Aeriel Ellis receives ITA/Cissie Leary National Award for Sportsmanship

UT junior All-American Aeriel Ellis becomes the first Longhorn to win the prestigious national honor from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

ATHENS, Ga. – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) announced Tuesday the selection of Texas junior All-American Aeriel Ellis (Hayward, Calif.) as the national recipient of the ITA/Cissie Leary Award for Sportsmanship. Ellis, who was announced last week as the Cissie Leary Award recipient for the ITA’s Texas Region, is the first Longhorn to win the national award in its 15-year history.

The award is given to a junior or senior who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment and unwavering dedication to her team. The ITA annually rewards a deserving NCAA Division I women’s tennis player who brings exceptional hard work, courage, sportsmanship and a positive, cooperative attitude that makes people around her play better.

“This award goes to someone of great character who excels on the tennis court and has overcome adversity,” said UT head coach Patty Fendick-McCain. “Aeriel is an inspiration to all of us given what she has been through, personally. As a coach, it is gratifying to see her be recognized because she is so deserving.”

Ellis, who has played at the top singles position for the Longhorns since her freshman season, missed five matches this season while she and her family attended to her ailing mother, who battled cancer. Mrs. Linda Ellis passed away in late March.

“I want to thank my team and my Texas family for their support this season,” Aeriel Ellis said. “It means a lot to have a great group of people behind you.”

“Aeriel always puts her teammates first,” Fendick-McCain added. “She is a humble leader who sets an example every single day with her actions, and that strengthens the core of our team. Aeriel has helped to create a winning culture on our team through her leadership, unselfish attitude and her knack for putting everybody else first.”

The award, which dates back to 1997, was named in memory of the late Cissie Leary, a former women’s tennis coach at The University of Pennsylvania.

Ellis helped the Longhorns win their first Big 12 Championship since 2005 with a pair of wins against Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals and top-seeded Texas Tech in the semifinals. Ellis helped the 10th-ranked Longhorns reach the round of 16 at the NCAA Championship, as she defeated Nebraska’s 45th-ranked Mary Weatherholt in straight sets in UT’s NCAA round-of-32 win over the Cornhuskers.

Ellis has qualified to compete in the NCAA Championship’s singles draw for a third time in as many years. The 40th-ranked Ellis will take on Georgia’s 58th-ranked Maho Kowase on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Central in Athens, Ga. Live scoring will be available at GeorgiaDogs.com.

Ellis has qualified to compete in all nine national championship events contested during her three seasons as a Longhorn.

No. 6 Georgia blanks No. 11 Texas, 4-0 in NCAA Championship round of 16

Bulldogs take the doubles point and add three singles wins, as the Longhorns’ season ends with a 19-8 overall record.

ATHENS, Ga. – Sixth-seeded Georgia (24-4) claimed the doubles point and posted three singles wins in a 4-0 victory over 11th-seeded Texas Thursday evening in the round of 16 at the NCAA Championship. The Longhorns’ season, which featured UT’s first Big 12 Championship since 2005 and its third NCAA round-of-16 appearance in the last five seasons, comes to an end with a 19-8 overall record. The host Bulldogs advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals where they will meet the winner of Thursday’s Duke-Virginia match.

Georgia opened the doubles session by registering early service breaks on all three courts, and the Bulldogs ultimately took control of each match. Georgia’s 46th-ranked duo of Kate Fuller and Nadja Gilchrist broke for a 5-3 lead over Texas’ Lina Padegimaite and Noel Scott at first doubles, and the UGA tandem ultimately prevailed, 8-3.

Georgia’s Chelsey Gullickson and Lauren Herring raced out to a 5-1 lead over UT’s Krista Damico and Cierra Gaytan-Leach at second doubles. The Bulldogs went on to close out an 8-4 win that sealed the doubles point. The remaining match at third doubles was suspended.

Texas and Georgia played over an hour into singles play and completed the first sets in each match before heavy rain forced the teams off of the courts. NCAA officials elected to relocate the match to Georgia’s nearby indoor tennis facility, which houses four courts, and play resumed an hour later.

In the match at second singles featuring UGA’s Gilchrist against Texas’ Damico, Gilchrist held serve for a 5-4 lead before breaking Damico to take the set, 6-4. Gilchrist held a 4-1 second-set lead when rain halted the match. After play resumed, Damico held serve to pull within 4-2, but Gilchrist held serve and broke Damico once more to take a 6-2 second-set win and push the Bulldogs’ lead to 2-0.

Texas’ Scott trailed Georgia’s Herring by a 4-0 count at fourth singles before pulling within 4-3. But, Herring held serve and broke Scott to take the set, 6-3. Leading 4-3 when the match relocated indoors, Herring broke and held again to claim the second set, 6-3 and extend the Georgia lead to 3-0.

The clinching point came from Georgia’s 58th-ranked Kowase against UT’s Padegimaite at third singles. Kowase raced out to a 4-0 lead before Padegimaite inched her way back and evened the set at five games all. Kowase held serve and broke Padegimaite in the next two games to take the first set, 7-5. Kowase raced out to a 4-0 lead once more in the second set before finishing off a 6-1 second-set win indoors that gave Georgia its fourth point that clinched the match.

The remaining matches at first, fifth and sixth singles were called given that Georgia had clinched the match. The Bulldogs’ Gullickson held a 6-4, 5-3 lead over UT’s Ellis at first singles. After dropping the first set, 6-1 to Georgia’s 96th-ranked Fuller, Gaytan-Leach rebounded to take a 5-4 second-set lead when the match was called. Texas’ Begley dropped the first set to Georgia’s Kimbell at sixth singles before taking a 4-1 second-set lead when the match was clinched.

Aeriel Ellis will begin play in the 64-player singles draw at the NCAA Championship on Wednesday, May 23. Ellis registered two singles wins in the event last season, which made her UT’s first All-American since the 2000 season. Ellis has qualified for all nine national championship events contested in her three seasons as a Longhorn.

