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Texas A&M Advances with 4-3 Victory over 24th-Ranked Kentucky

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. –Texas A&M freshman Iulia Ivascu won the last match standing to lift Texas A&M to a 4-3 victory over 24th-ranked Kentucky in the second round of the SEC Women’s Tennis Tournament today at Barksdale Tennis Stadium.

The Aggies, the No. 9 seed in the 14-team tournament, improve to 16-9 overall and advance to the quarterfinals to face SEC regular-season champion and No. 2-ranked Vanderbilt on Friday at 3 p.m. (2 p.m. CT). Kentucky, which had posted a 4-1 regular-season home victory over Texas A&M on April 7 in Lexington and was the No. 8 seed, falls to 14-10.

The teams split the first two doubles matches to be completed as Ivascu and freshman partner Riley McQuaid raced to a 6-1 victory over Diana Tkachenko and Brianna Tulloch at the No. 3 line. Kentucky’s Mami Adachi and Justina Mikulskyte had jumped out to a 5-0 lead over A&M’s Tatiana Makarova and Macarena Olivares at No. 2 but the Aggie duo made a late charge and got within 5-4 before the Wildcats won a no-ad point to win, 6-4.

The point came down to the No. 1 line, where A&M missed an opportunity to take the doubles point. The Aggies’ 59th-ranked Domenica Gonzalez and Eva Paalma had won a no-ad point to go up, 5-4, against Emily Fanning and Lesedi Jacobs. In the following game, the A&M pair was at triple match point, but Kentucky evened the game at 40-40 and then won the no-ad point to even the match, 5-5. Kentucky broke the Aggies’ serve to go up, 6-5, and then won a no-ad point to win the match, 7-5, to give the Wildcats the 1-0 lead.

McQuaid evened the team score at the start of singles, breaking away from a 3-3 tie in each set to defeat Tkachenko, 6-3, 6-3, at the No. 4 line.

Adachi put the Wildcats back on top, 2-1, after downing Paalma, 6-4, 6-4, at No. 3. In a matchup of ranked contestants, No. 76 Olivares evened the team score, 2-2, with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over 118th-ranked Mikulskyte at No. 2. It was the seventh win—including the fourth ranked win—in the last eight decisions for Olivares, who improved to 28-10 overall.

Gonzalez gave A&M its first lead, 3-2, getting a service break to cap each set in a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Fanning at the No. 1 line. Jacobs tied the score for the final time with a come-from-behind 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Makarova at No. 5.

Ivascu and Tulloch were knotted at 5-5 in the second set at the No. 6 line as Jacobs tied the team score. Ivascu had won the first set, 7-5, and was serving for the match with a 6-5 lead in the second set. Tulloch, however, broke Ivascu to force a tiebreaker in which neither player built more than a two-point lead. Ivascu fought off four set points and was at match point, 10-9, after Tulloch was overruled and received a point penalty. Tulloch, however, scored the next two points to regain the lead, 11-10. Ivascu fought off another set point to tie the score, 11-11, before Tulloch won the next two points to win the set and force a third set.

Both players struggled with their serve in the final set, and other than the first two games, neither side was able to hold serve until Ivascu held to go up, 6-5. The Romanian built a 40-15 lead in the ensuing game, and Tulloch double-faulted at match point to give the win to Ivascu.

Texas A&M, which was facing Kentucky for the first time in an SEC Tournament match, improves to 5-5 all-time in the tournament and advances to the quarterfinals for the fifth time in six years in the league. The Aggies, who also will be facing the Commodores for the first time in the postseason event, fell to Vanderbilt, 4-0, in Nashville, when the teams met on April 5.

The winner of the Texas A&M-Vanderbilt match advances to face the winner between No. 4 seed Georgia and No. 5 seed Ole Miss in the semifinals at 2 p.m. (1 p.m. CT) on Saturday.

Texas A&M postmatch quotes:

Texas A&M Head Coach Mark Weaver

On today’s match…
“Incredible job by the ladies today. Just nothing but perseverance got us that win today, just an incredible team win. We had a tough go in the doubles. We played very well. We were up, 5-4, 40-love at No. 1, and we’ve played so well at No. 1 lately and we played very well today but just couldn’t quite close the door. It was incredible toughness by the girls in the singles. We got off to a great start. We won five first sets, and nothing less than a team win, but Iulia [Ivascu] definitely gets the heroics today. She hasn’t been in that situation in her whole young career. It was an incredible job of staying in the moment and keeping her composure. If any team deserved a tough win today, we did. We’ve lost a few lately that have come down to the wire. It just shows what resilience will do. It was an incredible job by the ladies today. I couldn’t be happier and more proud of them.”

On facing Vanderbilt in quarterfinals…
“Vanderbilt has had a great year. They are the conference champions. They have been ranked 1, 2 and 3 all year, and getting a great win today with NCAA implications on the line, tomorrow we can kind of just take our shots, take some swings at the ball. We didn’t really play that great when we played Vanderbilt a few weeks back, so we are hoping to raise our level. We’ve got one match under our belt [at the SEC Tournament]. Vanderbilt hasn’t played a match yet, so that always plays into things. Hopefully we can come out swinging in the doubles, and let’s roll the dice and see what happens.”

