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Aggies begin final road swing at No. 2 Vanderbilt

The Texas A&M women’s tennis team begins its final road stretch of the regular season on Thursday as the Aggies take on at No. 2 Vanderbilt in Nashville. First serve against the Commodores is at 4 p.m. at the Currey Tennis Center, and live video and scoring of the match will be available at http://www.vucommodores.com/sports/w-tennis/spec-rel/live-video.html.

“Vanderbilt is obviously having a great year being the No. 2 team in the nation this week and having been ranked around that range for most of the season,” A&M head coach Mark Weaver said. “We will definitely need to play at a very high level and come out clicking on all cylinders.”

The Aggies enter the contest having won five of their last six matches to improve to 15-5 overall. They are 5-4 in Southeastern Conference matches and are in sixth place in the league standings. Most recently, A&M suffered a 4-2 setback against No.10 Ole Miss on Sunday to close out the Aggies’ home schedule.

Vanderbilt is 15-3 overall and in third place in the SEC with an 8-1 record. The Commodores, whose only conference loss was March 15 at Mississippi State—a team A&M defeated on Friday—extended their win streak to four with a 4-1 victory against 20th-ranked Kentucky on Saturday.

Individually, A&M is led by reigning SEC Player of the Week Macarena Olivares, who is a career-high No. 77 in the ITA singles rankings, released on Tuesday. The senior from Santiago, Chile, is coming off the third ranked victory of her two-year career, having defeated 90th-ranked Sabina Machalova of then-No. 10 Ole Miss in the Aggies’ most recent outing. With the win, Olivares extended her singles win streak to a team-leading four matches, including two wins against ranked opponents. She also improved her overall singles record to a team-leading 25-9 and her dual record to a team-best 15-4. In addition, Olivares moved into the team lead for SEC wins, improving to 5-3, all at the No. 2 line.

A&M senior Domenica Gonzalez is No. 125 in singles with a 14-2 dual match record, all at the No. 1 line. She and partner Eva Paalma catapulted into the doubles rankings this week and are No. 52 following a season-best 6-4 victory over then-No. 7 Arianne Hartono and Alexa Bortles of Ole Miss on Sunday.

Vanderbilt boasts four nationally ranked singles players, including No. 3 Fernanda Contreras, who is riding a five-match winning streak and is 13-3 in dual matches, including 7-1 in SEC matches only. Astra Sharma, an All-American in both singles and doubles last year, has won seven consecutive matches and is 11-1 in dual matches, including 5-0 in SEC matches, all at the No. 1 line. Christina Rosca is No. 40, and Amanda Meyer is No. 118.

The Commodores also have three ranked doubles teams, although the unranked duo of Rosca and Meyer leads Vanderbilt with a 10-1 record in dual matches, including 5-1 in SEC matches. The pair is undefeated at the No. 3 line with a 9-0 record.

Vanderbilt owns a 9-3 lead in the all-time series against the Aggies, including a 5-1 record in matches played in Nashville. The Commodores have won each of the last two meetings, including a most recent 4-2 win in College Station last year. A&M’s last win against the Commodores was April 10, 2015, as then-Aggie sophomore Rachel Pierson won a third-set tiebreaker in the last match standing to close out a thrilling 4-3 home victory for A&M. The Aggies’ most recent win in Nashville was 2013, as A&M upended the 11th-ranked Commodores, 4-3, in the first meeting as SEC foes.

The Aggies continue their road swing at No. 28 Kentucky on Saturday and then close out the regular season with a pair of road matches at No. 17 Auburn on April 13 and at Alabama on April 15. The SEC Tournament is April 18-22 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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