POST-MATCH PRESS CONFERENCE COMMENTS
Texas head coach Patty Fendick-McCain
On Georgia
They (Georgia) just played better than us, quite frankly. They played with a lot of heart. They just outplayed us today, it’s as simple as that. I think we needed to have our A-plus games, the way that they played. We just met a better opponent today.

On the Longhorns’ season and NCAA finish
Well, for us, it’s about putting in the work every single day, and it’s about consistency. We had a lot of ups and downs this year. We showed great resiliency throughout the year. We took a couple of hard knocks along the way and bounced right back and did really well afterward. For us, getting here and making the final 16 was great, but we had hoped to go quite deep in the draw. I thought we had the talent and the mental toughness – everything that’s required to go deep in this draw. We have a very young team, and this was their first taste of this for a lot of them. Our freshmen and sophomores had not experienced something like this before. They will gain a lot from this experience and use it to their advantage next year.

On the Georgia crowd
I think the Georgia fans are just good, spirited fans. They are very good sports. It adds to the excitement of the match. I don’t think it put off anybody on our team. We knew there would be a lot of Georgia fans here.

On whether she felt the rain delay would swing the momentum
I was doing a rain dance at one point (laughs), but unfortunately these two (Georgia) girls at No. 1 and No. 2, they were pretty good indoors, so that didn’t help us when we had to start off with our top four in (due to Georgia having four indoor courts, instead of six). I was kind of hoping we could flip a coin and get to start with five and six out there, because we were doing okay there.

NCAA Championship Round of 16
(6) Georgia 4, (11) Texas 0
Dan Magill Tennis Complex – Athens, Ga.
Doubles – Order of Finish: 1, 2
1 #46 Kate Fuller/Nadja Gilchrist (UGA) def. Lina Padegimaite/Noel Scott (UT) – 8-3
2 Chelsey Gullickson/Lauren Herring (UGA) def. Krista Damico/Cierra Gaytan-Leach (UT) – 8-4
3 Lilly Kimbell/Maho Kowase (UGA) vs. Elizabeth Begley/Aeriel Ellis (UT) – 6-3, susp.

Singles – Order of Finish – 2, 4, 3
1 #7 Chelsey Gullickson (UGA) vs. #40 Aeriel Ellis (UT) – 6-4, 5-3, susp.
2 Nadja Gilchrist (UGA) def. #68 Krista Damico (UT) – 6-4, 6-2
3 #58 Maho Kowase (UGA) def. Lina Padegimaite (UT) – 7-5, 6-1
4 #70 Lauren Herring (UGA) def. Noel Scott (UT) – 6-3, 6-3
5 Cierra Gaytan-Leach (UT) vs. #96 Kate Fuller (UGA) – 1-6, 5-4, susp.
6 Elizabeth Begley (UT) vs. Lilly Kimbell (UGA) – 4-6, 4-1, susp.

No. 12 Baylor’s Season Ends in 4-1 Loss to No. 5 USC

Baylor finishes the season with a 25-8 record

Baylor’s women’s tennis team saw its season end in the NCAA Championship Round of 16 with a 4-1 loss to fifth-seeded USC at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., on Thursday afternoon.

After winning four first sets in singles, it looked promising for the Lady Bears, but USC regrouped and won three singles matches to claim the victory. The 12th-ranked Baylor squad ended its season at 25-8 while No. 5 USC moves to 23-3 overall. The loss snaps a streak of four straight NCAA Championship Quarterfinal appearances for the Lady Bears.

“I felt like we absolutely had a chance to take this match, it was right there,” head coach Joey Scrivano said. “USC is a really good team, and they aren’t going to just give it to us. I felt like we just didn’t execute well enough to get the win. The positive is we’ve got a lot of things we need to get better at for next season. It’s tough to emulate this type of atmosphere in practice, but that’s what we’ve got to do.”

Despite being out-ranked at all three doubles courts, Baylor represented itself well, although the Trojans eventually claimed the point. On Court 1, BU’s 78th-ranked tandem of Megan Horter and Nina Secerbegovic fell to third-ranked Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria, 8-4. Baylor countered when Ema Burgic and Diana Nakic downed 49th-ranked Valeria Pulido and Zoe Scandialis, 8-4. Baylor’s No. 3 duo of Nicole Kosakowski and Sona Novakova fell behind USC’s Danielle Lao and Alison Ramos, ranked No. 75, 1-4 but pulled to within 3-4 and 5-6, before USC claimed an 8-5 triumph and the doubles point.

Jordaan Sanford claimed Baylor’s lone singles win with a quick 6-1, 6-0 victory over Gabriella DeSimone on court five. In that match, Sanford lost the opening game, but won 12 in a row to down DeSimone. On Court 6, Horter dropped a 6-1, 6-3 match to Pulido, enabling USC to take a 2-1 lead. USC gained a 3-1 advantage when BU’s Novakova, ranked No. 56 and playing at No. 3, won the first set, 6-4, but fell in the second and third stanzas 6-2, 6-3, to 26th-ranked Santamaria. USC put the finishing touches on the match with a victory at No. 1 singles when No. 14 Scandalis downed 23rd-ranked Secerbegovic 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Next, Baylor will be represented by its senior trio of Diana Nakic, Sona Novakova and Nina Secerbegovic in the NCAA Individual Singles Championship, and by Secerbegovic and Ema Burgic in the NCAA Individual Doubles Championship beginning on May 23 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.

