Gamecocks Suffer 5-2 Loss at No. 6 Texas A&M
<strong><center>Katerina Popova</center></strong>

 
Katerina Popova

March 1, 2013


COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The No. 43 South Carolina women's tennis team suffered a 5-2 loss at No. 6 Texas A&M on Friday in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams and the first SEC match in school history for the Aggies. South Carolina dipped to 7-4 on the season while Texas A&M improved to 7-1.

The Gamecocks started strong, claiming the doubles point from the Aggies with wins on courts two and three. South Carolina's No. 3 squad of Elixane Lechemia and Ximena Siles Luna dominated the sister duo of Ines and Paula Deheza by an 8-3 count to finish first. Josefin Andersson and Katerina Popova then posted an 8-5 triumph over Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Wen Sun on court two to secure the point. Andersson and Popova improved to 9-1 this spring with the win.

South Carolina nearly posted an upset on court one with the Gamecocks' Jaklin Alawi and Dominika Kanakova taking on No. 11-ranked Stefania Hristov and Cristina Stancu. The Gamecocks held a 6-4 lead on the Aggies, but Hristov and Stancu bounced back to win two straight games, and the match eventually went to a tiebreaker. In the breaker, Alawi and Kanakova won the first four rallies and held a 6-3 advantage when play stopped because of Andersson and Popova clinching the point.

In singles, the Aggies proved too tough for the Gamecocks. No. 6 Sanchez-Quintanar picked up a 6-1, 6-2 decision over No. 69 Alawi on court one to even the score and Ines Deheza put Texas A&M ahead for good when she downed Andersson 6-1, 6-3 at No. 5 singles. Sun then beat Kanakova 6-3, 6-2 at No. 4 singles and Hristov provided the clinching point on court six with a 6-4, 6-3 win against Siles Luna.

With the match already in hand, two matches remained. No. 108 Popova took a 7-6 (7-4) win over No. 83 Stancu for the first set at No. 2 singles but then lost the second 6-3. The two played a super tiebreaker for the third set and Popova prevailed 12-10 to improve to 8-1 this spring, the top record for the Gamecocks in duals this spring. It also marked Popova's first win against a ranked opponent in 2013.

The evening ended with the Aggies winning the No. 3 match between No. 67 Nazari Urbina and Lechemia. Urbina won the first set 6-2 and then faltered by a 6-1 count in the second. She recovered with a convincing 6-1 win to take the third set and handed Lechemia her first collegiate loss since becoming eligible for the Gamecocks last week.

South Carolina will continue SEC play at No. 71 Missouri on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET. The Gamecocks defeated Mizzou earlier this year by a 4-3 score in Ann Arbor, Mich., at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend.

SINGLES COMPETITION

  POS SOUTH CAROLINA TEXAS A&M WINNER SCORE FINISH
1 #69 Jaklin Alawi #6 Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar Texas A&M 6-1, 6-2 1
2 #108 Katerina Popova #83 Cristina Stancu South Carolina 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, (12-10) 5
3 Elixane Lechemia #67 Nazari Urbina Texas A&M 6-2, 1-6, 6-1 6
4 Dominika Kanakova Wen Sun Texas A&M 6-3, 6-2 3
5 Josefin Andersson Ines Deheza Texas A&M 6-1, 6-3 2
6 Ximena Siles Luna Stefania Hristov Texas A&M 6-4, 6-3 4

DOUBLES COMPETITION

  POS SOUTH CAROLINA TEXAS A&M WINNER SCORE FINISH
1 Alawi/Kanakova #11 Hristov/Stancu Unfinished SC led 8-8 (6-3)  
2 Popova/Andersson Sanchez-Quintanar/Sun South Carolina 8-5 2
3 Lechemia/Siles Luna Deheza/Deheza South Carolina 8-3 1