Women’s Tennis fights to the finish


Rebecca Howeth

Junior Aeriel Ellis stretches to return the ball with her back hand. Ellis dropped her match against the No. 80 player in the country, Nazari Urbina, in two quick sets on Tuesday.

Matt Warden

It was a calm and cool Tuesday night, but the Longhorns met a storm they couldn’t weather.

In their third match in the last four days, the Longhorns emerged from a battle in College Station with a 4-3 defeat to Texas A&M. After dropping the doubles point, the women flashed their trademark resiliency but just fell short of the victory.

Powerhouses Krista Damico and Aeriel Ellis fought hard but both eventually lost in straight sets to top tier opponents. Damico’s loss came at the hands of the No. 8 player in the country, while Ellis was defeated by the No. 80 ranked player. Even though Damico and Ellis have been streaky recently, a loss here or there is little cause for concern with these two.

The bottom of the Longhorn’s lineup continued its brilliant play, as the three wins for the team came from the fourth, fifth and sixth singles spots. The women might have lost the match, but impressive play from this half of the lineup bodes well for the team as the Big 12 Championships approach.

Sophomore Elizabeth Begley continued to earn her title as the backbone of the team, winning her match in straight sets to push her record to 13-1, including a perfect 7-0 record in conference play. Freshman Lina Padegimaite also earned a win in straight sets, pushing her win total to 13 as well.

Recently named Big 12 player of the week, Cierra Gaytan-Leach continued her gritty play by winning a tough match. Although she won in straight sets, she fought back from a deficit for the third match in a row to preserve some dignity for her team.

After two straight matches with top 25 competition, a loss to the No. 20 Aggies should be nothing for the Longhorns to hang their heads about. At 6-1, they still sit at the top of the conference.

Despite this first blemish on their conference record, the women still have a lot of things to be excited about heading into this weekend’s matches with Big 12 foes Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and head coach Patty Fendick-McCain isn’t worried moving forward.

“Aeriel [Ellis] mounted a charge at the end there. Obviously, she’s fighting hard. It’s a little disappointing with the doubles, that’s where the match was won and lost as it turns out, and we didn’t play particularly well at a couple positions there. We’ll figure it out by the time we hit the [Big 12] tournament. We’ve got a lot more tennis to play,” she said. “We’ve got two more matches coming up, and that’s going to determine the conference champion. We’ll be ready to go.”

Printed on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 as: Texas drops close contest to Aggies