Baylor vs USC
May 17, 2012 at Athens, Ga.
(Dan Magill Tennis Complex)
#5 USC 4, #12 Baylor 1
Singles competition
1. #14 Zoe Scandalis (USC) def. #23 Nina Secerbegovic (BU) 2-6, 6-1, 6-4
2. #19 Danielle Lao (USC) vs. #16 Diana Nakic (BU) 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), unfinished
3. #26 Sabrina Santamaria (USC) def. #56 Sona Novakova (BU) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
4. #89 Kaitlyn Christian (USC) vs. Ema Burgic (BU) 7-5, 2-6, 3-2, unfinished
5. Jordaan Sanford (BU) def. Gabriella DeSimone (USC) 6-1, 6-0
6. Valeria Pulido (USC) def. Megan Horter (BU) 6-1, 6-3

Doubles competition
1. #3 Kaitlyn Christian/Sabrina Santamaria (USC) def. #78 Megan Horter/Nina Secerbegovic (BU) 8-4
2. Ema Burgic/Diana Nakic (BU) def. #49 Valeria Pulido/Zoe Scandalis (USC) 8-4
3. #75 Danielle Lao/Alison Ramos (USC) def. Nicole Kosakowski/Sona Novakova (BU) 8-5

Match Notes:
Baylor 25-8; National ranking #12
USC 23-3; National ranking #5
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (5,6,3,1)

Bruins End Owls’ NCAA Run

UCLA 4, Rice 0

Top-ranked UCLA deflected an early challenge by Rice and then rode a consistent effort throughout its talented lineup to down the Owls 4-0, ending Rice’s magical run through the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship on Thursday in Athens, Georgia.

“It’s always disappointing to lose, but I am super-proud of the team and the effort they have shown all year,” Rice head coach Elizabeth Schmidt said. We left it all out on the court today and fought for every point, but in the end UCLA showed why they are number one in the country. We can hold our heads high because we gave it everything we had.”

Facing a lineup heavy with nationally ranked opponents, the Owls were decided underdog in their first appearance in the Sweet 16. UCLA’s top two doubles teams are both ranked in the top 10, but in the early going, the Owls battled the Bruins evenly.

“I thought we really got off to good starts at 2 and 3 doubles. We really could not have started off better at 3. We were up 2-0 and had our chances to go up 3-0. We were up early at 2, but that is the difference about teams at this level. They stick with their game. UCLA didn’t panic. The good news is that we were challenging them. No we have to try and take that next step and be able to play the way they do on the big points.”

The Owls early surge on Courts 2 and 3 was thwarted, but on Court 1, where Natalie Beazant and Domnique Harmath found themselves quickly down 4-0 to the Bruins’ sixth-ranked pair of Robin Anderson/Skylar Morton, the Owls 26th ranked tandem staged a rally of their own, storming back to take a 7-6 lead. UCLA then clichéd the doubles point with wins at 2 and 3, leaving the match on Court 1 unfinished with UCLA up 8-7.

UCLA made sure that an early challenge would not be mounted in singles, storming to first set wins on all six courts, including wins of 6-0 on both Courts 1 and 2. They wrapped the day’s action up with a win at t6 and then closing out the matches on the first two courts to end Rice’s season at 18-9.

The loss to UCLA’s Anderson, a fellow freshman who is currently ranked fourth in the country, snapped Beazant’s 17-match winning streak, but was only her second loss in 11 matches against ranked opponents. She will have a chance to add to her season record of 23-2 early next week when the NCAA singles completion begins in Athens. She and Harmath will also play in the NCAA doubles tournament next week.

With the 2012 season less than an hour behind her, Schmidt was already looking forward to the 2013 campaign and the return of five of the six players who took the court against the Bruins.

“This is a great team, a resilient team and we have a lot of great things to look forward to,” Schmidt said. “An experience like this is only going to help us get better. It was our first time here, but I think we handled it well. We didn’t have the deer in the headlights look in our eyes. I don’t think we came out scared. We went for it, but UCLA just played better than us.

“This is the first time that Rice has been here, but it’s not going to be the last,” Schmidt stated.

Rice vs UCLA
5/17/2012 at Athens,Georgia
(Dan MaGill Tennis Complex)
#1 UCLA 4, #39 Rice 0
Singles competition
1. #4 Robin Anderson (UCLA) def. #36 Natalie Beazant (RICE) 6-0, 6-4
2. #98 McCall Jones (UCLA) def. Dominique Harmath (RICE) 6-0, 6-1
3. #73 Pamela Montez (UCLA) vs. Katie Gater (RICE) 7-5, 3-1, unfinished
4. #124 Skylar Morton (UCLA) vs. Ana Guzman (RICE) 6-3, 3-3, unfinished
5. #119 Chanelle Van Nguyen (UCLA) vs. Kimberly Anicete (RICE) 6-4, 4-2, unfinished
6. #114 Carling Seguso (UCLA) def. Stephanie Nguyen (RICE) 6-3, 6-1

Doubles competition
1. #6 Robin Anderson/Skylar Morton (UCLA) vs. #26 Natalie Beazant/Dominique Harmath (RICE) 8-7, unfinished
2. #9 Pamela Montez/Courtney Dolehide (UCLA) def. Katie Gater/Ana Guzman (RICE) 8-3
3. McCall Jones/Carling Seguso (UCLA) def. Stephanie Nguyen/Kimberly Anicete (RICE) 8-2

Match Notes:
Rice 18-9; National ranking #39
UCLA 24-2; National ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (6,2,1)
NCAA Sweet 16

Sunday NCAA Results – AGATE

SUNDAY RESULTS

MEN
Los Angeles Regional
USC 4 Texas A&M 0

Durham Regional
Duke 4 LSU 1

Charlottesville Regional
Virginia 4 Virginia Commonwealth 0

Berkeley Regional
Cal 4 Texas Tech 3

Palo Alto Regional
Stanford 4 Santa Clara 1

Columbus Regional
Ohio St 4 Notre Dame 0

Gainesville Regional
Florida 4 Harvard 0

Oxford Regional
Mississippi 4 Michigan 2

Westwood Regional
San Diego 4 Fresno St 0
UCLA 4 Eastern Kentucky 0

Chapel Hill Regional
North Carolina 4 Tennessee 0

Athens Regional
Georgia 4 Florida State 1

Owls Stun Ole Miss, 4-2, Advance to First-ever Sweet 16

Advance to Sweet 16 to face top-seeded UCLA on Thursday
Sweet Georgia Bound

With an overflow crowd cheering on the favored hosts, the Rice women’s tennis once again summoned a performance to remember, routing 16th ranked Ole Miss in a pair of crucial third sets to shock the Rebels 4-2 and earn the Owls their first berth in the NCAA Women’s Tennis Sweet 16 on Saturday night.

