TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Texas A&M women’s tennis team broke into the win column today, defeating No. 56 Ohio State, 5-2, in the consolation match at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center on the Florida State University Campus.
“It is super good for the girls and at a personal level for me to get this win,” first-year head coach Howard Joffe said. “I don’t think we played as well as we did yesterday (a close 4-3 loss to Ole Miss), but the fight, the attitude and the competitiveness were equally good, so we were fortunate to get the win.”
OSU won the first doubles match to be completed as Joffe was forced to change the lineup at the No. 2 line due the leg injury suffered by Janelle Cuthbertson in the Aggies’ season opener. Freshman Janine Erasmus replaced Cuthbertson in doubles and teamed with Nazari Urbina. The pair lost the first three games to OSU’s Kelsey Haviland and Noelle Malley but managed to come back and tie the match at 4-4. The Buckeye duo then rallied to win the next four games to take the match.
Sheri Olivier and Lauren Santacroce evened the race for the doubles point, winning five consecutive games during a run that propelled the Aggie tandem to an 8-3 victory over Fidan Manashirova and Noelle Malley at the No. 3 position.
The point came down to the No. 1 line, where A&M’s unranked duo of Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Sun Wen were pitted against 52nd-ranked Kara Cecil and Kelsey Dieters. The Aggies were down a break at 5-3 before they reeled off five consecutive games — including a comeback from a 40-love deficit to break serve and go up 7-5 – to get the win and clinch the point.
The Buckeyes would take a 2-1 lead in the match after winning the first two doubles matches to be completed. Manashirova downed Wen, 6-2, 6-0, at the No 6 line to knot the team score, and Tiffany Dittmer put OSU ahead with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Olivier, who moved into the No. 6 spot with Cuthbertson out of the lineup.
“With the injury to Janelle, we had Sheri play in her first singles match and Janine play in her first doubles match,” Joffe said, “and so that in itself was unsettling in that at No. 2 doubles, we had no practice which also made it a bit of a challenge. But the girls fought really well. We definitely need to get better, no question about it.”
The Buckeyes’ lead did not last long, and the rest of the day belonged to the Aggies as A&M closed out the contest with four straight-set victories. Santacroce quickly tied the team score at 2-2 with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Steele at No. 4 singles. In another bang-bang finish Sanchez-Quintanar, ranked No. 11 nationally in singles, immediately followed and returned the lead to A&M with a 6-2, 6-0 win against Cecil at the top of the lineup. The junior who is in her first season at A&M after transferring from Maryland, led the first set, 4-2, before winning eight consecutive games to close out the match and put the Aggies up, 3-2.
Shortly thereafter, Urbina clinched the winning point for A&M, winning four straight games to complete a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Haviland at the No. 2 line and secure the Aggies’ first victory of the season.
Erasmus, who moved up to the No. 5 line after playing No. 6 yesterday, then capped the win for the Aggies. The freshman won her first set against Dieters 6-2, and the second set was tied at 4-4 when Erasmus broke Dieters’ serve to take the lead. Erasmus then held serve to close out the straight-set victory and record the final point for the Aggies.
“We need to generally work on the doubles since the partners are going to have to change if Janelle isn’t healthy,” Joffe said when asked what areas the team would be working on during the upcoming week of practice. “But specifically all of the girls are doing just fine. They have lots of work to do top-to-bottom on all aspects of the game, so that is what Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be all about.”
Next up for the Aggies is a trip to Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday, Feb. 5 to face future Southeastern Conference foe and 65th-ranked LSU. First serve is at 1 p.m. at the W.T. “Dub” Robinson Tennis Stadium.
“My overall hope is that when we play Sunday, we are playing a little better than we did this weekend, or a lot better if we can,” Joffe added. “And then of course the immediate hope is that we line up well and get a win against LSU.”
Live scoring updates of the Aggies’ match against LSU will be available on the A&M women’s tennis schedule page on AggieAthletics.com.
No. 29 Texas A&M 5, No. 56 Ohio State 2
ITA Kick-Off Weekend — Consolation Match
January 29, 2012
Scott Speicher Tennis Center, Tallahassee, Fla.
1. (#11) Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar (TAMU) def. Kara Cecil (OSU), 6-2, 6-0
2. (#105) Nazari Urbina (TAMU) def. Kelsey Haviland (OSU), 6-2, 6-2
3. Fidan Manashirova (OSU) def. (#61) Sun Wen (TAMU), 6-2, 6-0
4. Lauren Santacroce (TAMU) def. Gabby Steele (OSU), 6-4, 6-2
5. Janine Erasmus (TAMU) def. Kelsey Dieters (OSU),6-2, 6-4
6. Tiffany Dittmer (OSU) def. Sheri Olivier (TAMU), 6-3, 6-1
Doubles (A&M wins the point)
1. Sanchez-Quintanar/Wen (TAMU) def. (#52) Cecil/Dieters (OSU), 8-5
2. Haviland/Noelle Malley (OSU) def. Erasmus/Urbina (TAMU), 8-4
3. Olivier/Santacroce (TAMU) def. Manashirova/Steele (OSU), 8-3
Order of finish
Doubles: 2, 3, 1
Singles: 3, 6, 4, 1, 2*, 5
* – Clinched match
Texas A&M: 1-1
Ohio State: 2-3