Texans Begin Match Play in College Station Against Texas A&M, McNeese


With the turn of the calendar comes team match play for the Tarleton tennis program, a welcome sight after the strong momentum they had ending the 2020-21 season.

Last year, the Texans won five of their last six matches, including their last two of the year in dominating fashion, 6-1 and 7-0. The team had everything going their way, including a 5-1 Western Athletic Conference record, finishing with an 11-10 overall mark.

That last match was nine months ago, so it may take some time to get that momentum back, especially beginning the 2022 slate against the Southeastern Conference’s Texas A&M.

On Sunday at 4 p.m. CT, the Texans take on the Aggies in College Station at the Mitchell Tennis Center. It will be Texas A&M’s second match of the day, as they take on McNeese at noon. Tarleton will then play McNeese themselves on Monday at 10 a.m. CT at the same location.

The Aggies were a NCAA Tournament team just a season ago, advancing all the way to the Sweet 16 before losing to No. 7 Florida State 4-2. Texas A&M, who was No. 10, advanced past Drake in the first round and No. 21 Northwestern in the second round. They went 21-8 overall, 11-1 at home. The Cowgirls had the complete opposite season, finishing 1-17, losing nine straight matches to end the year. Their lone win was a 6-1 victory over Incarnate Word.

This isn’t the first time this season the Texans and Aggies have had a meeting of some sort. Tarleton sophomore MArtha Makantasi and Texas A&M freshman Mary Stoiana faced off in the ITA Division I Women’s Texas Regional Championship in October in Fort Worth. Makantasi had advanced to the main draw after two wins over participants from Texas and Incarnate Word the previous day before falling to the 11th seeded Stoiana, 1-6 1-6.

Makantasi’s and Deniza Marcinkevica’s run in the regional tournament was one of the highlights of the fall for the Texans, with the newcomer Marcinkevica also advancing to the main draw with wins over players from Sam Houston and SMU.

The Texans have nine players on the 2021-22 roster, six of them returning from last season. Although they lost their No. 1 singles player, they return Nos. 2-6.

Jemi Aguilar, one of two seniors on the team, played all 17 of her matches in the No. 2 slot last year, recording a 10-7 record. Her last two matches against Dixie State’s Alexandra Hildreth and Seattle U’s Peggy Rooke were one-sided, winning 6-0 6-0 and 6-2 6-2, respectively.

Makantasi had the best overall singles record for the purple and white, going 15-2 in the No. 3 slot. She won seven straight matches to end the season, all in straight sets. That put her on the All-WAC Second Team Singles and she was a three-time WAC Player of the Week.

Sophomore Elsa Boisson is back after winning nine of 14 singles matches last season, 13 of them played in the No. 4 slot. She won four straight to end the year, all in straight sets, as well.

Junior Celia Vaudiau was an impressive 13-3 in the No. 5 slot, undefeated in conference play 6-0. That unblemished mark put her on the All-WAC First Team. Sophomore Rose Watanabe rounded out the singles group, going 5-6 in the No. 6 slot.

In doubles, all but two of everyone who participated in matches is back again, including Tarleton’s other senior, Faustine Palatte. She had the best winning percentage on the team at .643, finishing 9-5. She won nine of 13 matches in the No. 2 slot. She was a two-time WAC Doubles Player of the Week winner.

The most common No. 1 slot pairing returns in Aguilar and Makantasi. They went 9-4 together, winners of five straight doubles matches to end the year. Overall in doubles, Makantasi went 11-7 and Aguilar went 11-8. They were both named to the All-WAC Doubles Team. Boisson (7-9, WAC Doubles Player of the Week award winner), Vaudiau (5-8) and Watanabe (3-5, WAC Doubles Player of the Week award winner) also played doubles last season.

Three newcomers will look to find their place starting Sunday, with Marcinkevica, Anna Davidson and Natalia Komar joining the mix. Marcinkevica, a junior, joins the Texans from Fresno State. She was named to the 2021 All-Mountain West Doubles Team after going 13-3 overall in doubles, including a 12-2 run alongside partner Dalia Ahmed in the No. 1 position.

Davidson joins the squad from just down the road, transferring to Tarleton from Abilene Christian. There she won three of four doubles matches at the New Mexico State Invitational. Komar, meanwhile, was a 2019 graduate of Sopocka Tennis Academy in Inowroclaw, Poland.

Tarleton has 24 matches on the schedule, from Sunday through April 16.

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