The Owls (18-8) will move on to face top-ranked UCLA at 9 a.m. on Thursday at the NCAA Championships in Athens, Georgia.

“I don’t think I have the words that can do justice to the effort we gave on the courts tonight,” Rice head coach Elizabeth Schmidt said. “Nothing I could say right now could come close to describe the incredible heart and fight that each member of the team showed out there.”

With the scored tied at 2-2 and the Owls having won four of six first sets in singles, Ole Miss battled back to win three of four second sets, including wins of 6-2 and 6-0 on Courts 2 and 3. But just when it appeared that the higher ranked team would quell the threat of the upstart, the Owls dramatically turned the tables back the other way, winning two of the three third sets to clinch the win.

Dominique Harmath rebounded from a 6-2 loss with a 6-0 blitzing of Caroline Rohde-Moe in the third to move the Owls to within one of the win. Katie Gater, rebounded from a 6-0 blanking in her second set to clinch the match with a 6-1 2 win in the third.

“The intensity was amazing. The crowd was loud and into the match. You could see both Dominique and Katie were shaking as they were serving for their matches, but that’s OK. That showed how much it meant to them,” Schmidt said.

Flush with their 4-3 upset of 18th ranked Illinois fresh in their minds, the Owls were facing a Rebel lineup that was anchored by senior Kristi Boxx, who was ranked 9th in the nation in singles and 7th in doubles with Abby Guthrie. The Owls knew they would also have to content with a packed house of Rebel tennis fans eager to send their home team on to the next round.

As if those challenges were not enough, they also had to contend with rainy conditions that left their final venue up in the air until late in the day.

“When we first arrived, we were told we were going to be playing indoors after the men’s match was completed (Ole Miss was also hosting a men’s tennis regional),” Schmidt said. “But while we were waiting, the skies cleared. The people here ran a tremendous regional, first class in every way and they worked hard to get the outdoor courts ready to play,” Schmidt noted.

The doubles point began in relative obscurity since live scoring would not be available until the men’s match had concluded. But what Rice fans could not know right away was that the Owls were making an early statement to the Rebels and their fans.

“We knew that the matchup at 1 would be tough, because their team has been so highly ranked all year,” Schmidt said. But Ana (Guzman) and Katie picked up right where they left off on Friday and played another great doubles set to get us on the board quickly. That left it up to Kim and Steph,” Schmidt said.

Earlier in the year, Rice’s third doubles team of Kimberly Anicete and Stephanie Nguyen held the doubles point against Texas A&M on their serve, only to see it slip away. Less than a week later, the pair redeemed themselves by clinching the doubles point to spark a win over Oklahoma that vaulted the Owls into the national top 30. That hard early lesson in College Station would bear even greater fruit on Saturday night in Oxford as the pair ground out a 9-7 win to give Rice a crucial opening statement against the Rebels.

“In their heartaches and in their triumphs, Kim and Steph have grown so much this year,” Schmidt noted. “Everything they experienced prepared them for this moment and they were ready to handle whatever was thrown at them.”

After Ole Miss tied the match with a win on Court 6, the Owls turned to their most consistent performer and freshman Natalie Beazant once again delivered.

Boxx was her highest-ranked opponent this season, but the Conference USA Player of the Year was not intimidated, taking the first set 6-1 before closing out the Owls second point with a 6-3 second set. It was her 17th consecutive win, her eighth in nine matches against ranked opponents and ran her record at No. 1 singles to 22-1. Such statistics are sterling, but are supporting material to the team efforts of the past two matches.

Anicete seemed poised to deliver the Owls next point, but after building a huge lead with a set in hand, she saw the Rebels’ Abby Guthrie mount an impressive comeback of her own to drop the second set 7-5. Guthrie then appeared to take control in the third, leading 4-1 before Anicete mounted yet another charge.

While Gater was eventually clinching the match on Court 2, Anicete was also serving for the match on 5, putting a final exclamation point on a withering third-set performance by the Owls.

As the Owls celebrated their improbable victory, Schmidt could only marvel at the experience of the last two days.

“These two days, these two incredible matches are what college tennis is all about. To see a year’s worth of hard work and dedication pay off the way it did, with everything on the line, that’s what makes it all worthwhile. I am so proud of everyone on this team. They have earned their trip to Athens and a chance to play another match,” Schmidt concluded.

Tennis Match Results
Rice vs Ole Miss
5/12/2012 at Oxford, Mississippi
(Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center)
Rice 4, #16 Ole Miss 2
Singles competition
1. #9 Natalie Beazant (RICE) def. #36 Kristi Boxx (MISS) 6-1, 6-3
2. Dominique Harmath (RICE) def. Caroline Rohde-Moe (MISS) 6-3, 2-6, 6-0
3. Katie Gater (RICE) def. Erin Stephens (MISS) 7-5, 0-6, 6-1
4. Julia Jones (MISS) def. Ana Guzman (RICE) 7-6 (8-6), 6-4
5. Abby Guthrie (MISS) vs. Kimberly Anicete (RICE) 2-6, 7-5, 5-6, unfinished
6. Vivian Vlaar (MISS) def. Stephanie Nguyen (RICE) 6-3, 6-3

Doubles competition
1. #7 Kristi Boxx/Abby Guthrie (MISS) def. #26 Natalie Beazant/Dominique Harmath (RICE) 8-5
2. Katie Gater/Ana Guzman (RICE) def. Erin Stephens/Gabby Rangel (MISS) 8-5
3. Kimberly Anicete/Stephanie Nguyen (RICE) def. Julia Jones/Iris Verboven (MISS) 9-7

Match Notes:
Rice 18-8
Ole Miss 18-9; National ranking #16
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (6,1,4,2,3)
Oxford Regional Championship

A&M Falls Short as Michigan Advances with 4-3 Victory

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – No. 19 Texas A&M battled No. 15 seed Michigan to the last match standing but came up short in a 4-3 season-ending loss in the second round of the NCAA Championship today at the Varsity Tennis Center.

