WACO – No. 4 seed Texas A&M won the doubles point and went on to win three singles matches in straight sets to defeat No. 5 seed Nebraska, 4-0, in blustery conditions today in a Big 12 Championship quarterfinal match at the Baylor Tennis Center.
The Aggies, who have won five of their last six matches, improve to 15-7 and advance to the semifinals for the 14th time in the 15-year history of the tournament. They will face the winner between No. 1 seed Baylor and No. 9 seed Oklahoma State Saturday at 1 p.m. (Baylor and OSU were tied 2-2 at press time.)
“I felt like a big plus for us today was winning that doubles point,” A&M coach Bobby Kleinecke said. “That was the difference in putting a lot of pressure on Nebraska, by winning the doubles. That was big for us.”
A&M, which defeated the Cornhuskers, 5-2, in a regular-season match-up in Lincoln, Neb., on April 17, posted a win at No. 1 doubles as senior Christi Liles (Largo, Fla.) and freshman Christi Potgieter (Petrsuville, South Africa) won four consecutive games to close out an 8-3 victory against 81st-ranked Madeleine Geibert and Stefani Weinstein at the No. 1 line.
Seniors Stephanie Davidson (Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas) and Morgan Frank (Oldsmar, Fla.), who are both ranked in the A&M top 10 records with 97 and 89 career doubles victories, respectively, then clinched the crucial point with an 8-5 win against Patricia Veresova and Janine Weinreich at the No. 2 line
Nebraska’s Jennifer Holmberg and Maike Zeppernick held a 7-5 lead against junior Sheri Olivier (Topeka, Kan.) and sophomore Nazari Urbina (Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico) when the match was stopped.
A&M, which entered the match 13-0 when winning the doubles point this season, began singles by winning the first set on four courts, but the Huskers were making A&M earn every point.
“This was the match I kind of expected to see in the regular season, where I knew they were good and I knew they were a fighting team and they just didn’t show up that day we played them,” Kleinecke said. “So we knew we were going to see a stronger match today. The wind was tough, but both sides have to deal with it. I’m very pleased with the fight that we showed out there.”
Potgieter gave the Aggies a 2-0 lead with a 6-1, 6-3 victory against Weinreich at the No. 4 line.
Frank, the Big 12 No. 2 singles champion after going 10-1 during the regular season, broke away from a 3-3 tie in the first set to defeat Veresova, 6-3, 6-3, and extend her season-high winning streak to eight matches. It also was Frank’s 90th career win, moving her into a tie with Elzé Potgieter for seventh in the A&M all-time career records.
Redshirt sophomore Janelle Cuthbertson then clinched the win for the Aggies with a straight-set win at the No. 5 line. The Perth, Australia native was tied at 3-3 in the first set against Holmberg before reeling off three straight games to win the first set, 6-3. Cuthbertson won the second set by the identical score to secure the Aggies’ spot in the semifinals.
Urbina and Liles had both dropped first sets at No. 1 and 3, respectively. Urbina was leading 3-1 in the second set against Geibert when play was stopped, and Liles came back from a 4-1 deficit to win the second set and force a third set against Weinstein. The match was stopped with Weinstein holding a narrow 2-1 lead in the final set.
Davidson had won her first set against Zeppernick , 7-5, at the No. 6 line, but the Husker held a 5-2 second-set lead when A&M clinched the win.
“This was the pressure match,” Kleinecke said. “This was the match (the players) felt they had to win, and tomorrow we can let it all hang out and go for it.
“I’m really happy with the competition that the Big 12 showed this year. All of the teams stepped up, and that is a big help to all of us when we are having close matches. You have to be ready to play, and that helps all of us as the season goes on and the NCAAs come up.”
Nebraska, which joins the Big Ten Conference in July, falls to 20-7 for the season and finish 0-4 all-time against the Aggies in Big 12 Championship matches. The last time the two teams met in the tournament, A&M went on to capture the 2004 championship title, the only time the Aggies have won the tournament.
Free live scoring of the matches will be available at AggieAthletics.com
No. 30 Texas A&M 4, No. 41 Nebraska
Big 12 Championship — Quarterfinal
Baylor Tennis Center
1. (#32) Nazari Urbina (TAMU) vs. Madeleine Geibert (NU), 6-7 (3), 3-1 (unfinished)
2. (#98) Morgan Frank (TAMU) def. Patricia Veresova (NU), 6-3, 6-3
3. Christi Liles (TAMU) vs. Stefanie Weinstein (NU), 1-6, 7-5, 1-2 (unfinished)
4. Christi Potgieter (TAMU) def. Janine Weinreich (NU), 6-1, 6-3
5. Janelle Cuthbertson (TAMU) def. Jennifer Holmberg (NU), 6-3, 6-3
6. Stephanie Davidson (TAMU) vs. Maike Zeppernick (NU) 7-5, 2-5 (unfinished)
Doubles (A&M wins the point)
1. Liles/Potgieter (TAMU) def. (#81) Geibert/Weinstein (NU), 8-3
2. Davidson/Frank/ (TAMU) def. Veresova/Weinreich (NU), 8-5
3. Holmberg/Zeppernick (NU) vs. Sheri Olivier/Urbina (TAMU), 7-5 (unfinished)
Order of finish:
Doubles: 1, 2
Singles: 4, 2, 5*