Sun 6-4, 6-3 to improve to 5-0 at the No. 4 line and put the Commodores within 3-2. The remaining two matches was decided in three sets as Urbina and teammate Anna Mamalat had split sets after dropping their first sets at the No. 3 and 6 lines, respectively.
Mamalat won her second set 6-4, against Altick after dropping the first set 6-3. Mamalat then built a 4-2 lead in a controversial third set, but Altick helped the Commodores improve to a combined 11-0 at the No. 6 line, rallying to win the next four games to win the match 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 and tie the team score at three.
Urbina, who dropped her first set to Colton 6-4, won the second set 6-3 and jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the final frame. Colten got within 5-4 before Urbina finished off the match 6-4 to once again clinch the victory for the Aggies.
“It feels good to come out on the winning side of it,” Joffe said. “I definitely think the slow start in the singles matches put us in jeopardy in the match, but the veterans on our team got the job done for us. Again Nazari clinched the match. Stancu did a great job against a very fine player, and Sanchez, too. They got it done for us [on Friday].
“I didn’t get to see a ton of Nazari’s match, but I think she was a beat or two out of tune in her first set and once she got some rhythm, she was definitely in control of the match for the most part. She is so even keeled and it reveals some character. Everything that is good about college sports, Nazari is an advert for that. She is diligent. She is hard working. She is tough. She works hard in the class room and on the tennis court, so she deserves it.”
Vanderbilt, which entered the match 7-0 in the all-time series against the Aggies and 3-0 in home matches this season, saw its four-match win streak come to an end and dropped to 9-5 overall and 2-1 in SEC play.