A&M, making its first second round appearance since 2008, finishes the season a better-than-expected 19-6 under first-year head coach Howard Joffe.

“In interviews throughout the season I’ve talked many times about the range of possibility, and I don’t think that anyone who is not very close to the program, at the practices, at the courts or who doesn’t intimately know the players on our team will have any idea or appreciation for how overachieving a group we were this year,” Joffe said. “That is something I am very proud about. (Assistant coach) Mark Weaver has done an outstanding job, and our girls, truly in the five years of being a head coach, I have not had a team that has been so disciplined and worked so hard and done everything that has been asked of them.”

The Aggies came close to reaching the next round by winning the doubles point, despite Michigan taking an early edge to open the match. The Wolverines’ Mimi Nguyen and Michelle Sulahian topped Janelle Cuthbertson and Nazari Urbina at the No. 2 line, but A&M would win the last two matches to clinch the point.

No. 29th-ranked Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Wen Sun pulled off their highest ranked win of the season by defeating 11th-ranked Emina Bektas and Brooke Bolender at the No. 1 line. The Michigan tandem twice got up a service break, but A&M broke back each time and the teams were on serve at 7-7. Then with Sun poaching at the net and using every bit of her 6-foot frame to reach balls and put them down for points, the Aggies broke to take their first lead at 8-7. The A&M pair then held serve as Michigan hit out for the match-winning point.

A&M’s senior duo of Sheri Olivier and Lauren Santacroce then secured the doubles point to give A&M a 1-0 lead. The Aggies never trailed in the match and won three of the last four games to defeat Kristy Dodge and Sarah Lee, 8-4, at No. 3.

“If you look at the results and how we have managed to get the wins this season to get us ranked in the Top 20, yes Cristina, Sun and Nazari have won a lot of matches, but without Lauren and Sheri’s contributions, primarily in the doubles, again today they didn’t flinch,” Joffe said. “They won in the NCAA tournament in the doubles. At the beginning of the year, I wouldn’t have given them a chance to be a pair that could actually win in the NCAA tournament, so they absolutely have far exceeded what I thought they could and are the reason why we were able to get ranked as high as we have this year. It was a great, great effort by both of them.”

Michigan quickly tied the score at the start of singles as Sulahian won 6-1, 6-3 at No. 6 against Janine Erasmus, who was playing in only her 15th match of the season. The Wolverines then took the lead as Lee defeated a banged up Cuthbertson, 6-2, 6-1 at the No. 4 line.

Sixth-ranked Sanchez-Quintanar tied the score at 2-2 and equaled her highest ranked win of the season after holding off 12th-ranked Bektas, 6-4, 7-5, at the top of the lineup. With the win, Sanchez-Quintanar finishes the dual season 24-1 and improves to 36-5 overall to move into sole possession of second place in the A&M season records.

Santacroce came back from a three-game deficit to tie her first set at 5-5 against Dodge at the No. 5 line before Dodge pulled away for a 7-5, 6-1 victory to put the Wolverines up 3-2.

“There is no question that in all of the spots all year, I don’t think I can point to one match where we have been sort of soft either physically or mentally,” Joffe said. “Today I know Lauren battled really, really hard and got it to 5-all in the first set. Janelle’s body didn’t allow her to contest the match as well as she would have liked, but did she let go of the rope, absolutely not. And Janine, which was a bit of the roll of the dice, she hasn’t had very many matches. She is healthy now and so we played her, but unfortunately she didn’t have a ton of matches going in. But even her, she got it in the second set to where it was starting to look fairly promising, so I have to give them all credit.”

Sun held off Nguyen, 6-4, 6-4 at No. 3 to tie the score for the third time and force the decision to come down to the No. 2 line. Urbina had won the first set against Bolender, 6-2, before Bolender got hot in the second set and pulled away for a 6-4 win to force a third set. Bolender then won the first four games of the final set en route to a 6-2 victory to punch the Wolverines’ ticket to the round of 16 for the third consecutive year.

It marked only the second time in 21 matches that A&M lost a match after winning the doubles point.

Although disappointed with the loss, Joffe was proud of the team, which had one of most successful seasons in recent history.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with our kids at the surface level of just today’s match as well as in terms of the whole season,” Joffe said. “I thought the doubles was going to be a critical item. If we were able to win the doubles, I felt like we had a chance of winning the match. Our girls acquitted themselves great in the doubles. It was a brutally, tough competitive doubles point which we won, and then all of the singles matches were very, very tough, and our recipe for knocking off the upper echelon teams this season has been win the doubles and then beat them at 1, 2 and 3. That is a tough way to go when you play a team like this who at No. 1 and 2 has some of the finest players in the country. We came very close to doing that, but the young lady who played Nazari got real hot and started to play extremely well, and you have to give her some credit. She definitely won the match.

“Overall about the season is that I am super thankful to Texas A&M for giving me the opportunity to come work here. It’s been of the five years of being a head coach by a country mile my best experience. The support for our kids and for the coaches is unmatched from anything I’ve ever seen. And for the folks who are supporters of our team, I know that the kids didn’t shortchange them on effort. We got some good results this year, and I look for us to get exponentially better each year as we go forward.”

Although the team’s season has ended, Sanchez-Quintanar and Urbina will compete in the NCAA Singles Championship, and Sanchez-Quintanar also will team with Sun at the NCAA Doubles Championship.

The NCAA singles and doubles competition will be conducted May 23-28 at the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.

