By Craig Sanders
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The fifth-ranked UA women's tennis team corralled one of tennis' elites Saturday as it pinned up second-ranked Texas 5-4.
Arizona increased its record to 16-3 on the season while the Longhorns dropped to 17-3.
"This was a great match for the team," Wildcats coach Becky Bell said. "The win really does a lot for our confidence. Our team worked so hard and this was something that they deserved."
Singles was again the key for Arizona as it took four of the six matches. The Longhorns were led by the No. 1 singles player in the country, Kelly Pace, who defeated Arizona's Vicky Maes in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 and increased her overall record to 29-3.
"Maes didn't play her best tennis, but she still hung tough with the best player in the nation," Bell said. "On any given day, Vicky can beat any player. All she has to do is continue to cut down on her errors and work hard."
The Wildcats' Betsy Miringoff and Melody Falco made quick work of their singles matches as they both won in straight sets. Falco blasted Jennifer Nasser 6-1, 6-0 and Miringoff crushed Ashley Mokry 6-1, 6-1.
The key singles match of the day involved Arizona's Stephanie Sammaritano, who faced off against Texas' Cristina Moros. The Wildcats were up 3-2 in singles play and Sammaritano had split the first sets 4-6, 6-3. Moros had taken a 5-3 lead in the third set and seemed to have the momentum before Sammaritano sent an ace past her and turned the tide. She rallied from the deficit to take the third set 7-5.
Arizona came out of singles with a 4-2 team lead and needed to win only one doubles match to clinch the victory. They did that early as the UA's No. 3 doubles team of Miringoff and Angela Bernal made quick work of Nasser and Ashley Johnson 6-1, 6-1.
The victory clinched the match for Arizona and took a little of the luster off the long-anticipated match between the Wildcats' fifth-ranked doubles team of Maes and Eva Maria Schurhoff and Texas' third-ranked duo of Pace and Moros.
"These are the kind of matches that we play tennis for," Schurhoff said. "This is what we love to do. You can only be the best if you play the best."
Maes and Schurhoff jumped out to an early 5-2 lead in the first set before the Longhorns rallied. The match went into a tie break where Arizona was unable to hold on to its early lead. The second set saw the Wildcats again race out to an early 5-2 lead. This time Maes and Schurhoff were in complete control as they took the set 6-3.
The third and final set belonged to Pace and Moros. The Wildcats were unable to race out to the quick lead and committed several unforced
errors. The duo was most successful when attacking the net, but found itself on its heels late in the match. Despite not playing their best, the partners took the Longhorns to another tie break before Texas won 7-5.
The Wildcats are at the end of a seven-match home stand that began March 10 with a 5-1 loss to No. 3 UCLA. That loss seemed to be a wake-up call for the team as it fired off six straight victories Ä including wins over eighth-ranked Arizona State and Saturday's victory over Texas.
Arizona will take its six-match win streak to the Bay Area next week as it must again battle a pair of top 10 teams. Arizona will meet No. 10 California Friday and seventh-ranked Stanford Saturday.
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