The Texas A&M women’s tennis team improved to 6-0 and is off to its best start since winning the first six matches of the 2001 season after defeating Liberty, 4-1, and Stephen F. Austin, 6-0, in a doubleheader today at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
The coaches had agreed to start with singles and play the doubles matches only if necessary. The first match of the doubleheader actually got underway Saturday, but in A&M’s first-ever meeting against Liberty, only two games had been completed on the six singles courts when rain began to fall and the decision was made to postpone the doubleheader until Sunday.
Wet courts caused an approximate one hour, 30 minute delay today before the matches resumed, but A&M senior Macarena Olivares wasted no time in giving the Aggies a 1-0 lead and won her team-leading eighth consecutive match with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Anna Dollar at the No. 2 line. Aggie freshman Riley McQuaid led her entire match in a 6-1, 6-2 win over Rebekah Anderson at No. 5 that gave A&M a 2-0 lead.
Lara Soares put the Flames on the scoreboard and within 2-1 with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Aggie freshman Dorthea Faa-Hviding at the No. 4 line.
A&M senior Eva Paalma won two consecutive games against Evangeline Crist to close out a 6-4 first-set win the No. 3 line, but Crist got two service breaks and jumped out to a 3-0 lead to begin the second set. Crist continued to lead, 4-2, before Paalma, who entered the contest riding a six-match winning streak, reeled off four consecutive games to win, 6-4, and complete the straight-set victory to put the Aggies ahead, 3-1.
A&M senior Domenica Gonzalez also entered the day riding a six-match winning streak, but she was pushed to three sets for the first time in a dual match this season. Gonzalez jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the opening set against Maria Medina at the No. 1 line and went on to win, 6-3. Medina never trailed in the second set and had jumped out to a 4-1 lead. Gonzalez evened the set at 4-4 before Medina won back-to-back games to win the set, 6-4, and force a third set.
The deciding frame was on serve at 2-2 before Gonzalez won four consecutive games to win, 6-2, and clinch the victory for the Aggies.
A&M freshman Iulia Ivascu had dropped her first set, 7-5, to Grace Hashiguchi and had just started a second-set tiebreaker when Gonzalez secured the victory, and the match was stopped.
After a nearly three hour break, the Aggies returned to the courts to take on Stephen F. Austin, which was coming off a 4-0 loss to Liberty. The teams agreed to play singles first and play doubles only if necessary. It quickly became evident that there would be no need to play the doubles matches as Ivascu, McQuaid and Olivares raced to identical 6-1, 6-1 victories at the Nos. 6, 4 and 2 courts, respectively, with all three matches ending within three minutes of each other to give A&M a 3-0 lead.
Shortly thereafter, Paalma clinched the victory, defeating Darinka Tiboldi, 6-2, 6-3, at No. 3, and Gonzalez followed with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Gabi Guilarte at No. 1 to put A&M ahead, 5-0.
The shutout, however, appeared in jeopardy as the final match went down to a 10-point super tiebreaker. Faa-Hviding had won her first set, 6-2, at No. 5, but Armelle Cerdan came back from a 4-2 deficit to win the second set, 7-5, to force the third-set tiebreaker. Cerdan jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but Faa-Hviding tied the score at 4-4 and never trailed for the remainder of the match. With the score tied, 5-5, Faa-Hviding won the next four points to pull away. Cerdan fought off one match point before Faa-Hviding won, 10-6, to close out the Aggies’ 6-0 victory.
The Aggies conclude their seven-match homestand on Saturday, Feb. 10 as they play host to University of Louisiana. First serve is slated for noon at the Mitchell Tennis Center, and an A&M victory over the Rajin’ Cajuns would give the Aggies their best season start since winning the first seven matches of the 1998 season.
General admission seating for all regular-season matches is free this season.