No. 15 Michigan 4, No. 19 Texas A&M 3
NCAA Championship – Second Round
May 12, 2011
Varsity Tennis Center
Ann Arbor, Mich.

Singles
1. (#6) Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar (TAMU) def. (#12) Emina Bektas (U-M), 6-4, 7-5
2. (#93) Brooke Bolender (U-M) def. (#53) Nazari Urbina (TAMU), 2-6, 6-4, 6-2
3. (#78) Wen Sun (TAMU) def. Mimi Nguyen (U-M), 6-4, 6-4
4. Sarah Lee (U-M) def. Janelle Cuthbertson (TAMU), 6-2, 6-1
5. Kristy Dodge (U-M) def. Lauren Santacroce (TAMU), 7-5, 6-1
6. Michelle Sulahian (U-M) def. Janine Erasmus (TAMU), 6-1, 6-3

Doubles (A&M wins the point)
1. (#29) Sanchez-Quintanar/Sun (TAMU) def. (#11) Bektas/Bolender (U-M), 9-7
2. Nguyen/Sulahian (U-M) def. Cuthbertson/Urbina (TAMU), 8-2
3. Olivier/Santacroce (TAMU) vs. Dodge/Lee (U-M), 8-4

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

Team records
Texas A&M: 19-6
Michigan: 21-7

Baylor Men Pull Upset, Move on to NCAA Round of 16

Bears down No. 9 Mississippi State, 4-3.

STARKVILLE, Miss. – For the second match in a row, Baylor men’s tennis’ fate rested squarely on the shoulders of Julian Bley. It took him seven match points but the senior came through and the Bears upset ninth-ranked and ninth-seeded Mississippi State (MSU), 4-3, advancing to the NCAA Championships round of 16 for the 11th straight year and 13th time in 15 NCAA appearances.

“This was a huge accomplishment for us to come into this setting against a very good team, deal with the challenges we dealt with today, and come out with the victory,” said head coach Matt Knoll. “I am proud of our guys, especially Julian, he’s worked really hard and deserved this. This year has been a challenging one for us and I’m proud that we get to move on to the round of 16, these guys certainly earned it.”

The match, which began at 10 a.m. this morning, was halted due to rain early in singles competition. After a delay of over an hour, it was decided to move competition to Mississippi State’s two indoor courts. Play resumed at 3 p.m., two matches at a time.

Earlier, Baylor claimed the doubles point when 45th-ranked Kike Grangeiro and Roberto Maytin downed 47th-ranked Louis Cant and Malte Stropp, 8-6, and Bley and Marko Krickovic defeated Zach White and Ethan Wilkinson 9-8, winning the tiebreaker 7-1.

Once play resumed indoors, courts one and two played first. MSU’s No. 88 James Chaudry evened the score at 1-1 with a 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 86 Maytin at No. 2. Baylor countered with a triumph at the top spot by 17th-ranked freshman Mate Zsiga over No. 13 Artem Ilyushin, a senior, 7-5, 6-3. Krickovic, a freshman, gave BU a 3-1 lead with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Stropp, a sophomore, at No. 3.

The Bulldogs claimed the next two points, evening the score at 3-3, with wins at No. 5 and 4, singles, respectively. Grangeiro, a senior, fell to another senior, Cant, 6-4, 6-2 and senior George Coupland defeated freshman Diego Galeano in three sets. Coupland won the first set 6-2 but Galeano rebounded to take the second, 6-2. However, Coupland posted a 6-4 third-set win.

When play saw suspended at approximately 1:05, Bley and Zach White, playing at No. 6, were tied 6-6 in the first set and 3-3 in the tiebreaker. They finally got back on the court around 5:30 p.m. to resume play. Bley ended up claiming the first set 7-6, winning the tiebreak 7-5. The two evenly matched players dueled to another tiebreak in the second set. Bley never trailed in the tiebreak and had seven match points before finally claiming the victory. Bley caught a break when, with the score tied 10-10, White double faulted then hit a forehand long to give Bley the 12-10 win.

The victory raised Baylor’s season record to 19-11 and 43-13 in NCAA Championship action, it marked the Bears’ second win this season over a top-10 team, they defeated No. 7 Kentucky, 4-3, also on the road. The Bulldogs’ ended their highly-successful season at 20-7.

Baylor will play the winner of tomorrow’s No. 8 Duke and LSU match in the Round of 16. The Bears and their next opponent will meet on Friday, May 18 at 9 a.m. at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.

Tennis Match Results
#25 Baylor 4, #9 Mississippi State 3
May 12, 2012 at Starkville, Miss.
(A.J. Pitts Tennis Center)
Singles competition
Order of finish: 2,1,3,5,4,6

1. #17 Mate Zsiga (BU) def. #13 Artem Ilyushin (MSU) 7-5, 6-3
2. #88 James Chaudry (MSU) def. #86 Roberto Maytin (BU) 6-3, 6-2
3. Marko Krickovic (BU) def. #74 Malte Stropp (MSU) 6-2, 6-4
4. #56 George Coupland (MSU) def. Diego Galeano (BU) 6-2, 2-6, 6-4
5. #50 Louis Cant (MSU) def. Kike Grangeiro (BU) 6-4, 6-2
6. Julian Bley (BU) def. Zach White (MSU) 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (12-10)

Doubles competition
Order of finish: 2,3
1. #25 George Coupland/Artem Ilyushin (MSU) vs. Mate Zsiga/Diego Galeano (BU) 7-6, unfinished
2. #45 Roberto Maytin/Kike Grangeiro (BU) def. #47 Louis Cant/Malte Stropp (MSU) 8-6
3. Julian Bley/Marko Krickovic (BU) def. Zach White/Ethan Wilkinson (MSU) 9-8 (7-1)

Match Notes:
Baylor 19-11, Mississippi State 20-7

No. 12 Baylor Women Ride 4-0 Win Over Tulsa to NCAA Round of 16

Baylor will face the USC/Vanderbilt winner in the Round of 16 in Athens, Ga.

