Mastromarino leads TCU to stunning 4-3 win over Wyoming

The No. 64 TCU women’s tennis team had to take the final three singles matches to capture a thrilling 4-3 decision over third-seeded Wyoming Thursday in the 2010 Mountain West Conference Championships quarterfinals at the Frank and Vicki Fertitta Tennis Complex. In blustery conditions in the Nevada desert, the match lasted nearly four and a half hours.

The evening began with the Cowgirls claiming the doubles point with wins at the top two courts. Wyoming’s team of Alexandra Kovacs and Rebecca Berger proved to be too much for TCU’s tandem of Idunn Hertzberg and Nina Munch-Soegaard, cruising to an 8-2 win from the middle slot. Wyoming clinched the early 1-0 advantage as the duo of Simona Synkova and Kim van Ginkel displaced the Frogs’ squad of Kayla Duncan and Katariina Tuohimaa from the first-flight, 8-5.

Wyoming tacked on another point to begin singles action as van Ginkel made quick work of TCU sophomore Shalini Sahoo from the No. 5 position, 6-1, 6-0. The Frogs cut the Cowgirl lead in half when Hertzberg battled to a straight-set victory from the fourth-flight against Berger, 6-2, 6-2. However, Wyoming pushed the team score to 3-1 with Synkova’s 7-6 (7), 7-5 win over Duncan from the No. 3 court.

Finding themselves down 3-1 and on the verge of elimination from the Championships, the Frogs found a way to fight back, starting with senior captain Munch-Soegaard. The Amarillo, Texas native battled after dropping her second set to Wyoming’s Sarah Summerfield to win from the top position, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1. With the win, the 2010 all-MWC selection pushed her career ledger to 94-43 to move two wins shy of matching former Frog Teresa Dobson for the fifth-most victories in school history.

With the Frogs down 3-2, Tuohimaa followed from the second flight with a big win of her own, dismissing Kovacs in three sets by the score of 6-0, 2-6, 7-5. Tuohimaa jumped out to an early 4-1 lead in the final set, only to allow Kovacs the opportunity to creep within to one game before finishing the match off. In her three years as a Frog, Tuohimaa holds a 6-0 singles record during MWC Championship play.

As Tuohimaa put the finishing touches on Kovacs to move the team tally to 3-3, the focus of the match began to trickle down to the No. 6 position and the storm that was stirring between TCU’s Gaby Mastromarino and Wyoming’s Sasa Nemcova. The two players faced off in Fort Worth on April 3 and Mastromarino walked away with a 6-0, 6-0 victory, but Nemcova wasn’t going down so easy Thursday night in Las Vegas.

Wyoming took the opening set in tiebreaker fashion, as Nemcova cruised past the Frogs’ sophomore 7-6 (2). In the second set, Mastromarino looked beaten, falling in a 5-0 hole. At that point, the Tequesta, Fla., native found her rhythm and began to make Nemcova work: 5-1, 5-2, 5-3, 5-4, 5-5, 6-5, 7-5. Remarkably, Mastromarino hit a hot streak and took seven-straight games to push the deciding match into a third set.

In the final set, Mastromarino again can’t find away to take control of the match, falling down early 3-1. However, with Nemcova holding serve and advantage to move to 4-1, the TCU’s sophomore again found the inner strength to turn the match around, stealing three-consecutive games to take a 4-3 lead. After facing three match points, Mastramarino found a way to break Nemcova again to win her sixth-straight singles match, 6-7 (2), 7-5, 6-4.

“I didn’t get off to a very good start, finding myself down 5-0 in the second set,” Mastromarino said. “I was just really down on myself, especially knowing that I had beaten her 6-0, 6-0 earlier this season. I started looking around and checking the scores of the other matches and I realized that it was going to come down to me and I needed to make something happen. Even if I was going to lose, I started fighting to stay alive long enough that hopefully my teammates would have a chance to finish their matches.”

“Today was my first match in almost three weeks, coming off of an injury, so I have only been able to practice four days before today’s match,” Mastromarino added. “I just really didn’t have my game tonight, so it was really all about fighting and finding a way to win ugly, especially with the wind.”

The Frogs improved to 8-16 overall on the spring and moved into the MWC Championship semifinals for the fifth-straight year. The victory improved the Purple and White’s record to 10-0 in the all-time series against Wyoming.

TCU returns to action Friday to take on the second-seeded host, UNLV, at 4 p.m. CT. Fans can follow the live action from the MWC Championship Central page.

