Texas A&M Women’s Tennis Wins First SEC Women’s Tennis Tournament Title

(Source: Texas A&M Athletics)

Story by Nick Whitley, Texas A&M Athletics Communications

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – For the first time since joining the nation’s premier conference in the 2012-13 academic year, the Texas A&M women’s tennis team secured the Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship following a 4-0 sweep of the defending league champion Georgia Bulldogs Sunday evening from Linder Stadium at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex. Freshman Mary Stoiana secured the deciding point on court three over Morgan Coppoc, driving the sixth-ranked Aggies to their second sweep over No. 14 Georgia this season. Graduate Tatiana Makarova was named the Tournament Most Valuable Player, while both Makarova and senior Jayci Goldsmith represented the Aggies on the 2022 SEC All-Tournament Team.

In yet another round of program-shaping moments, the 2022 rendition of the Maroon & White became the first team in program history to reach 30 wins in a single season. Texas A&M currently boasts a 30-1 overall mark and has gone unbeaten in each of the last 21 matches. The Aggies went 18-0 at home this season, 8-0 in true road matches and improved to 4-1 in neutral site play following the school’s first SEC Tournament title Sunday evening. Each of the aforementioned records stands as the highest mark in program history in each category. Following their defeat, Georgia drops to 17-6 overall and finished the 2022 SEC Women’s Tennis Championships with a 2-1 mark.

After joining the SEC in the 2013 dual match campaign, A&M made its second all-time appearance in the league’s championship match on Sunday against the Bulldogs. The team’s only prior appearance came last year, when the 2021 Aggies fell to Georgia by a 4-0 margin at the Alabama Tennis Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Exactly one year later, Texas A&M returned the favor and exacted revenge in one of the most dominant performances in program history before a national audience. The Aggies secured their first conference tournament championship since 2004, when A&M defeated Nebraska, Oklahoma and rival-Texas en route to the Big 12 Tournament title. Sunday’s win over Georgia produced the sixth conference championship in program history.

Following their win over the Bulldogs on Sunday, the Aggie women’s tennis team secured the first perfect season against SEC member institutions in program history. The Maroon & White defeated all comers during the regular season in conference play, going 13-0 for the first time in program history, irrespective of A&M’s conference affiliation. The Aggies followed their regular season success up with a trio of wins against the league’s perennial powerhouse programs, dismantling Vanderbilt and stunning Florida just before sweeping past the conference’s defending champion. All three opponents that the Aggies played in the 2022 SEC Tournament have won at least one national title since the Maroon & White joined the conference.

The championship match began per usual in doubles play, where the Aggies fended off Georgia’s advances to take an early 1-0 edge through the early going. No. 47 Carson Branstine and Stoiana were first off the courts, claiming a 6-3 decision over Mell Reasco and Meg Kowalski on court two. Despite falling behind by a significant margin early in their match, third-ranked Goldsmith and Makarova seized the spotlight and turned in a hard-fought 6-4 scorecard over 14th-ranked Coppoc and Ania Hertel. The victory in the top-line matchup granted A&M the lead, while Goldsmith and Makarova teamed up for their 91st doubles victory as a tandem, the most wins by any duo in Aggie history. Renee McBryde and Gianna Pielet held a 6-5 lead over Mai Nirundorn and Dasha Vidmanova, but the match was abandoned once the doubles point was clinched.

Attention then turned to singles play, where the Aggies asserted their will and took commanding first-set leads on five-of-six courts. Driven by the early momentum, Goldsmith recorded one of the most assertive victories of her collegiate career on court four. Despite defeating her Tennessee opponent by a 6-0, 6-0 margin the previous evening, No. 120 Kowalski stood by and watched as Goldsmith locked in a powerful 6-2, 6-1 victory to bring the Maroon & White within two points of the title. Meanwhile, No. 20 Makarova was hard at work on the adjacent court, as she faced off against rising Bulldog star and 84th-ranked Vidmanova in the No. 2 singles battle. Makarova blitzed by her opponent in straight sets for the third time in as many days, recording a 6-2, 6-3 result to put the Aggies ahead by an insurmountable 3-0 margin.

As she had on nine prior occasions in the historic 2022 dual match campaign, No. 70 Stoiana stood watch as all the pressure to secure the team victory was trained on her No. 3 singles matchup against Coppoc. After racing through her first set in dominant 6-2 fashion, Stoiana stepped up to the service line leading the second stanza by a 5-2 margin. Leading what proved to be her final game of tournament play 40-30, Stoiana lined up to serve on the ad-side of the court. The Southbury, Connecticut, native tossed the ball, made her first serve, and watched closely as Coppoc’s return sailed just behind the baseline of the doubles alley. Stoiana’s teammates witnessed her line call and bull rushed the freshman, as her first serve secured Texas A&M’s first SEC Tournament crown.

At the conclusion of the match, the Southeastern Conference announced that Makarova and Goldsmith were featured as members of the SEC All-Tournament Team following their performances this week. Makarova was the clinch victor in A&M’s 4-3 semifinal win over host-Florida and went undefeated in both singles and doubles throughout the tournament. Goldsmith did likewise, joining Makarova in guiding the Aggies to their first SEC Tournament title with undefeated performances all week in both singles and doubles play. In recognition of her superlative performances, Makarova was additionally crowned as the SEC Women’s Tennis Tournament Most Valuable Player.