WACO – Baylor’s 12th-seeded women’s tennis team clinched a berth to the Round of 16 with a 4-0 shutout win over No. 25 Tulsa in the NCAA Championship Second Round on Saturday in Waco, Texas.

With the win, Baylor (25-7) advances to the Round of 16 for the eighth consecutive year, and will face the winner of Saturday’s match between Vanderbilt and No. 5 USC in Athens, Ga., on May 17. The Lady Bears, hosting the First and Second Rounds, completed their second straight shutout with doubles wins on Courts 1 and 3, and singles wins on Courts 1, 2 and 6 to defeat Tulsa (23-4).

“We are still not playing our best, I am convinced, but we competed hard and found a way to win today,” head coach Joey Scrivano said. “You can’t put a price tag on experience though. We’re going to have to keep leaning on experience as we go into Athens, Ga. We’re going to go in there and pull every trick out the book to try to make another run.”

Baylor got the job done in doubles for the second consecutive match and fifth in the last six times out. The Lady Bears’ 78th-ranked duo of Nina Secerbegovic and Megan Horter earned the first win of the day, taking down the 68th-ranked pair of Ewa Szatkowska and Anastasia Erofeeva 8-2. BU then got its point-clinching win from Court 3, where Sona Novakova and Nicole Kosakowski defeated Michelle Farley and Maria Sant’Anna 8-6.

In singles, the exact opposite three in the lineup gathered wins on Saturday as compared to the first-round win over Oral Roberts. Against Tulsa, 23rd-ranked senior Secerbegovic came out firing and overpowered No. 49 Anastasia Erofeeva 6-2, 6-0 on Court 1.

The Lady Bears then added two more wins with a victory from 16th-ranked senior Nakic on Court 2 over Tulsa’s 64th-ranked Samantha Vickers, 6-4, 6-1, and from Horter on Court 6 over Bonny Davidson, 6-2, 6-1.

Baylor is now 14-7 overall against ranked opponents and 7-7 against the top 25. The win also gives Baylor 25 for the season, marking the fifth consecutive year with at least that many.

Baylor will await the winner of No. 5 USC and Vanderbilt in the Round of 16. The Lady Bears and their next opponent will meet on May 17 at noon at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.

Tulsa vs Baylor
May 12, 2012 at Waco, Texas
(Hurd Tennis Center)
#12 Baylor 4, #25 Tulsa 0
Singles competition
1. #23 Nina Secerbegovic (BU) def. #49 Anastasia Erofeeva (TULSA) 6-2, 6-0
2. #16 Diana Nakic (BU) def. #64 Samantha Vickers (TULSA) 6-4, 6-1
3. #56 Sona Novakova (BU) vs. Ewa Szatkowska (TULSA) 4-6, 6-2, 1-2, unfinished
4. Ema Burgic (BU) vs. Isaura Enrique (TULSA) 6-4, 2-3, unfinished
5. Jordaan Sanford (BU) vs. Michelle Farley (TULSA) 6-4, 3-6, 0-0, unfinished
6. Megan Horter (BU) def. Bonny Davidson (TULSA) 6-2, 6-1

Doubles competition
1. #78 Nina Secerbegovic/Megan Horter (BU) def. #68 Ewa Szatkowska/Anastasia Erofeeva (TULSA) 8-2
2. Diana Nakic/Ema Burgic (BU) vs. Samantha Vickers/Bonny Davidson (TULSA) 4-5, unfinished
3. Sona Novakova/Nicole Kosakowski (BU) def. Michelle Farley/Maria Sant’Anna (TULSA) 8-6
Match Notes:
Tulsa 23-4; National ranking #25
Baylor 25-7; National ranking #12
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (1,6,2)

No. 11 Texas outlasts No. 17 Nebraska, 4-2, advances to NCAA round of 16

Longhorns win a tightly-contested doubles point and add three singles wins to secure their third NCAA round-of-16 appearance in the last five seasons.

AUSTIN – Eleventh-seeded Texas (19-7) took the doubles point and added singles wins from Aeriel Ellis, Lina Padegimaite (pah-day-gee-MY-tay) and Cierra Gaytan-Leach to score a 4-2 win over No. 17 Nebraska (24-4) Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Championship.

The Longhorns punch their ticket to the NCAA Championship’s round of 16 in Athens, Ga., for the third time in the last five seasons (2008, 2010, 2012). Texas most recently reached the round of 16 in 2010, when the round of 16 and beyond also were held in Athens. Texas will meet the winner of Saturday’s Georgia-Clemson match on Thursday, May 17 in the round of 16 at Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex.

Nebraska opened the match by claiming the match at first doubles. The Huskers’ Madeleine Geibert and Stefanie Weinstein teamed up to produce an 8-5 win over UT’s Padegimaite and Noel Scott. Texas, however, responded with wins at the second and third positions to nail down the doubles point.

UT’s Krista Damico and Gaytan-Leach held an 8-7 lead on NU’s Patricia Veresova and Mary Weatherholt at second doubles, but the Huskers broke the Horns in the next game to force a tiebreaker. Damico and Gaytan-Leach took control early on in the tiebreaker and posted a 7-2 win to take the match.

At third doubles, NU’s Izabella Zgierska and Janine Weinreich broke for a 7-6 lead, but UT’s Elizabeth Begley and Ellis saved two match points on Nebraska’s serve before breaking the Huskers to even the match at seven games-all. Ellis held serve in the next game, and Texas broke Nebraska at-love in the following game to win the match, 9-7 and claim the doubles point.

Ellis maintained her momentum in singles play and staked Texas to a 2-0 lead behind a convincing win at first singles. The All-American took the first set off of Nebraska’s Weatherholt, 6-2, and after being broken in the first game of set two, Ellis promptly took the next six games to win the set, 6-1.

