No. 3-seed Texas A&M heads to quarterfinals for first time in NCAA history
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- For only the second time in school history, No. 3-seed Texas A&M will advance to the Round of 16 of the NCAA championship after defeating TCU 4-1 in the second round on Sunday at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
The Aggies (23-3), who also advanced to the Round of 16 in 2004, will take on No. 14-seed Virginia (19-9) Friday in Urbana, Ill. The Cavaliers, who have lost to Texas A&M twice this season, posted a dramatic victory against Texas, winning a tiebreaker in the last match standing to advance.
A&M, having won the last three regular-season meetings against the Horned Frogs, entered the match tied with TCU (18-7) 1-1 in NCAA tournament matches. The Aggies gained the early momentum in Sunday’s matchup with two easy wins to capture the doubles point.
The 49th-ranked senior tandem of Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Sun Wen gave the Aggies the edge in the race for the doubles point, winning their first six games en route to an 8-1 victory against TCU’s Federica Denti and Kelsey Sundaram at the No. 2 line.
Freshmen twins Ines and Paula Deheza clinched the point for the Aggies and ran their winning streak to seven with a win at the No. 3 line. They were tied at two with Monika Sirilova and Stefanie Tan before reeling off six consecutive games to close out the 8-2 victory that gave A&M a 1-0 lead.
A&M’s 18th-ranked team of Stefania Hristov and Cristina Stancu held a 6-3 lead against 53rd-ranked Millie Nichols and Olivia Smith when the point was clinched and play was stopped.
Singles began with A&M quickly notching straight-set victories at the Nos. 3 and 4 courts to take a 3-0 lead. Senior Nazari Urbina, ranked No. 52, posted her 98th career victory with a 6-3, 6-0 victory against 122nd-ranked Smith at the No. 3 line to put the Aggies ahead 2-0.
Ines Deheza won four consecutive games to close out a 6-1, 6-2 victory against Sundaram at No. 4 to give the Aggies a 3-0 lead.
Despite the deficit, TCU began gaining momentum. Sirilova put the Horned Frogs on the board and cut the margin to 3-1 with a 6-4, 6-0 victory against Sun at the No. 5 line. TCU also won first sets on courts 1, 2 and Denti had built a 5-0 first set lead against Hristov at the No. 6 line.
Hristov charged back though, winning the next five games to tie the set at five. Denti took a 6-5 lead, but Hristov fought off five set points to tie the frame at six and force a tiebreaker. Hristov won the first three points in the tiebreaker and went on to win 7-4 to take the set.
Hristov didn’t drop a game in the second set to complete the 7-6 (4), 6-0 victory, clinch the winning point and send the Aggies to Illinois and the Round of 16.
Sanchez-Quintanar, ranked No. 4, had lost her first set, 6-4, to 44th-ranked Tan at the No. 1 court and the score was tied at five in the second set when Hristov clinched the match. Also 68th-ranked Stancu had struggled at No. 2, playing through an ankle injury suffered early in the first set. Stancu was leading Simona Parajova 3-2 in the opening frame before suffering the injury. Although Stancu went on to win the game to take a 4-2 lead, Parajova took advantage of the situation and came back to win the set 7-5. Stancu then won the second set 6-0 to force a third set and was leading 3-2 when play was stopped.