COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas A&M is well represented in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association women's individual preseason rankings, highlighted by All-American Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar's No. 4 singles ranking.
The No. 4 ranking equals A&M's all-time highest singles ranking set by Sanchez-Quintanar (pronounced keen-TAH-nar) last March, and it is currently the highest ranking of all players representing the Southeastern Conference. Sanchez-Quintanar, the 2012 Big 12 Player of the Year, advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Singles Championship and was ranked No. 6 in last year's final rankings.
"On the surface, Cristina's ranking is obviously based on her outstanding performance last year," A&M second-year head coach Howard Joffe (pronounced JOFF-ee) said. "For her to replicate what she did is a huge task, but whether she is able to or not, there are lots of challenges ahead for her in terms or leading our team to achieve the goals we have set as a team for this upcoming year."
Junior Cristina Stancu begins her first season at A&M ranked No. 17 after transferring in from Maryland. The ranking gives A&M two players in the top 20, equaling perennial power Stanford for the second most players listed in the top 20, just behind Southern California, which has three individuals in the top 20 in singles.
A&M senior Nazari Urbina, who has made a school-record three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Singles Championship, and senior Wen Sun also represent the Aggies in the singles rankings, coming in at No. 38 and No. 46, respectively, to round out a notable group of A&M players ranked in the top 50.
"USC has three kids in the top 15, and we have two kids in the top 20 and four kids in the top 40 or so," Joffe said, "so there is no question that it is very impressive, and yet it does reflect preseason rankings. If we can end the season with having four, five or six players ranked inside the top 50, that would command a lot more respect. What lies ahead of us is the important thing."
The four A&M ranked singles players also are listed in the preseason doubles rankings, with Sanchez-Quintanar and Stancu coming in at No. 22 and Sun and Urbina ranked No. 44.
"It's definitely exciting that we have so many of our players well positioned in the rankings," Joffe said. "On the other hand, it sort of just reflects what is behind all of us. We understand that what is behind us counts for nothing, and we have a huge responsibility to prepare well and make sure that this glaring, obvious potential actually turns into results come the spring."
The ITA also announced that Sanchez-Quintanar, Stancu, Urbina and Sun will represent Texas A&M in the prestigious Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championships next month in California. Sanchez-Quintanar and Stancu both received automatic entries into the singles main draw, making A&M the only SEC school to have more than one player receive an automatic entry into the main draw. Sun and Urbina will compete in the qualifying singles bracket.
In addition, Sanchez-Quintanar and Stancu will pair up in the qualifying doubles draw, while Sun and Urbina have been selected to play in the prequalifying doubles field.
Joffe returns three letterwinners from last year's team that went 19-6, advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament and finished No. 17 in the final team rankings. In addition, Joffe welcomes six newcomers, including two who will join the team in January.
A split squad of players will open fall season play this weekend, with Sanchez-Quintanar, Stancu Sun and freshman Stefania Hristov competing at the Duke Fab-Four Invitational in Cary, N.C., and freshman Anna Mamalat and Alyssa Caffey, a junior transfer from New Mexico, competing at the Midland Racquet Club Collegiate Invitational in Midland, Texas.
Texas A&M in the ITA Preseason Rankings:
4. Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar, Sr., Campo de Criptana, Spain
17. Cristina Stancu, Jr., Constanta, Romania
38. Nazari Urbina, Sr., Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico
46. Wen Sun, Sr., Dalian, China
For more information on Texas A&M women's tennis, go to AggieAthletics.com. For complete ITA rankings, go to ITAtennis.com
Nazari Urbina nah-ZAR-ee ur-BEE-nuh