No. 64 TCU 4, Wyoming 3
April 29, 2010
MWC Championships Quarterfinals — Las Vegas, Nevada
Frank and Vicki Fertitta Tennis Complex

1. Simona Synkova/Kim van Ginkel (WYO) def. No. 47 Kayla Duncan/Katariina Tuohimaa (TCU), 8-5
2. Alexandra Kovacs/Rebecca Berger (WYO) def. Idunn Hertzberg/Nina Munch-Soegaard (TCU), 8-2
3. Sarah Summerfield/Paloma Navarro (WYO) vs. Maria Babanova/Gaby Mastromarino (TCU), 7-4

1. No. 56 Nina Munch-Soegaard (TCU) def. Sarah Summerfield (WYO), 6-3, 4-6, 6-1
2. Katariina Tuohimaa (TCU) def. Alexandra Kovacs (WYO), 6-0, 2-6, 7-5
3. Simona Synkova (WYO) def. No. 113 Kayla Duncan (TCU), 7-6 (7), 7-5
4. Idunn Hertzberg (TCU) def. Rebecca Berger (WYO), 6-2, 6-2
5. Kim van Ginkel (WYO) def. Shalini Sahoo (TCU), 6-1, 6-0
6. *Gaby Mastromarino (TCU def. Sasa Nemcova (WYO), 6-7 (2), 7-5, 6-4

Order of finish: Doubles (2, 1*); Singles (5, 4, 3, 1, 2, 6*)
*—clinched team victory

Notes from Day 1 at the Big 12 Championships; Texas signs Sitaram

Not a whole lot of Texas team action today. I got a chance to see most of the teams and coaches, as they were arriving or finishing practice, except for Baylor. The only team from the Lone Star State in action was the Texas Tech women.

Texas Tech tried to give the doubles away against Missouri, but after a bit of a rally by the Tigers, the Red Raiders were able to take the momentum and the point, 1-0.

Missouri was cruising at #1 doubles, while Tech’s duo of Stefanie Peana (Austin Westlake) and Caroline Starck were having an easier time at line three, leading 5-0. It appeared the match was going to go down to line two, where the teams were fairly even and Missouri even held a slight 3-2 lead.

Missouri’s Mallory Weber and Kaitlyn Ritchie kept right on cruising, taking the set 8-3 at line 1 over Tech’s Kelcy Garland (Lubbock Coronado) and Natalie Leitch (Highland Park).

At line two, Sandra Dynka and Elizabeth Ullathorne turned around a 3-2 deficit to grab a 7-3 lead and all looked like it was going to fall in place for the Red Raiders. But Sofia Ayala and Jamie Mera were mounting a comeback at 2. The pair won three straight games and even had chances to get closer.

Then Kristen Bleakley and Andrea Lewis started their own comeback for Missouri at line 2, winning the next two games and getting up 40-15, with a chance to get it to 6-7. Tech was doing everything in their power to throw this away: missed open volleys, double-faults, umpire overrules, the list was mounting and starting to take its toll. The Red Raiders took advantage of some timely errors and doubles faults by Mizzou and finally closed out the set, 8-5.

Line three continued to struggle, but a critical break at 6-5, extended their lead to 7-5 and they finished off the match 8-5 to finally take the point.

Tech rode that momentum and made the singles fairly routine. They dominated, except at line 1, where Mizzou’s Ritchie beat Dynka, 61 63. Otherwise, Garland d. Maria Christensen 64 60, Ullathorne d. Mera 62 63 and Starck d. Lewis 64 61. Aviles even led Ayala 6-4, 5-1 when the match was suspended.

Here’s my post-match interview with Coach Todd Petty.


The most interesting news of the day that was official (I had known for several weeks, but the official announcement should come this weekend) was that Sudanwa Sitaram of India has official signed to join Texas next year. Sitaram has wins over Mitchell Frank and Nathan Pasha, so he should make a nice addition to the Longhorns when they try to replace Kutrovsky and Zavala.

Nichols clinches TCU upset of Utah at MWC Championships

Texan Zach Nichols earned the fourth point at No. 2 singles as fourth-seeded TCU beat fifth-seeded Utah, 4-2, in the quarterfinals of the 2010 Mountain West Conference Men’s Tennis Championship in Las Vegas, Nev. TCU will face No. 1 BYU in the semifinals at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 30 at the Fertitta Tennis Complex.

The Horned Frogs earned the doubles point with wins at the No. 1 and No. 3 doubles positions. The 37th-ranked duo of Christopher Price and Emanuel Brighiu won at the top of the lineup, 8-5, over Phil Eilers and Alex Golding and Zach Nichols and Paul Chappell won the No. 3 doubles match, 8-5, over Benito Suriano and Stephen Jacobs.

Utah claimed the lead early in singles action when Stephen Jacobs defeated Paul Chappell at the No. 6 position, 6-4, 6-4, and Alex Golding downed Marius Cirstea, 6-4, 6-4, at the third singles spot. Another Texan, Price, earned the second point for TCU at No. 4 singles with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Benito Suriano, while Brighiu picked up the third Horned Frogs point at No. 1 singles with a 7-5, 6-3 win over MWC Co-Player of the Year Phillip Eilers.

Nichols put the win away for the Horned Frogs with a 6-0, 4-6, 6-4 win over Jason Smits.