Nebraska sliced the Texas lead to 2-1 behind a 6-3, 6-4 win from Veresova over UT’s Damico at second singles. The Cornhuskers’ Weinstein evened the match at two apiece with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Scott at fourth singles.

Texas’ Padegimaite gave the Horns the lead for good at third singles, where she registered her fifteenth consecutive win, a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Nebraska’s Geibert. UT’s Gaytan-Leach dropped the first set against NU’s Weinreich at fifth singles before rallying for a 6-3 second-set win.

Gaytan-Leach opened the third set by breaking Weinreich’s serve, but Weinreich broke and held serve for a 2-1 lead. Gaytan-Leach returned the favor, holding serve and breaking Weinreich for a 3-2 lead. Gaytan-Leach later held serve for a 5-3 lead, and with match point against her, Weinreich double-faulted her serve to give the third-set win to Gaytan-Leach, 6-3.

The remaining match at sixth singles, with UT’s Begley and Nebraska’s Zgierska locked at two-all in the third set, was suspended given that Texas had clinched the victory.

NCAA Championship – Second Round (Round of 32)
No. 11 Texas 4, No. 17 Nebraska 2
Penick-Allison Tennis Center – Austin, Texas
Doubles – Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3
1 Madeleine Geibert/Stefanie Weinstein (NU) def. Lina Padegimaite/Noel Scott (Texas) – 8-5
2 Krista Damico/Cierra Gaytan-Leach (Texas) def. Patricia Veresova/Mary Weatherholt (NU) – 9-8 (2)
3 Elizabeth Begley/Aeriel Ellis (Texas) def. Izabella Zgierska/Janine Weinreich (Nebraska) – 9-7

Singles – Order of Finish: 1, 2, 4, 3, 5
1 #40 Aeriel Ellis (Texas) def. #47 Mary Weatherholt (Nebraska) – 6-2, 6-1
2 #100 Patricia Veresova (Nebraska) def. #68 Krista Damico (Texas) – 6-3, 6-4
3 Lina Padegimaite (Texas) def. Madeleine Geibert (Nebraska) – 6-3, 6-2
4 Stefanie Weinstein (Nebraska) def. Noel Scott (Texas) – 6-2, 6-3
5 Cierra Gaytan-Leach (Texas) def. #109 Janine Weinreich (Nebraska) – 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
6 Elizabeth Begley (Texas) vs. Izabella Zgierska (Nebraska) – 6-1, 5-7, 2-2, susp.

POST-MATCH COMMENTS
Texas sophomore Cierra Gaytan-Leach
On the lengthy match: It’s a lot to manage. Even when you mess up, you have to stay positive. Long matches with doubles can be tough. You really have to stay together as a team.

On whether she knew that winning her match would clinch the Longhorn victory: No, I actually thought we had to win my match and Elizabeth Begley’s match. So, I had no idea. I was just trying to fight and win every point.

On how it feels when the crowd is surrounding her court: I love the crowd. So when they kept cheering me on, I worked off them. As they got louder, I got more motivated. It really helped.

On Texas winning on its home courts in Austin: It’s awesome. All of our parents are here, and our friends, too. It’s really great to do it in front of our family and friends.

Texas junior Aeriel Ellis
On her doubles victory: It was a grind. But we were able to pull it together when it mattered. We missed a couple in the beginning of the match that we probably shouldn’t have missed, especially during important points. But we found a way in the last couple of games. I think when we were down 7-6 and found a way to win three games in a row just by going after our shots. That’s what makes us a good team.

On the lengthy doubles match: It’s never fun, but at the same time to come out on top it gives us a boost. Especially going into singles, it’s like we’ve got something done, so now let’s do it again.

On her dominant singles victory: Everything was going right. I wasn’t making a lot of unforced errors. I was anticipating her ball really well and hitting great shots. I really couldn’t complain about the way I played today.

On feeding off the crowd’s energy: The crowd was amazing. I think they were constantly cheering for me and my teammates around me. I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t have them there. I’m really happy they were there.

Texas head coach Patty Fendick-McCain
On the doubles matches: We really aim to please around here and try to make it exciting for the fans. But it was a hard-fought match. We let things slip away a little bit in those doubles matches, so we did get a little bit of drama towards the end there. I just felt our players were the better team out there and ultimately they pulled it together. They did well.

On the energy of the crowd and playing at home: I think anytime you have your family, your friends, and you fans out there, it’s great. It gives you so much more energy. It’s been a long season. It’s been a hard-fought season. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs. To be honest, I thought we were a little bit flat out there today. They were tired and you could see it. But, having the fans out there yelling and screaming for them and really giving them that support, I think that’s really what perked them right back up.

On how a match as long as this one affects the players: It takes its toll. An hour-and-a-half long doubles session is as long as you’re going to ever see. And just physically, it was hot out here today. I thought that worked in our favor a little bit. I think the Nebraska girls felt the heat a little bit more than we did since we’re used to it. It does take its toll, but we’re prepared for that. We’ve been battling all year long and doing great. I’m super proud of the girls, they’ve done a great job.

On Aeriel Ellis’ performance: Oh, that was the best I have seen her play since November. She was just ‘en fuego’. She’s been really close to turning it over. Everything she touched was gold today. It was just great.

On Cierra Gaytan-Leach clinching another big win for Texas: The ‘big cheese’! The ‘big cheese’ is getting it done time-and-time again. She’s doing a really good job. She’s worked really hard, and it’s great to see her coming through. She’s got a lot of energy and passion out there on the court. She just kind of sweeps everybody up with her. It’s great.

On the team fighting for the win: It’s a team effort. There’s a point on the line at every spot. And the girls know that going into it. If one player maybe doesn’t have their best day, you’ve got other personnel out there who are ready to pick up the slack.

On the opening rounds of NCAA Championships: It was really fun. It was exciting. It was great to finally host. This was the first time we’ve gotten to host since I have been the coach. It’s great to be on your home courts.