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    SEC Women's Tennis Tournament: Day Three

    Women's Tennis Championship Central

    Georgia Defeats Ole Miss to Advance to Semifinals

    STARKVILLE, Miss.—The top-seeded Georgia women’s tennis team beat ninth-seeded Ole Miss 4-0 to advance to the semifinals of the 2013 SEC Women’s Tennis Tournament Friday morning at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre in Starkville, Miss.
    Georgia (20-2) will play the winner of Alabama and Tennessee at 11 a.m. ET Saturday. It will be the sixth semifinal appearance for Georgia in the last seven years.
    Georgia got off to a quick start after winning the doubles point. Georgia’s No. 62 tandem of Maho Kowase and Lauren Herring quickly beat the Rebels’ No. 40 duo of Caroline Rohde-Moe and Marija Milutinovic, 8-1. Later, the Bulldogs’ newly formed pair of Ayaka Okuno and Lilly Kimbell beat Ole Miss’ Allie Robbins and Julia Jones, 8-2. It’s the 21st doubles point that Georgia has won this year.
    Freshman Okuno quickly gave Georgia a 2-0 lead after beating Ole Miss’ Milutinovic, 6-3, 6-0. Okuno improves to 3-0 in singles, after making her Georgia debut two weeks ago. Later, Herring, the sixth-ranked player in the country, gave Georgia a 6-2, 6-1 win when she upended No. 44 Rohde-Moe. She improves to 34-5 on the year. Georgia clinched the match when No. 89 Silvia Garcia quickly gave Georgia a 2-0 lead with a 6-2, 6-4 lead over Erin Stephens. The Bulldog freshman has now won eight matches in a row and has a 21-2 record. It was the fourth match that Garcia has clinched this year.
    Georgia improves to 35-8 all-time versus Ole Miss, including 7-2 in the SEC Tournament. This marks the sixth time in seven years that Georgia has reached the semifinals of the conference tournament.

    Alabama Advances at SEC Championship with 4-3 win over Tennessee

    OXFORD, Mississippi – The 12th-ranked and No. 4 seed Texas A&M men’s tennis team knocked off 36th-ranked and No. 12 seed Alabama, 4-1, in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center on Friday afternoon in Oxford. The Aggies advance to the semifinals to face top-seeded and second-ranked Georgia or No. 8 seed Kentucky. First serve against either the Bulldogs or Wildcats is slated for 2 p.m. on Saturday.
    “Alabama has obviously been on a roll,” Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton said. “They play with a lot of confidence, as you could see in the doubles. I thought the difference of the match came in singles. We were able to win quite a few of the first sets and really stole the momentum away from them. This is a great team win for us.”
    For the second time this season, Texas A&M dropped the doubles point to the Crimson Tide. Jeremy Efferding and Jordan Szabo fell to Stuart Kenyon and Philippe Tsangarides, 8-5, at the No. 3 line to give Alabama the first doubles victory. Seconds later, the 27th-ranked pair of Harry Adams and Shane Vinsant was upset by the 34th-ranked duo of Becker O’Shaughnessey and Daniil Proskura, 8-6, at the No. 2 line to give the Crimson Tide an early 1-0 edge.
    The Aggies showed no panic despite falling behind early. Texas A&M won four-of-six first sets in singles to seize the momentum from the Crimson Tide. Junior Ore, the 105th-ranked singles player in the nation, won easily in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, over Proskura from the No. 2 line to even the match at one apiece. Minutes later, 120th-ranked Adams pushed the Aggies ahead, 2-1, as he upset 107th-ranked O’Shaughnessey, 6-3, 6-2, at the No. 3 line. 81st-ranked Vinsant pushed the Maroon and White ahead, 3-1 when he ousted Tsangarides, 6-3, 6-1, from the No. 4 line. Efferding, the highest-ranked individual for the Aggies at No. 26, secured the victory when he downed 73rd-ranked Jarryd Botha, 6-3, 6-4, at the No. 1 line.
    Texas A&M will be in action again tomorrow at 2 p.m. Stay tuned to and follow @AggieMTEN on Twitter to find out the Aggies opponent for the semifinal match.