Tennis Match Results
Texas A&M vs Kentucky
Apr 19, 2018 at Knoxville, Tenn.
(Barksdale Stadium)

#36 Texas A&M 4, #24 Kentucky 3

Singles competition
1. Domenica Gonzalez (A&M) def. Emily Fanning (UK) 6-4, 6-4
2. #76 Macarena Olivares (A&M) def. #118 Justina Mikulskyte (UK) 6-3, 6-4
3. Mami Adachi (UK) def. Eva Paalma (A&M) 6-4, 6-4
4. Riley McQuaid (A&M) def. Diana Tkachenko (UK) 6-3, 6-3
5. Lesedi Jacobs (UK) def. Tatiana Makarova (A&M) 2-6, 6-2, 6-3
6. Iulia Ivascu (A&M) def. Brianna Tulloch (UK) 7-5, 6-7 (11-13), 7-5

Doubles competition
1. Emily Fanning/Lesedi Jacobs (UK) def. #59 Eva Paalma/Domenica Gonzalez (A&M) 7-5
2. Mami Adachi/Justina Mikulskyte (UK) def. Tatiana Makarova/Macarena Olivares (A&M) 6-4
3. Riley McQuaid/Iulia Ivascu (A&M) def. Diana Tkachenko/Brianna Tulloch (UK) 6-1

Match Notes:
Texas A&M 16-9; National ranking #36
Kentucky 14-10; National ranking #24
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (4,3,2,1,5,6)

Complete SEC Tournament Schedule/Results (all times are Eastern): 

Wednesday, April 18
Match 1: #11 Arkansas def. #14 Missouri, 4-1
Match 2: #12 Tennessee def. #13 Alabama, 4-1

Thursday, April 19
Match 3: #10 LSU def. #7 Mississippi State, 4-3
Match 4: #11 Arkansas def. #6 Auburn, 4-2
Match 5: #9 Texas A&M def. #8 Kentucky, 4-3
Match 6: #5 Ole Miss def. #12 Tennessee, 4-2

Friday, April 20
QUARTERFINALS
Match 7: #10 LSU vs. #2 Florida, 9 a.m.
Match 8: #11 Arkansas vs. #3 South Carolina, noon
Match 9: #9 Texas A&M vs. #1 Vanderbilt, 3 p.m.
Match 10: #5 Ole Miss vs. #4 Georgia, 6 p.m.

Saturday, April 21
SEMIFINALS
Match 11: Winner of Match 7 vs Winner of Match 8, 10 a.m.
Match 12: Winner of Match 9 vs Winner of Match 10, 2 p.m.

Sunday, April 22
CHAMPIONSHIP
Championship: Winner of Match 11 vs Winner of match 12, 2:30 p.m. (SEC Network)

Texas A&M SEC Tennis Tournament History

Texas A&M All-Time Tournament Seeds:
Seed    Total   Year
No. 2   1          2013
No. 3   1          2015
No. 5   1          2014
No. 6   1          2016
No. 9   2          2017, 2018

Texas A&M All-Time Tournament Finishes:
Semifinals (2)              2013, 2014
Quarterfinals (2)         2015, 2016
Second Round                        2017

Texas A&M All-Time SEC Tournament Results:

2013 SEC Tournament
Starkville, Mississippi
QF        W        Auburn (19)    4-0       4/19/13
SF        L          Florida (2)       1-4       4/20/13

2014 SEC Tournament
Columbia, Missouri
2R        W        Missouri          4-0       4/17/14
QF        W        Florida (4)       4-3       4/18/14
SF        L          Alabama (3)    2-4       4/19/14

2015 SEC Tournament
Columbia, South Carolina
QF        L          LSU (24)           3-4       4/17/15

2016 SEC Tournament
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
2R        W        Alabama (61)  4-0       4/21/16
QF        L          Georgia (4)      1-4       4/22/16

2017 SEC Tournament
Nashville, Tennessee
2R        L          LSU (21)           3-4       4/20/17

2018 SEC Tournament
Knoxville, Tennessee
2R        W        Kentucky (24)  4-3       4/19/18
QF                    vs. Vanderbilt (2)

Texas A&M All-Time Tournament Series Records: 
Auburn           1-0
Missouri          1-0
Alabama         1-1
Florida            1-1
Georgia           0-1
Kentucky         1-0
LSU                  0-2
Vanderbilt      0-0
Total               5-5

Visit 12thMan.com for more information on Texas A&M women’s tennis. Aggie fans also can keep up to date with the A&M women’s tennis team by following @AggieWTEN on Twitter and Instagram, as well as on Facebook at Facebook.com/AggieWTEN.

Story courtesy of Texas A&M Athletics

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Posted by on Apr 20 2018. Filed under Sports.
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