Women's Tennis Preview: No. 12 Baylor, No. 22 Texas Tech
April 12, 2012
WHAT: No. 13 Texas (11-5, 4-0 Big 12) resumes conference play this weekend when it hosts No. 12 Baylor (19-5, 5-1 Big 12) and No. 22 Texas Tech (15-3, 5-0 Big 12). Texas' senior class of Krista Damico, Julia Wiegand, Carlene Leyden and Maya Zein-El-Abdin will be recognized prior to Sunday's match at approximately 11:15 a.m. Central.
WHEN: #13 Texas vs. #12 Baylor - Saturday, April 14 - 11:30 a.m. Central
WHERE: Penick-Allison Tennis Center - Austin, Texas
TELEVISION: Longhorn Network will offer live telecasts of both matches. Mark Brown (play-by-play) and former Longhorn Jon Wiegand (color analyst) will have the call.
LIVE SCORING: Available at TexasSports.com
ITA RANKINGS UPDATE
LAST TIME OUT: Texas defeated Kansas by a 7-0 count (March 30) and Kansas State (April 1) by a 5-2 margin in Austin.
WINNING THE HARD WAY
Under seventh-year head coach Patty Fendick-McCain, the Longhorns hold an 11-5 mark in dual-match play. All but six matches to date have been played against opponents ranked no lower than No. 23 in the ITA team poll at the time of the match.
Texas opened the season with a 4-3 win over No. 4 North Carolina on a neutral site at the USTA's Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the site of the annual U.S. Open. The Longhorns ventured away from home again the following weekend when they participated in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend event. Texas edged No. 23 Alabama by a 4-3 count before toppling 17th-ranked Vanderbilt, the event host, by a 4-1 count.
Two weeks later, Texas added a 4-3 win over No. 15 Clemson at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Charlottesville, Va. On March 2, in just their first home match of the season, the Longhorns overpowered No. 8 Northwestern from the start and emerged with a 6-1 victory over the Wildcats.
Additionally, four of Texas' five defeats have come against ITA top-10 foes - No. 3 USC, No. 4 Georgia, No. 6 Virginia and No. 10 Miami - with three of the matches played at neutral sites.
DAMICO NAMED BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
The Big 12 Conference selected Texas' Krista Damico as the league's women's tennis player of the week on March 19 after the senior registered a victory over an ITA top-20 opponent and two additional singles victories against USC, Iowa State and Missouri.
Damico opened her productive week with a come-from-behind three-set victory (0-6, 6-3, 6-4) over USC's 18th-ranked Danielle Lao on March 14 in the Horns' 4-3 defeat to the fourth-ranked Trojans. Damico notched her ninth and 10th consecutive victories in Texas' weekend victories at Iowa State and Missouri.
Damico helped the Horns jump out to a 2-0 mark in conference play with wins over Iowa State's Maria Macedo (6-4, 6-3) and Missouri's Nina Pantic (7-6, 6-2). She added a pair of doubles wins alongside Cierra Gaytan-Leach at No. 2 doubles against Iowa State and Missouri.
Damico has won 12 of her last 13 singles matches and has only two losses in dual-match play. Eight of the 12 victories came against ranked opponents.
YOUTH IS SERVED
Texas is benefiting not only from the experience of Aeriel Ellis and Krista Damico but also from the results of its underclassmen. In fact, UT's freshmen and sophomores have accounted for 42 of the Horns' 59 (71%) dual-match singles wins.
Freshman Noel Scott boasts 15 overall singles victories in her freshman season, and her two of her five dual-match victories helped the Horns qualify for the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. In January, Scott posted a 6-2, 6-4 win over Alabama's 40th-ranked Alexa Guarachi before defeating Vanderbilt's 113th-ranked Lauren Mira, 6-0, 6-2.
Freshman Lina Padegimaite holds a 12-4 dual-match record, which features a win over Georgia's 80th-ranked Kate Fuller at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. Gaytan-Leach owns nine dual-match victories. She defeated North Carolina's 76th-ranked Caroline Price at fourth singles in UT's 4-3 win over the fourth-ranked Tar Heels. Gaytan-Leach also features wins over Clemson's Romy Koelzer and Northwestern's Linda Abu Mushrefova. Begley is off to a quick start with a 13-2 dual-match record and a 26-7 overall singles record.
LONGHORNS CRACK THE ITA TOP-10
Texas vaulted six spots into the No. 9 slot in the Feb. 28 release of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) women's college tennis team poll. The Longhorns cracked the top-10 in the ITA team poll for the first time in six seasons, when they reached No. 3 on Feb. 22, 2006.
Texas moved up to No. 8 in the March 13 poll before dropping back to No. 9 in the March 20 release of the team rankings. The Horns rank 13th in this week's poll.
THE 2011-12 LONGHORNS: Texas returns four regular singles starters from the 2010-11 squad that reached the finals of the Big 12 Championship and the round of 32 at the NCAA Championships.
The Horns are led by junior Aeriel Ellis, who last season became UT's first ITA All-American since 1999. The Californian has qualified to compete in all eight of the previous national championship events contested during her two-plus seasons as a Longhorn. She reached the round of 16 of the singles draw at the 2011 NCAA Championships.
Senior Krista Damico totaled a 21-16 overall singles record last season while playing primarily at No. 2 singles. The Colorado native is off to a solid start in dual-match play with victories over Alabama's 104th-ranked Courtney McLane and Vanderbilt's 110th-ranked Marie Casares.
UT returns a talented sophomore class who saw significant time in the dual-match lineup last season. Juliana Gajic totaled a 13-6 dual-match record, primarily at No. 5 singles, and Cierra Gaytan-Leach totaled a 9-3 dual-match record. Elizabeth Begley has won nine of her last 10 decisions, including a win over Virginia's 89th-ranked Caryssa Peretz in January. Begley added two wins last month at the ITA National Team Indoors.
Freshman Noel Scott defeated two ITA-ranked opponents in the Horns' two victories at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend event. Scott defeated Vanderbilt's 69th-ranked Lauren Mira by a 6-0, 6-2 count one day after toppling Alabama's 43rd-ranked Alexa Guarachi, 6-2, 6-4.
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