Tennis Match Results – #4 TCU 4 #5 Utah 2
Apr 29, 2010 at Las Vegas, Nev.
(Fertitta Tennis Complex)
Singles competition
1. Emanuel Brighiu (TCU) def. Phillip Eilers (UTAH) 7-5, 6-3
2. Zach Nichols (TCU) def. Jason Smits (UTAH) 6-0, 4-6, 6-4
3. Alex Golding (UTAH) def. Marius Cirstea (TCU) 6-4, 6-4
4. Christopher Price (TCU) def. Benita Suriano (UTAH) 6-4, 6-3
5. Soren Goritzka (TCU) vs. Timmy Allin (UTAH) 6-7, 6-3, 3-0, unfinished
6. Stephen Jacobs (UTAH) def. Paul Chappell (TCU) 6-4, 6-4

Doubles competition
1. #37 Christopher Price/Emanuel Brighiu (TCU) def. Phillip Eilers/Alex Golding (UTAH) 8-5
2. Soren Goritzka/Cameron Nash (TCU) vs. Timmy Allin/Jason Smits (UTAH) 7-4, unfinished
3. Zach Nichols/Paul Chappell (TCU) def. Benita Suriano/Stephen Jacobs (UTAH) 8-5

Match Notes:
#4 TCU (10-12, 3-3)
#5 Utah (7-16, 2-4)
Order of finish: Doubles (1, 3) Singles (6, 3, 4, 1, 2)
Match resumed from Wednesday’s cancellation due to high winds in Las Vegas.

News, Rankings and thoughts

I apologize for the delay in the rankings. I had the data together on Tuesday, but didn’t actually run the rankings until yesterday and wasn’t able to post them until today. I injured myself this weekend sleeping. Yes, I am a dork. But basically I tweaked my back, then slept on it wrong and the next thing you know, I can barely walk and cannot site for extended periods of time. I have been stretching and getting therapy and am much better, so here we go.

The latest rankings are more interesting on the women’s side where a coupe of teams, like Baylor and Florida, have stepped up and really separated themselves from the pack. Stanford, who didn’t play the indoors, is finally getting all of those quality wins in and keeps moving up the ranks.

Link to the complete women’s list

On the men’s side, Florida is moving up, as the Pac 10 has been suffering from the injury bug and those teams drop a bit.

Link to the complete men’s list

I will be heading out to the Big 12 Championships in a few hours. I don’t really expect any big news today, but will be giving updates once I arrive via Twitter. I will likely miss the 10 a.m. matches (K-State v. Colo and OU v. KU), but arrive in time for the 1:30’s (Okla. State v. Iowa State and Texas Tech v. Missouri). Today is all women. Tomorrow, beginning at 9:30, they will have both on the courts.

Honestly, I don’t think anyone is going to beat Baylor on the women’s side. It won’t be close. If someone gets 2 points, I think that would be huge, but there is really not much of a chance for any team other than the Bears to win it on the women’s side.

Now the men’s side could go to Texas, Texas A&M or Baylor, with OU and Tech having an outside shot. Nebraska has been tough, but they have benefited from playing their home matches indoors and its going to be hot this weekend. Not super hot, but temperatures will be in the mid-to-upper 80’s, which not many folks are used to right now, since we’ve had a mild spring.

Obviously Texas is the huge favorite, but anything can happen, as most of the men’s matches this season, even the 7-0 UT-A&M match, were tight at some point.

Zavala named Big 12 Player of the Week

Josh Zavala (Texas) earned the Big 12 Men’s Player of the Week and Monica Milewski (Colorado) received the women’s Player of the Week award for matches of April 19-25. This marked the second career honor for Zavala and the third for Milewski.

Big 12 Men’s Tennis Player of the Week
Josh Zavala, Texas, Sr., Amarillo, Texas/Tascosa

The Big 12 Conference selected Texas senior Josh Zavala as its men’s tennis player of the week Tuesday after the Amarillo native clinched the Longhorns’ victories last week over No. 10 Texas A&M and Nebraska.

Zavala clinched UT’s 7-0 win over Texas A&M on April 21 by defeating the Aggies’ Alberto Bautista by a 7-6 (1), 6-2 count at fifth singles. Zavala also teamed up with classmate Dimitar Kutrovsky to defeat the Aggies’ third-ranked doubles tandem of Austin Krajicek and Jeff Dadamo and help the Horns earn the doubles point.

Zavala went on to clinch UT’s 5-2 victory at Nebraska on April 25 with a 6-4, 6-4 win over NU’s Francois Van Impe at fourth singles. The win clinched the Big 12 Conference regular season title outright for the Longhorns. It marks Zavala’s second career selection as the league’s men’s tennis player of the week.

Zavala and the Longhorns have received a first-round bye at this week’s Big 12 Championships at UT’s Penick-Allison Tennis Center. Top-seeded Texas will open play in Saturday’s semifinals at noon against the winner of Friday’s quarterfinal match between fourth-seeded Texas Tech and fifth-seeded Oklahoma.

Big 12 Women’s Tennis Player of the Week
Monica Milewski, Colorado, Sr., Park Ridge, Ill./Main South

Milewski, ranked No. 93 nationally, pulled three upsets over the week. Against Texas A&M, the senior swept straight sets (6-3, 7-5) against No. 59 Elzé Potgieter. Milewski continued her performance with another straight-set win (6-2, 6-4) against Texas’ 23rd-ranked Aeriel Ellis. In doubles action, she and partner Melisa Esposito upset the Horn’s No. 51 Ellis and Vanja Corovic. Milewski improved to 8-1 at the No. 1 singles spot in league action. She was won 13 of her last 15 matches.

