The Texas A&M women’s tennis team fell behind early but battled back to get an important 4-2 Southeastern Conference victory over No. 33 Arkansas today at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center.
The Aggies, who were hosting their Legacy Reunion Match and had many of the program’s former players in attendance, improve to 12-4 overall and even their conference record at 3-3. Arkansas suffered its fourth consecutive loss and falls to 5-9 overall, including 1-4 in conference play.
The doubles point was closely contested and at one instance, the Nos. 2 and 3 lines were concurrently knotted at 5-5 while Arkansas held a 5-4 edge at No. 1.
Arkansas’ Ana Oparenovic and Tatum Rice, ranked No. 30 in the nation in doubles, eked out a 6-4 victory over A&M’s Eva Paalma and Domenica Gonzalez at the No. 1 line in a match that had six games go to 40-40. The Razorbacks then clinched the doubles point at No. 2, where Giulia Pairone and Mia Jurasic won back-to-back games to pull away for a 7-5 victory over A&M’s Tatiana Makarova and Iulia Ivascu. A&M’s Riley McQuaid and Dorthea Faa-Hviding held a 6-5 lead over Agne Cepelyte and Natsuho Arakawa at No. 3 when the doubles point was clinched and the match was stopped.
Undeterred, the Aggies began singles by winning the first set on five of six courts. McQuaid eventually evened the team score at 1-1, disposing of Rice, 6-3, 6-2, to improve to 7-0 at the No. 4 line. It was one of only two matches to be decided in straight sets.
Just under an hour later, Makarova gave the Aggies the 2-1 lead as she held off Arakawa, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 at No. 5. Soon thereafter, Oparenovic, No. 87 in the national singles rankings, tied the score once again as she came back after dropping the first set to top Macarena Olivares, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1, at No. 2.
Paalma gave the Aggies the lead for good, winning the first set, 7-6, against Jurasic after pulling away to win the tiebreaker, 8-6, and winning back-to-back games to close out a 6-4 second-set victory to put A&M ahead, 3-2.
Faa-Hviding clinched the victory for the Aggies. Playing the No. 6 line, the freshman won her first set, 6-3 against Cepelyte, but Cepelyte won the second set, 6-2, in a set that had five games go to deuce and be decided by a no-ad point. Cepelyte carried the momentum into the third set, winning the first three games before Faa-Hviding fought back to tie the final set at 4-4. Faa-Hviding then got a service break to take a 5-4 lead, but Cepelyte broke back to even the set, 5-5. Both players then held serve to force the match to be decided by a tiebreaker.
Cepelyte won the first two points of the tiebreaker, but Faa-Hviding countered by winning the next three points to take a 3-2 lead. Cepelyte regained the lead, 4-3, before Faa-Hviding reeled off four consecutive points to close out the 7-4 clutch victory and clinch the win for the Aggies.
Pairone, ranked No. 66, held a 7-5, 3-6, 5-3 lead over 111th-ranked Gonzalez at Court 1 when the match was determined and play was stopped.
A&M takes a short break from conference play but continues its six-match homestand with a midweek matinee tilt against Lamar. The Aggies and Cardinals will clash at the Mitchell Tennis Center on Wednesday at 2 p.m. before A&M returns to SEC play with a home match against 43rd-ranked LSU on Friday at 5 p.m.
General admission to all regular-season men’s and women’s home matches is free.