    Texas A&M Advances with Win Over Auburn

    STARKVILLE, Miss. – Fourth-ranked and No. 2 seed Texas A&M opened the Southeastern Conference Women’s Tennis Championship with a 4-0 quarterfinal victory over 19th-ranked and No. 7 seed Auburn today at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre on the Mississippi State campus.
    With the win, Texas A&M (21-2) wins its sixth consecutive match and advances to the semifinals to face the winner between second-ranked and No. 3 seed Florida and No. 6 seed and 18th-ranked Vanderbilt Saturday at 2 p.m.
    "The 4-0 score line today belies the ferocious battle that took place at Pitts Tennis Centre today," A&M head coach Howard Joffe said. “Auburn's players showed every bit as much heart as they did skill in turning around an almost hopeless circumstance to pushing us to the limit. Our ladies will need to quickly turn their focus to our rematch with Florida or Vanderbilt, which will no doubt again ask some character questions of us."
    Texas A&M appeared to be in control of the match after winning the doubles point and taking the first set on five of six singles courts. But after falling behind, 3-0, Auburn (18-8) made a run as the four remaining singles matches would go to a third set.
    The match began with A&M’s 15th-ranked duo of Stefania Hristov and Cristina Stancu playing the No. 2 doubles line for the first time against an SEC opponent. They built a 4-1 lead against Emily Flickinger and Jackie Kasler, but the Auburn duo came back to tie the score at 4-4. A&M went on to win the next three games to go up, 7-4, but Auburn fought back once again to get within 7-6 before the Aggies closed out the 8-6 victory.
    Auburn evened the race for the doubles point, never trailing in an 8-6 victory at the No. 1 line. No. 11 Pleun Burgmans and Plamena Kurteva built a 4-1 lead before A&M’s 43rd-ranked Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar and Wen Sun fought back to tie the score at 5-5. The Aggies’ comeback ended there as  Auburn went on to close out an 8-6 win.
    The point came down to the No. 3 court where A&M’s Ines and Paula Deheza built a 7-4 lead and had match point against Jen Pfeifler and Paulina Schippers. The Tigers fought back to win the game and get within 7-5. A&M had two match points in the next game, but once again Auburn came from behind to win the game, cutting the lead to 7-5 before A&M won the next game to win the match and give the Aggies a 1-0 lead. 
    A&M, which entered the match 14-0 when winning the doubles point, won the first set on five of six singles courts. Hristov improved to 12-1 at the No. 6 line and gave the Aggies a 2-0 lead after cruising to a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Kurteva at the No. 6 line. Nazari Urbina followed with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Michala Kucharova at the No. 3 line to put A&M ahead, 3-0.
    Despite the lead, the momentum quickly shifted to Auburn’s favor as the remaining four matches would go to a third set. The Tigers held commanding leads on two courts and A&M had only a one-game lead on another court before Stancu clinched the win with a 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 victory over Flickinger at the No. 2 line.
    Sanchez-Quintanar, ranked No. 4 in the nation in singles, had won her first set, 6-2, against 23rd-ranked Burgmans at the No. 1 line, but Burgmans came back to win a tiebreaker in the second set, 8-6, to force a third set. Burgmans led the third set, 5-1, and after fighting off two match points, Sanchez-Quintanar had tied the game in progress, 40-40, when Stancu clinched her match and play was stopped.
    Ines Deheza, who entered singles play riding an 11-match win streak, had dropped her first set, 6-2, to Pfeifler but fought off three match points and came back from a 5-3 deficit to win the second set, 7-5, and force a third set. Pfeifler lead the third set, 5-2, when play was stopped.
    Sun had taken her first set, 6-1, over Kasler at No. 5, but Kasler pulled away for a 6-4 win in the second set. Wen held a narrow 3-2 lead in the third set when the team victory was decided.
    The Aggies, who are aiming for their first regular season conference championship since winning the Big 12 Conference regular season title in 2003, tied both Georgia and Florida for the regular season title with 12-1 records. Earlier this season, A&M handed then-No. 4 Florida its only SEC loss, winning 4-3 in College Station to mark the biggest win in program history. It was the Gators’ first regular season SEC loss since 2009, and it snapped their 45-match overall win streak against SEC opponents. A&M also defeated possible semifinalist opponent Vanderbilt, 4-3, in Nashville.
    Aggie fans can keep up to date on the A&M women’s tennis team on Twitter by following @AggieWTEN or on Facebook at:!/pages/Aggie-Womens-Tennis/143874782434654.