UP NEXT
The Southeastern Conference Regular Season and Tournament Champion Texas A&M women’s tennis team awaits the announcement of the 2022 NCAA Women’s Tennis Tournament bracket, set for release by the governing body of collegiate athletics on Tuesday, May 2. The Aggies opening matchup, first serve date and time will all be released to the public when that information becomes available.

2022 SEC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Alicia Dudeney, Florida
Jayci Goldsmith, Texas A&M
Ania Hertel, Georgia
Tatiana Makarova, Texas A&M – Tournament MVP
Mell Reasco, Georgia
Elza Tomase, Tennessee

POSTMATCH QUOTES
TEXAS A&M QUOTES

Head Coach Mark Weaver
On winning the program’s first SEC Tournament Championship…
“This is just an amazing feeling. We went into this tournament believing that we were going to win, but it did not come easy. We have had some challenges this week, just as teams always do, and we found a way to get the job done. We had a tough semifinal match against Florida yesterday and then I feel like today we got our feet under us and took it to Georgia. This is an amazing feeling and it is well deserved by our team that has worked so hard and brings high level of work ethic every single day. These titles do not come easy, you do not win them just from talent. The hard work is the ultimate reason why we have been so successful this season.

On Tatiana Makarova being named SEC Tournament MVP…
“I think Tatianna [Makarova] is the epitome of what our tennis program stands for. Working hard and getting better. She came in her freshman year and struggled going 5-10 at four singles, but every year she has gotten better and matured physically and mentally. She has worked so hard building herself up and becoming the ultimate athlete. She continues to do a great job growing up and always takes care of her business off the court. I cannot believe she has lost one dual match in two years. Not much more needs to be said about how impressive she has been.”

On the support from athletics administration…
“It is so awesome to have Ross Bjork and Kristen Brown and many others fly in today to watch us and be a part of our celebration. It just means so much to me. I have been an Aggie for more than half my life, our entire coaching staff are Aggies and played here. I told the team, there are millions of Aggies all around the world that are excited and happy for the Texas A&M women’s tennis team to bring another championship to Aggieland.”

On what is next for this team…
“Our goal all year is to win the national title and it is great to see the girl’s happiness and celebration today, but our ultimate goal this year is to win the national title. We know that is something that is attainable. We will take a few days off, but we are going to get back to work and they are all nodding their heads. This was what they want.”

Graduate Tatiana Makarova
On the feeling of winning the SEC Tournament…
“It feels unreal. We knew that we have the potential to win, but we knew that we needed everyone in the lineup today. We had to compete and focus on every point. When the moment happened, it fealt great to know that I contributed to every win this weekend. It was such an amazing feeling to be a part of bringing the team to victory. I am glad to be able to put my point on the scoreboard for the team.”

On being named tournament MVP…
“I honestly did not know that was going to happen. When they said they were going to announce the most valuable player and I heard my name, I was so excited and I could not believe that was happening. I did not think I did anything special. I just was showing up every single match and putting forth effort. Just like every single match I have played play throughout the season I tried to focus on the next point.”

Freshman Mary Stoiana
On clinching the SEC Tournament Championship
“There are no words to describe it. It feels amazing that I could clinch the championship, because it really shows that the whole team’s hard work and everyone’s support is paying off.”

On bouncing back from a tough match in the semifinals…
I know that I have a lot of confidence and that I put in the work every day. I always tell myself, why shouldn’t I be successful? I trust the process and I work really hard. I have such a great program behind me so I know I can always pull through despite any hardships that happen on the court.”

TENNIS MATCH RESULTS
#6 Texas A&M 4, #14 Georgia 0
SEC Women’s Tennis Championships – Championship Match
Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex – Gainesville, Florida

SINGLES
1. #15 Carson Branstine (TAMU) vs. #24 Mell Reasco (UGA) 1-6, 7-5, unfinished
2. #20 Tatiana Makarova (TAMU) def. #84 Dasha Vidmanova (UGA) 6-2, 6-3
3. 70 Mary Stoiana (TAMU) def. Morgan Coppoc (UGA) 6-2, 6-2
4. Jayci Goldsmith (TAMU) def. #120 Meg Kowalski (UGA) 6-2, 6-1
5. Gianna Pielet (TAMU) vs. Ania Hertel (UGA) 6-4, 4-6, unfinished
6. Jeanette Mireles (TAMU) vs. Mai Nirundorn (UGA) 6-2, 3-6, unfinished

DOUBLES
1. #3 Jayci Goldsmith / Tatiana Makarova (TAMU) def. #14 Morgan Coppoc / Ania Hertel (UGA) 6-4
2. 47 Carson Branstine / Mary Stoiana (TAMU) def. Mell Reasco / Meg Kowalski (UGA) 6-3
3. Renee McBryde / Gianna Pielet (TAMU) vs. Mai Nirundorn / Dasha Vidmanova (UGA) 6-5, unfinished

Order of Finish: Doubles (2,1); Singles (4,2,3*)