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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

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Khirin’s clutch comeback seals the deal for A&M
Photo by Adriano Espinosa
Sophomore Nicole Khirin swings on Friday, April 12, 2024, at Mitchell Tennis Center. (Adriano Espinosa/The Battalion)

The No. 13 Texas A&M women’s tennis team took on No. 16 Tennessee in the semifinal of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, May 18 at the Greenwood Tennis Center in Stillwater, Oklahoma. 

The Aggies left no doubt as to who the better team was with a 4-1 victory, giving A&M a chance to compete in the final.

A&M had its foot on the gas early in doubles with senior Carson Branstine and freshman Lucciana Perez dismantling Tennessee’s graduate Alana Wolfberg and senior Esther Adeshina, 6-1.

The Aggies clinched the doubles point in resounding fashion on Court 1 after the No. 7 pairing of junior Mary Stoiana and sophomore Mia Kupres beat No. 11 junior Elza Tomase and senior Sofia Cabezas, 6-2.

“We really came out and took matters into our own hands and we were the ones dictating the play on all three courts,” coach Mark Weaver said.

No. 1 singles and SEC Player of the Year Stoiana doubled the Aggies’ lead with a quick win over No. 14 Sofia Cabezas in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2. Stoiana’s victory marked her 21st ranked win of the year.

After a highly competitive first set of singles that saw the sets split between the two sides, Tennessee’s marathon to get to the Final Four seemed to catch up to the Volunteers as the Aggies began to test its endurance.

The Maroon and White were on the verge of punching their ticket to the finals after No. 88 Branstine defeated Tomase, 7-5, 6-2, giving the Aggies a 3-0 advantage over the Volunteers.

Tennessee kept its hopes alive with a clutch Court 6 win by senior Esther Adeshina over junior Jeanette Mireles in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.

A&M only needed one match to go to the final, and Kupres and sophomore Nicole Khirin were in a race to see who could clinch the win for the Aggies, as both only needed one set to send the Volunteers packing.

With anticipation building and her teammates cheering her on, Khirin stormed back after losing the first set to Wolfberg 7-5 to send the Aggies to the final for the second time in program history with a triumphant 6-0, 6-3 comeback.

“As a group, we are embracing the little details really well, and we are so talented that we have this inner belief in us that we can go all the way,” Stoiana said.

The Maroon and White will take on No. 7 Georgia in the NCAA Tennis Championship Final on Sunday, May 19 at 6:30 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Adriano Espinosa
Adriano Espinosa, Photographer
Adriano is an Industrial Distribution Engineering major and a photographer in The Battalion from the Houston area. He enjoys all things live, whether it's portraits, wildlife, sports, or news, and isn't afraid to get down in the mud for a good shot or moment.
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