    Gators Power into Semifinal

    Florida lost the doubles point but put on an impressive showing on the singles courts and marched into the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference Championship after a 4-1 win against No. 18 Vanderbilt on a fridge and windy Friday evening at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
    With matches several hours behind schedule due to the competitive play of the three earlier contests, the Gators (20-2) didn’t finish their match until just after midnight (Eastern time zone) and the temperature dipping into the upper 30s.
    The team from the Sunshine State didn’t let the cold weather effect their play on the singles courts, where the Gators received straight-set wins from Olivia Janowicz (Palm Bay, Fla.), Alexandra Cercone (Seminole, Fla.),  Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.) and Caroline Hitimana (Waterloo, Belgium) and Florida improved to 26-0 all-time in SEC quarterfinal round matches.
    The Gators dropped a tough doubles points to begin the match, similar to how the regular-season finale started on April 14 in Nashville, where Florida rebounded with four victories on the singles courts to earn the 4-1 team win.
    The Commodore’s Ashleigh Antal and Marie Casares opened with an 8-3 win on court two against Alexandra Cercone (Seminole, Fla.) and Caroline Hitimana (Waterloo, Belgium) in 44 minutes, before Danielle Collins (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and Olivia Janowicz (Palm Bay, Fla.) came back five minutes later with an 8-2 victory over Frances Altick and Georgina Sellyn at the number three position.
    The doubles point came down to court one, where Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.) and Sofie Oyen (Leopoldsburg, Belgium) found themselves down 3-1 early to No. 10 Courtney Colton and Lauren Mira. The Gator pair was able to get the break in the 10th game and Embree held to get the match back on serve at 6-5. The Vandy pair, however, held and broke for a 7-6 lead. The Commodores won the first three points and the Gators were able to fight off two match points but not a third, as Vanderbilt captured the doubles point and the 1-0 lead in the team scoring 65 minutes into the match.
    “We got outplayed at doubles, Vanderbilt played really good doubles,” UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “We had our chances at one, but I felt like the Vanderbilt players were a little more aggressive at the end and that made a difference.”
    It was the eighth time this season Florida had dropped the doubles point.
    “Just like we’ve been doing all year, we regrouped really quickly and played excellent tennis from start to finish in singles,” Thornqvist said. “Olivia was again the first one off the court and Alex was right behind her. I was happy to see Caroline racked up a win because she was hitting match point last Sunday against Vanderbilt when we abandoned the match. Overall, I was pleased.”
    Janowicz collected her second individual win of the day and was the first Gator off the singles court when she posted a 6-1, 6-2 victory against Antal on court five, as the Gator junior won her team-leading 31st singles victory. Janowicz won the first two games of the match and Antal earned a break in the third game, but the Janowicz quickly regrouped and won four straight games to take the first set. The second set was nearly identical to the first and Janowicz won her 10th consecutive match and evened the team scoring at 1-all.
    Cercone was the next off the court, as she earned a 6-3, 6-2 win against Georgina Sellyn on court three and gave Florida a 2-1 lead. Cercone jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set en route to the opening frame win. The two competitors traded breaks early and Cercone earned her second break of the frame in the sixth game and held for a 5-2 lead as she broke one more time to earn her 10th straight victory, as well as the 90th of her career.
    Embree gave Florida a 3-1 lead in the team scoring as she topped Lauren Mira, 6-2, 6-2, on court one. The Gator All-American earned breaks in the fourth and eighth games to take the first set and then jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second. There were three straight breaks early in the second and Embree came out ahead, as she held for a 4-2 lead en route to her 17th straight singles victory which also was her 35th consecutive win in dual match singles action.
    Embree’s fellow senior, Hitimana polished off the dual match victory with her 6-4, 6-3 win against Altick on court six, where jumped out to a 3-0 lead to start the match and held a 4-1 advantage. Altick came back with a late break and was serving to try and get the set back on serve, but Hitimana came up with the break and took the frame. She again won the first three games of the second before Altick earn breaks in the fifth and seven games. Hitimana broke right back for a 5-3 lead and served out for the clinching win. The victory marked the Gator senior’s 33rd consecutive singles win in dual match pay, as well as her ninth straight victory overall.
    Florida plays fourth-ranked and second-seeded Texas A&M in the semifinals on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT. The Aggies (21-2) handed the Gators their only SEC setback and one of their two regular season losses, winning the doubles point before taking three singles matches for the 4-3 decision in College Station on March 3.
    “It’s going to be a fun match,” said Thornqvist of the rematch against Texas A&M. “They have a really good team and they have a new player in the lineup that did not play against us in the regular season. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to have to motivate anybody to play tomorrow.”
    The other semifinal match features top-seeded and third-ranked Georgia (20-2) against fourth-seeded and eighth-ranked Alabama (19-4) beginning at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT.