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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

No. 13 Texas A&M’s women’s tennis fights to a 4-1 victory over Princeton

Photo by Photo by Paul Burke

Junior Katya Townsend lunges after a shot.

The crowd was silent, watching in anxious anticipation. The ball shot across the court. If anyone had blinked they would have missed it, but junior Carson Branstine had been trained to track the lime green comet in every move it made. It bounced once before it continued its rapid trajectory — right past the outstretched racquet in Branstine’s hand.
Game, set, match.
In the first meet of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, or ITA, kickoff weekend, the Texas A&M women’s tennis team took on the determined Princeton Tigers. The undefeated Aggies managed to hold off an aggressive Tiger offensive to earn a 4-1 win, but the match recorded the first point scored against the Aggies’ program this season.
Coach Mark Weaver said Princeton’s 0-5 record is misleading for the team’s ability to compete.
“It was a really exciting college match, and it played out exactly as I expected,” Weaver said. “Princeton is a very strong team; they really are a top-20 caliber program. I know it might be hard for the average tennis fan to understand given their 0-5 start, but if you look at the Universal Tennis Ratings of both sides, it truly was a dead-even match on paper. They have three nationally-ranked players in their singles lineup, and they have several players ranked higher than our entire group.”
The day began with the doubles event in which the No. 5 ranked duo of senior Jayci Goldsmith and graduate Tatiana Makarova took on Princeton’s own No. 7 ranked pair of juniors Daria Frayman and Grace Joyce and secured a 6-2 win. Freshmen Jeanette Mireles and Gianna Pielet were locked in a heated rally that ultimately went unfinished at 4-3 following the win from Branstine and freshman Mary Stoiana that earned the doubles point for the Aggies.
Stoiana said strategy and experience combined to help her and Branstine secure the win.
“Both of us were playing very aggressive at the start of the match, and we were both putting a lot of pressure on our opponent by playing strong at the net,” Stoiana said. “I could tell that we caught them off guard, so we were able to get a lead fairly quickly. Playing with Carson [Branstine] is pretty grounding because she has so much experience, and she’s really good at keeping both of us calm. She understands the plays, so it just all seems to make sense when I’m playing with Carson.”
In the singles event, the Tigers came out fighting with back-and-forth rallies on almost every court. However, the maroon and white did not let up with Mireles and Goldsmith both clinching straight-set wins over their opponents. Branstine faced Frayman, the No. 4 ranked singles player in the nation. Taking a 6-0 loss in the first set, Branstine fought hard to mount a comeback, but ultimately fell short. On the next court over, Stoiana faced a ranked player of her own, No. 60 ranked senior Brianna Shvets, in a marathon of stamina. Stoiana held the momentum with a 6-0 win in the first set, but Shvets put up a tough fight pulling up a 6-6 tie until Stoiana hit the seventh point, securing the win for the Aggies and advancing them to the ITA finals. The win against Shvets puts Stoiana 5-1 against nationally-ranked opponents and extends her streak to eight wins in the season.
Her refusal to give up and desire to earn the win for the team is what carried her through the match, Stoiana said.
“I knew that if I just kept fighting, I would be able to give myself a shot to get a point on the board for our team,” Stoiana said. “Whether I’m playing my best tennis in the second set or not, I am able to control the amount of effort that I put in. Also, seeing Carson [Branstine] and Gianna [Pielet] fighting on their courts next to me really motivated me and encouraged me to keep digging in as best I could.”
The maroon and white head to the ITA regional finals on Sunday, Jan. 30 to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders, where the winner will advance to the ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships on Feb. 11-14 in Madison, Wis.

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