Date Men’s Player of the Week Women’s Player of the Week
March 8 Dimitar Kutrovsky, Texas, Sr. Caroline Larsson, Texas, Jr.
March 16 Jeff Dadamo, Texas A&M, Jr. Nina Secerbegovic, Baylor, So.
March 23 Raony Carvalho, Texas Tech, So. Morgan Frank, Texas A&M, Jr.
March 30 Austin Krajicek, Texas A&M, Jr. Lenka Broosova, Baylor, Sr.
April 6 Dimitar Kutrovsky, Texas, Sr. Krista Damico, Texas, So.
April 13 Austin Krajicek, Texas A&M, Jr. Aeriel Ellis, Texas, Fr. and Nazari Urbina, Texas A&M, Fr.
April 20 Oleksandr Nedovyesov, Oklahoma State, Sr. Lenka Broosova, Baylor, Sr.
April 27 Josh Zavala, Texas, Sr. Monica Milewski, Colorado, Sr.

Big 12 names All-Academic Teams; Lancaster among two with 4.0

The Big 12 Conference has named 65 student-athletes to the 2010 Academic All-Big 12 Tennis Team, the league office announced.

Among those honored, Jamie Mera (Missouri) and Sarah Lancaster (Texas) were nominated with a 4.00 grade point average.

The Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma women’s squads placed a league-leading five student-athletes each on the first and second team while BU also paced the men’s field with five selections overall.

Nominated by each institution’s director of student-athlete support services and the media relations offices, the men’s tennis academic all-league squad consisted of 12 first team members combined with seven on the second team, while the women had 32 first team recipients and 14 student-athletes on the second team. First team members consist of those who have maintained a 3.20 or better GPA, and the second team are those who have a 3.00 to 3.19 GPA.

To qualify 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 his/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.

2010 Academic All-Big 12 Men’s tennis Team
First Team (3.20-plus GPA)
Name, School Class Major Hometown

Julian Bley, Baylor So. Business Veitshoechheim, Germany
Maros Horny, Baylor So. Finance Zlate Moravce, Slovakia
Dominik Mueller, Baylor Sr. Finance Frankfurt, Germany
Jordan Rux, Baylor Jr. Political Science Kerrville, Texas
Christopher Aumueller, Nebraska So. Marketing Bayreuth, Germany
Francois Van Impe, Nebraska Sr. Finance Brussels, Belgium
Ionut Beleleu, Oklahoma Jr. Finance Zalau, Romania
Anton Bobytskyi, Oklahoma State Jr. Economics Donetsk, Ukraine
Oleksandr Nedovyesov, Oklahoma State Sr. Economics Alushta, Ukraine
Ed Corrie, Texas Jr. Communications Harpendon, England
Jon Wiegand, Texas Sr. Pre-Medicine/Economics San Antonio, Texas
Raony Carvalho, Texas Tech So. Human Development & Family Studies Brazilia, Brazil

Second Team (3.00 to 3.19 gPA)
Name, School Class Major Hometown

Atilla Bucko, Baylor Sr. Speech Communication Willington, Fla.
Benedikt Lindheim, Nebraska So. Business Administration/Spanish Regensburg, Germany
George Chanturia, Oklahoma So. Economics-Business Tibilisi, Georgia
Andrei Daescu, Oklahoma Sr. Human Relations Bucharest, Romania
Aleksey Bessonov, Oklahoma State Jr. Russian Language & Literature Minsk, Belarus
Austin Krajicek, Texas A&M Jr. Psychology Brandon, Fla.
Gonzalo Escobar, Texas Tech So. Business Manta, Ecuador

2010 Academic All-Big 12 woMen’s tennis Team
First Team (3.20-plus GPA; *indicates nominated with a 4.00 GPA)

Name, School Class Major Hometown Csilla Borsanyi, Baylor Sr. Fashion Merchandising Siofok, Hungary
Karolina Filipiak, Baylor Jr. Psychology Poznan, Poland
Taylor Ormond, Baylor Jr. English Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Nina Secerbegovic, Baylor So. Business Tuzla, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Ania Anuszkiewicz, Colorado So. Integrative Physiology Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Michala Hedelund Jensen, Colorado So. English and Humanities Frederiksberg, Denmark
Tessa Lang, Iowa State So. Kinesiology/ Health Chippewa Falls, Wis.
Maria Fernanda Macedo, Iowa State So. Marketing Mexico City, Mexico
Marie Christine Chartier, Iowa State So. Open/ Liberal Arts and Sciences Repentigny, Quebec, Canada
Erin Karonis, Iowa State Jr. Journalism/ Mass Communication Ivyland, Pa.
Kunigunda Dorn, Kansas Sr. Journalism – Strategic Communications Sopron, Hungary
Alessandra Dzuba, Kansas So. Painting Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Erin Wilbert, Kansas So. Journalism – News and Information Lafayette, La.
Petra Chuda, Kansas State So. Management Sokolnice, Czech Republic
Natasha Vieira, Kansas State Sr. Management & Marketing Carabobo, Venezuela
Mallory Weber, Missouri Jr. Secondary Education Belleville, Ill.
Jamie Mera, Missouri* So. Undeclared Journalism Tampa, Fla.
Madeleine Geibert, Nebraska So. Pre-Medicine Ludwigshafen, Germany
Jennifer Holmberg, Nebraska So. Business Administration Tampere, Finland
Wiveca Swarting, Nebraska Sr. Finance/Economics Stockholm, Sweden
Mary Weatherholt, Nebraska So. Business Administration Prairie Village, Kan.
Ana-Maria Constantinescu, Oklahoma Jr. Psychology Bucharest, Romania
Tara Eckel, Oklahoma Jr. Spanish Dallas, Texas
Marie-Pier Huet, Oklahoma So. Pre-HSS Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Maria Kalashnikova, Oklahoma Jr. Marketing Tblisi, Republic of Georgia
Amanda Craddock, Texas Jr. Corporate Communication Chesterfield, Mo.
Caroline Larsson, Texas Jr. Economics Sodertalje, Sweden
Sarah Lancaster, Texas* Sr. Sport Management San Antonio, Texas
Elzé Potgieter, Texas A&M Sr. Accounting Bloemfontein, South Africa
Sheri Olivier, Texas A&M So. Human Resource Development Topeka, Kan.
Natalie Leitch, Texas Tech So. Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management Highland Park, Texas
Kelsy Garland, Texas Tech Jr. Early Childhood Education Lubbock, Texas

