Texas defeats Sooner state rivals twice during weekend

Alex Endress

The Texas women’s tennis squad picked up two key conference victories over the weekend against Oklahoma State and No. 22 Oklahoma.

First the Longhorns trounced the Cowgirls 6-1 on Friday.

Junior Krista Damico and sophomore Aeriel Ellis began the match with a convincing 8-2 triumph over OSU’s doubles pair of Nataliya Shatkovskaya and C.C. Sardinha. Freshmen Cierra Gaytan-Leach and senior Amanda Craddock secured the doubles point for UT, beating Oklahoma State’s second pairing of Kanyapat Narratana and Malika Rose 8-5.

Afterward, Texas freshman Juliana Gajic and senior Maggie Mello survived the stamina battle against OSU’s Sasha Belova and Leyla Simmons, winning 7-6 (4) in a tiebreaker.

“That was probably the best doubles we have played all year,” said Texas head coach Patty Fendick-McCain. “Oklahoma State is a tough team. I think our girls were really mentally prepared to go in and do some damage.”

Ellis began the singles side of the match with a 6-4, 4-0 win over Belova, giving UT a 2-0 lead overall. Craddock was next in line, prevailing 6-4, 6-1 over Sardinha.

“I had to be really aggressive towards her,” Craddock said. “It was really just who could last longer and put away the shots.”

Gaytan-Leach sealed the Longhorn victory with a 6-2, 6-2 triumph over Sarah Meghoufel.

“The Big 12 is the strongest it’s ever been this year,” Fendick-McCain said. “Obviously, getting that one under our belts feels pretty good.”

Texas faced the Sooners on Sunday. The Longhorns sent their seniors off in good style, beating Oklahoma in the last home match of the season.

Texas had a tough break to start the match, losing the doubles point to Oklahoma in a tie-breaker.

Craddock and Gaytan-Leach began, beating OU’s Ana-Maria Constantinescu and Alice Radu 8-3. Afterward, Gajic and Mello fell to OU’s Tara Eckel and Marie-Pier Huet 4-8. Damico and Ellis were defeated in a back and forth tie-breaker, 7-5.

Behind 0-1, Gaytan-Leach defeated OU’s Maria Kalashnikova 6-0, 6-3 after Ritchie retired from her match against Mello, forfeiting 7-5, 2-1. Damico pushed UT’s lead to 3-1, beating Constantinescu 6-4, 6-4.

“It was a stressful beginning, but it forced me to dig down deep,” Damico said. “It’s always great to win against the big ones like OU and Texas A&M.”

Gajic clinched the victory for Texas, prevailing over Lancaster.

“This is a pivotal win,” Fendick-McCain said. “The sooners have been a very tough team and have been ahead of us most of the year. We were up to the challenge today, and knew it was coming.”