NATCHITOCHES, La. – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Women's Tennis team survived a slugfest against Northwestern State on Saturday afternoon, winning 4-3 against the Lady Demons in a Southland Conference match at the Jack Fisher Tennis Complex. The Islanders, ranked No. 69 in the nationals rankings of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the official rankings for all of NCAA Division I, had another tough match against NSU, the fourth straight match between the teams that has ended in a 4-3 final.
The Islanders (9-0, 2-0 Southland) topped Northwestern State (5-4, 0-1 Southland) with a big win of the doubles point, and a huge effort from Stefania Nicolae at No. 4 singles to clinch the match.
"That was as tough and back and forth as a college tennis match can get," said Director of Tennis Steve Moore. "We have a ton of respect for Northwestern State and coach Patrick DuBois."
The last four matches have been 4-3 scores, with the final singles match going to a third set before the dual match was decided. After losing the first two by a 4-3 score, the Islanders have taken the last two 4-3 matches, winning in the opening round of the Southland Conference Tournament last year before earning a hard-fought win on Saturday.
"We have really developed a great rivalry with them," said Moore. "It's incredibly intense, but a very good, respectful rivalry."
In what would be a crucial point, Texas A&M – Corpus Christi earned the doubles victory with wins at No. 1 and No. 3 to take the early lead. Mia Matuszak and Maider Martin won 8-2 to give the Islanders the first match, while Doris Kuselj and Nicolae picked up an 8-4 final at No. 1 spot to clinch the point. Sandra Burges and Chelsea Horan lost in doubles for the first time this season, falling 8-6 at No. 2 to make it a 2-1 final in the doubles portion of the match.
In singles, each team picked up three wins as Texas A&M – Corpus Christi earned the crucial win.
The Lady Demons tied things up at 1-1 when Martin fell by a 6-1, 6-0 final at No. 3 singles, but Celia Rodriguez Delgado regained the lead for the Islanders, winning 6-4, 6-4 for her team at the No. 6 position. Horan put Texas A&M – Corpus Christi on the brink with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 win at No. 5, but NSU would rally.
Kuselj fell 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 at No. 1 singles, and Burges lost her first singles match of the season with a 7-6 (7-1), 7-5 final at No. 2 to make it a 3-3 match.
That is where Nicolae stepped up and rallied from a set down to take the crucial final point at No. 4 singles, winning 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 to keep the Islanders undefeated on the year.
Nicolae was able to clinch the match in front of her parents, who had flown in from Romania to see her play this week.
"I could not be more proud for Stefania," said Moore. "To clinch to deciding match with her mom and dad having coming all the way from Romania to watch? That's as good as it gets. She played with great courage, and she really deserves it."
It took all parts of the team to complete the win today as the Islanders earned their closest win of the year.
"This was a true team win today," said Moore. "They earned it at one of the toughest places to play on the road, and in front of a great crowd. We have to make incredibly good choices to get rested and hydrated to be able to duplicate this effort tomorrow."
The road will not get any easier for the Islanders, with defending Southland Conference Champion Stephen F. Austin awaiting in Nacogdoches, Texas for a Sunday afternoon affair. The match is schedule for a 2 p.m. start at the Schlief Tennis Complex.
"Sticking together, facing adversity and showing character, that is what college tennis is all about," said Moore. "I love the character of these girls, and I'm excited to battle on the road with them again over the next few days."
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Tennis Match Results
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi vs Northwestern State
03/09/13 at Natchitoches, La.
#69 Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 4, Northwestern State 3
1. Konop, Polina (NWLA) def. Doris Kuselj (AMCC) 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
2. Larina, Tatiana (NWLA) def. Sandra Burges (AMCC) 7-6 (7-1), 7-5
3. Krutova, Natalya (NWLA) def. Maider Martin (AMCC) 6-1, 6-0
4. Stefania Nicolae (AMCC) def. Nedorostova, Andrea (NWLA) 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
5. Chelsea Horan (AMCC) def. Leyshyna, Olga (NWLA) 7-6 (7-5), 6-2
6. Celia Rodriguez (AMCC) def. Simonova, Daniela (NWLA) 6-4, 6-4
1. Doris Kuselj/Stefania Nicolae (AMCC) def. Larina, Tatiana/Nedorostova, Andrea (NWLA) 8-4
2. Konop, Polina/Krutova, Natalya (NWLA) def. Chelsea Horan/Sandra Burges (AMCC) 8-6
3. Maider Martin/Mia Matuszak (AMCC) def. Williams, Amy/Simonova, Daniela (NWLA) 8-2
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi 9-0, 2-0 Southland; National ranking #69
Northwestern State 5-4, 0-1 Southland
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (3,6,5,1,2,4)