Second Team (3.00 to 3.19 GPA)
Name, School Class Major Hometown
Jelena Stanivuk, Baylor Jr. General Studies Tucepi, Croatia
Monica Milewski, Colorado Sr. Business Accounting Park Ridge, Ill.
Camila Belassi, Colorado Sr. Economics, Italian Minor Paysandú, Uruguay
Liza Wischer, Iowa State So. Communication Studies Grand Forks, N.D.
Nina Sertic, Kansas State So. Business Zagrab, Croatia
Kristen Bleakley, Missouri Sr. Hotel and Restaurant Management Kansas City, Mo.
Kaitlyn Ritchie, Missouri Jr. Pre-Communication Bartlesville, Okla.
Kristina Radan, Oklahoma So. German Linz, Austria
Sasha Belova, Oklahoma State Jr. Economics Kiev, Ukraine
Alisa Buslaieva, Oklahoma State So. Economics Donetsk, Ukraine
Nataliya Shatkovskaya, Oklahoma State Sr. International Business Minsk, Belarus
Christina Amo, Texas A&M Sr. Psychology Fort Worth, Texas
Stefanie Peana, Texas Tech So. Advertising Austin, Texas
Kerryn Potigeter, Texas Tech Sr. Exercise and Sports Sciences Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

A&M women rally, edge Missouri, 4-3

The Texas A&M women’s tennis team overcame a 3-1 deficit to post a dramatic 4-3 victory over Missouri in both teams’ regular season finale today at the Green Tennis Center indoor courts.

With the team score knotted at 3-3, A&M’s Christi Liles (Largo, Fla.) rallied in the last match standing to defeat Andrea Lewis, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-3, at No. 5 singles to clinch the win for the Aggies. Liles’ victory followed must-have wins by Elzé Potgieter (Bloemfontein, South Africa) at No. 1 and Stephanie Davidson (Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas) at No. 6 that kept the Aggies in contention and set up Liles’ heroics.

A&M, playing its second consecutive match with assistant Mark Weaver directing the team while head coach Bobby Kleinecke tended to a family emergency, improves to 12-8 overall and finishes 8-3 in the Big 12. The Aggies will be the No. 4 seed and will have a first-round bye at the Big 12 Championships, which run April 29-May 2, at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center in Austin.

Missouri (6-6, 1-10 Big 12) began the match winning two of three doubles matches to take a 1-0 lead. Davidson and Morgan Frank (Oldsmar, Fla.) gave A&M the early edge, coming back from a 4-1 deficit against Sofia Ayala and Jamie Mera at the No. 2 line to tie the score at 6-all. Missouri held serve to go up, 7-6, but A&M won the next three games to win the match.

It was Missouri that made the comeback on the other two courts to clinch the point. Liles and Sheri Olivier (Topeka, Kan.) built a 5-3 advantage against Kristen Bleakley and Lewis at No. 3, but the Tigers rallied, winning five consecutive games win the match.

The deciding doubles match went to a tiebreaker. Potgieter and Lauren Santacroce (Spring, Texas) were playing together for the first time in their careers, while Nazari Urbina (Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico), Potgieter’s usual partner and the Aggies’ No. 2 singles player, sat out the match to comply with the NCAA’s competition limits. The makeshift A&M duo came back from a 5-2 deficit and built a 7-5 lead against Kaitlyn Ritchie and Mallory Weber at the No. 1 line, but the Tigers answered by reeling off three games to go up, 8-7. A&M countered by winning the next game to even the match and force the tiebreaker.

A&M scored the first three points of the tiebreaker, but Missouri won seven of the next eight points to win the match and put the Tigers up, 1-0.

Missouri took a 2-0 lead at the start of singles as Weber downed Frank, 6-2, 6-3 at the No. 2 line. Olivier, who had never in her career played higher than No. 4 singles until today, then got a crucial 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory against Mera at the No. 3 line to cut the margin to 2-1.

Maria Christensen then gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead. She dropped her first set to Santacroce at the No. 4 position but posted second- and third-set wins to take the match, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

The outcome was looking bleak for the Aggies, as Potgieter and Liles had both dropped first sets and Potgieter trailed her second set, 4-2 and 5-4. But Potgieter and Liles continued to slowly chip away, while Davidson kept the pressure on her opponent to shift the momentum and eventually carry the Aggies to victory.

Potgieter finished off Ritchie, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, to put A&M within 3-2. It was Potgieter’s 89th career victory, putting her in sole possession of seventh place in the A&M singles records.

Davidson knotted the score with a 7-5, 6-2 win against Bleakley to tie the match at 3-3. Meanwhile, Liles and Lewis were tied at 3-3 in the third set before Liles broke away, winning the next three games to secure the win for A&M.

It was A&M’s eighth consecutive victory against the Tigers, who fall to 1-16 in the all-time series against the Aggies.

No. 36 Texas A&M 4, Missouri 3
April 25, 2010
Green Tennis Center (Indoor – 4 courts)
Columbia, Mo.
Attendance: n/a

1. (#59) Elzé Potgieter (TAMU) def. Kaitlyn Ritchie (MU), 5-7, 7-5, 6-2
2. Mallory Weber (MU) def. (#122) Morgan Frank (TAMU), 6-2, 6-3
3. Sheri Olivier (TAMU) def. Jamie Mera (MU), 7-6 (4), 6-3
4. Maria Christensen (MU) def. Lauren Santacroce (TAMU), 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
5. Christi Liles (TAMU) def. Andrea Lewis (MU), 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-3
6. Stephanie Davidson (TAMU) def. Kristen Bleakley (MU), 7-5, 6-2

Doubles (Missouri wins the point)
1. Ritchie/Weber (MU) def. Potgieter/Santacroce (TAMU), 9-8 (4)
2. Davidson/Frank (TAMU) def. Sofia Ayala/Mera (MU), 9-7
3. Bleakley/Lewis (MU) def. Liles/Olivier (TAMU), 8-5

Order of finish
Doubles: 2, 3, 1
Singles: 2, 3, 4, 1, 6, 5
*Clinched match

Team records
Texas A&M: 13-8, 8-3 Big 12
Missouri: 6-6, 1-10 Big 12

Trinity men edge DePauw for SCAC title

It’s been a while, but the Trinity Tigers men’s tennis team is once again the champion of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.

The top-seeded Tigers beat the No. 2 DePauw Tigers 5-3 Sunday in the championship match at Burns Park Tennis Center.

Trinity (16-9), ranked 14th in the NCAA Division III, last won the title in 2006, with a 4-1 victory over DePauw. Since that time, DePauw, ranked 16th nationally, had beaten the Tigers three straight years in the final, including a 6-3 win in 2009. The Trinity Tigers played in their 19th consecutive SCAC Championship match, and won their 15th conference crown.

Sunday’s Trinity victory – the 12th in a row – also means the Tigers have qualified for the NCAA regional tournament, to be held May 14-16, at a site to be determined. A total of 42 squads will compete in regionals throughout the nation, leading to the NCAA Team Championship Tournament May 25-27 at Oberlin, Ohio. The singles and doubles tournaments are slated for May 28-30. Trinity is ranked No. 7 in the West Region, and is 12-4 against Division III opponents. Bids for the team tournament will be announced May 10, and individuals May 12.

The Tigers began Sunday’s match by winning all three doubles. Bobby Cocanougher and Cory Kowal, ranked third in the region, won No. 1 doubles with an 8-6 victory over Scott Sandager and Will Gates. Max Frey and Erick DelaFuente captured No. 2 doubles, with an 8-4 over Hunter Schouweiler and Jonathan Batuello. No. 3 doubles went to Ben Carroll and Don Murray, 8-1 winners over Andrew Kahn and Michael Rardon.

DePauw won three of the five completed singles matches, but Trinity had already built up its lead.

Frey, ranked fourth in the region, won No. 1 singles 6-4, 7-6 over Sandager. The clincher for Trinity was at No. 4 singles, as Kowal outfought Noah Swiler 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.

DePauw’s Rardon beat Cocanougher 6-2, 7-6 at No. 2 singles, and Gates was a 6-4, 6-4 winner over Murray at No. 5. Kahn beat Trinity’s Andrew Hoing 6-2, 6-2 at No. 6 singles.

The No. 3 singles match between DelaFuente and Schouweiler did not finish.

Trinity is led by first-year head coach Russell McMindes, a former Tiger standout. He took over for longtime coach Butch Newman, now Trinity’s director of tennis. Coach Newman led the Tiger men and women to the 2000 NCAA Championships.

Trinity University vs DePauw University
4/25/2010 at North Little Rock, Ark.

#14 Trinity University 5, #16 DePauw University 3

Singles competition
1. Max Frey (TRINITY) def. Scott Sandager (DEPAUW) 6-4, 7-6
2. Michael Rarden (DEPAUW) def. Bobby Cocanougher (TRINITY) 6-2, 7-6
3. Erick DelaFuente (TRINITY) vs. Hunter Schouweiler (DEPAUW) DNF
4. Cory Kowal (TRINITY) def. Noah Swiler (DEPAUW) 6-2, 5-7, 6-3
5. Will Gates (DEPAUW) def. Don Murray (TRINITY) 6-4, 6-4
6. Andrew Kahn (DEPAUW) def. Don Hoing (TRINITY) 6-2, 6-2

Doubles competition
1. Bobby Cocanougher/Cory Kowal (TRINITY) def. Scott Sandager/Will Gates (DEPAUW) 8-6
2. Erick DelaFuente/Max Frey (TRINITY) def. Jonathan Batuello/Hunter Schouweiler (DEPAUW) 8-4
3. Benjamin Carroll/Don Murray (TRINITY) def. Michael Rarden/Andrew Kahn (DEPAUW) 8-1

In other matches on Sunday, Rhodes College defeated Oglethorpe University, 8-1, in the third-place match; Sewanee defeated Millsaps College, 7-2, in the fifth-place match, and Centre College defeated Colorado College, 6-3, in the seventh-place match.

Hendrix College defeated Southwestern University, 7-2, on Saturday to wrap up ninth place.

North Texas upsets No. 49 FIU; Advances to NCAA’s for first time

North Texas Tennis claimed its first Sun Belt Conference Championship Sunday afternoon in dramatic fashion over No. 49 Florida International 4-3.

The Mean Green (17-6) dug itself a hole early, dropping the doubles point and then the first two singles matches.

In doubles, the duo of Narine Kazarova and Madura Ranganathan jumped out on top of FIU’s Maria Vallsciani and Maria Spenceley and took home the match 8-0 in the No.3 slot.

North Texas’ other two doubles teams of Irina Paraschiv and Amy Joubert in the No. 1 slot and Catalina Cruz and Barabora Vykydalova in the No.2 slot were not as lucky.

Paraschiv and Joubert fell to Golden Panthers’ Liset Brito and Priscilla Castillo 8-3 and Cruz and Vykydalova dropped their match to Christine Seredni and Mariana Muci 8-4.

Singles saw FIU extend its lead to 3-0 quickly when Castillo defeated Kazarova in the No. 5 slot 6-0, 6-1 and Brito took down Ranganathan in the No. 1 slot 6-1, 6-1.

The Mean Green stormed back from there, starting with No. 3 singles player Paula Dinuta. After struggling through the first set, the sophomore dominated the second and took the match in straight sets 7-5, 6-1.

Vykydalova continued the North Texas run minutes later when she defeated 6-3, 7-5.

After a convincing 6-1 victory in the first set, Paraschiv had to battle through her second set. FIU’s Seredni jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second set before the dynamic sophomore turned it on.

Paraschiv ended up taking the second set in a tiebreaker, 7-6, to seal the victory and square the match at three a piece.

That left the match on the shoulders of the lone senior on the 2010 Mean Green, Catalina Cruz. After a 6-1 victory in the first set by Cruz, the Golden Panther’s Vallasciani fought her way to a 5-7 victory to force a deciding set for the championship.

Cruz started out strong, taking a 4-2 lead before allowing Vallasciani to claw her way back to a 6-5 lead. From there, the two would end up at 6-6 and have to play a deciding tiebreaker.

Vallsciani jumped out to a commanding 5-1 lead in the tiebreaker, before allowing Cruz to come from behind and take the match 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5).

North Texas will await NCAA Tournament selection and seeding before it knows when and where it will participate. Check for updates.

North Texas vs FIU Golden Panthers
Apr 25, 2010 at New Orleans, La.
(University Tennis Ctr)
North Texas 4, #49 FIU Golden Panthers 3
Singles competition
1. #90 Brito, Liset (FIU) def. Ranganathan, Madura (NT) 6-1, 6-1
2. Paraschiv, Irina (NT) def. Seredni, Christine (FIU) 6-1, 7-6 (7-5)
3. Dinuta, Paula (NT) def. Muci, Mariana (FIU) 7-5, 6-1
4. Vykydalova, Barbora (NT) def. Spenceley, Maria (FIU) 6-3, 7-5
5. Castillo, Priscilla (FIU) def. Kazarova, Narine (NT) 6-0, 6-1
6. Cruz, Catalina (NT) def. Vallasciani, Maria (FIU) 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5)

Doubles competition
1. Castillo, Priscilla/Brito, Liset (FIU) def. Paraschiv, Irina/Joubert, Amy (NT) 8-3
2. Seredni, Christine/Muci, Mariana (FIU) def. Vykydalova, Barbora/Cruz, Catalina (NT) 8-4
3. Kazarova, Narine/Ranganathan, Madura (NT) def. Vallasciani, Maria/Spenceley, Maria (FIU) 8-0

Match Notes:
North Texas 17-6
FIU Golden Panthers 14-8; National ranking #49
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (5,1,3,4,2,6)
#1 FIU, #2 North Texas
SBC Championship
North Texas advances to NCAA tournament for first time.

Owls end Tulsa’s reign, capture C-USA men’s title; Tachibana clinches

Ron Smarr’s Rice Owls ended four years of frustration as a pair of sophomores battled back to win three-set matches to give Rice the Conference USA Men’s Tennis title with a 4-3 win over Tulsa at Jake Hess Tennis stadium before a raucous, supportive crowd.

Sam Garforth-Bles and Isamu Tachibana delivered the clinching points, with Garforth-Bles tying the match with a win at No. 3 and Tachibana setting of a celebration with a win at No. 5 seconds later. The 41st ranked Owls snapped a four-year losing streak to Tulsa in the C-USA title match, and a five-year run of losses in their conference finale while running their record to 14-10.

“It was a great college tennis match,” Smarr said. “This was one of the largest crowds we’ve had out here since I have been at Rice which really helped. Don’t think that the crowd doesn’t help. It put the pressure on the guys who were left in the match. I am proud of all our players and the effort they gave today. But I really want to praise the leadership of our seniors, Bruno Rosa and Dennis Polyakov. They really pulled this team together,” Smarr added.

After the Owls had fallen behind 3-1, senior Bruno Rosa sparked the crowd with an emotional straight set win over 35th ranked Marcelo Arevalo, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4. Rosa continuously energized the crowd with his passing shots and admitted that he played to the crowd to help inspire his teammates on the other Hess courts.

“The crowd was great, and I wanted to get them excited and loud so that all my teammates on the other courts would hear them as well. There’s no doubt it helped us. I could not think of a better way to end my last match at Jake Hess than to be celebrating with my teammates and holding this (championship) trophy,” Rosa said.

Rosa closed out his home career by extending his unbeaten streak in singles to 10 matches, winning eight and having two others not completed. The win over Arevalo was his fifth in his last 11 matches over a ranked opponent for the two-time All American.

The day opened with a tight battle for the doubles point. Rosa and Tachibana won at No. 2 for the Owls, but Tulsa struck back to grab the first point of the match with wins at No. 1 and No. 3.

That left Rice with the task of winning four of six singles matches, a formula the Owls followed to defeat the Golden Hurricane 4-3 in a dual match earlier this month.

Oscar Podlewski briefly tied the score at 1-1 with a straight set win at No. 4, but Tulsa struck back with wins at No. 6 and No. 2 to put the Owls title hopes in peril.

Rosa closed that gap, and the match fell to Rice’s two sophomores, who took alternate routes to the decisive third sets. Garforth-Bles lost the first set and fell behind in the second, while Tachibana won his opening set, then dropped the second 6-1.

“Even thought I lost the first set, I felt like I was playing well,” Garforth-Bles said. “I fell behind in the second, but I never felt like I was out of it. The crowd was amazing and really pushed me. Once I got on a roll, they were even louder and it was a lot of fun.”

Garforth-Bles jumped out to a 3-2 lead in the final set, but then saw Tulsa’s Philip Stephens break his serve to draw event. But Garforth-Bles quickly made amends, breaking Stephens in the next game to take a lead he would not relinquish.

Tachibana was working on little sleep for the final, finding it hard to sleep in anticipation of the showdown with Tulsa. “I think I might have slept an hour last night,” he said. Even though he was playing on one of the back courts at Jake Hess, he had no trouble gauging how the match was progressing. “This match today, this is why I play college tennis. This environment was amazing. I could hear the crowd cheering and I knew it was coming down to the end. I kept my focus after that second set, and then it all came together so quickly at the end,” he added.

Tachibana took the final set over Marko Ballok, 6-4, clinching the title for the Owls and securing the team a berth in its eighth consecutive NCAA tournament in two weeks.

Give the rugged schedule he laid out for his Owls, there were times this year when Smarr worried that his team might not be able to continue the streak. But now, the challenges of that schedule seem to have honed the Owls competitive edge.

“We’re playing well right now and have one eight of our last 10. We’re probably the best 14-10 in the country and looking forward to finding out who we will be playing in the NCAA Tournament.” Smarr stated.

#41 Rice 4, #36 Tulsa 3
Singles competition
1. #29 Bruno Rosa (RICE) def. #35 Marcelo Arevalo (TULS) 7-6 (7-4), 6-4
2. #54 Ashley Watling (TULS) def. Michael Nuesslein (RICE) 6-2, 6-4
3. Sam Garforth-Bles (RICE) def. Philip Stephens (TULS) 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
4. Oscar Podlewski (RICE) def. Alastair Barnes (TULS) 6-4, 6-2
5. Isamu Tachibana (RICE) def. Marko Ballok (TULS) 6-3, 1-6, 6-4
6. Grant Ive (TULS) def. Christian Saravia (RICE) 6-2, 7-5

Doubles competition
1. #27 Ashley Watling/Philip Stephens (TULS) def. #71 Michael Nuesslein/Christian Saravia (RICE) 8-6
2. Grant Ive/Alastair Barnes (TULS) def. Bruno Rosa/Isamu Tachibana (RICE) 9-7
3. Marcelo Arevalo/Marko Ballok (TULS) def. Dennis Polyakov/Oscar Podlewski (RICE) 8-5

Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (4,6,2,1,3,5)