Big 12 Finds Success In NCAA Singles Play
Courtesy: Big12Sports.com
          Release: 05/23/2012
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Big 12 Conference student-athletes went a combined 8-3 on the first day of play in the singles portion of the NCAA Tennis Championships at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.

On the men's side, OU's Costin Paval advanced to the second round by downing Georgia's Hernus Pieters. Paval, the nation's 12th-ranked singles player, boasts a 16-3 record after taking down Pieters, ranked No. 60, in straight sets. The Bucharest, Romania-native took the first set 6-3 and earned a 6-4 victory in the second to advance. The Sooner will now face a familiar opponent in Texas Tech's No. 40-ranked Gonzalo Escobar in the second round Thursday.

Escobar, ranked 40th nationally, battled back to take a straight-set win over No. 29 Ryan Thatcher of Stanford, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) in the first round. It was Escobar's 30th single-season singles win, breaking his own school record of 29 he set last year. He also extended his career win total to 98, which ranks No. 1 all-time for the Red Raiders. Escobar is now 3-0 in NCAA first round matches, always playing as the lower seed.

BU freshman Mate Zsiga dropped a three-setter to Georgia senior Ignacio Taboada. After Zsiga won the first set, 6-4, the 52nd-ranked Taboada claimed the next two sets, 6-4, 6-2, to earn the victory. The 17th-ranked player finished the season with a singles record of 36-9, including a 15-9 mark against nationally ranked opponents.

Texas A&M senior co-captain Alexis Klegou battled in a three-hour match against a higher-ranked opponent in the first round but Klegou lost, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 to Nik Scholtz of Ole Miss on Wednesday. Klegou is ranked No. 33 in the latest ITA rankings and Scholtz is seeded No. 9-16 in the NCAA Championships and is ranked No. 14. He ends the season with a 17-17 overall record and was 7-14 against nationally-ranked opponents.

On the women's side, Baylor's senior trio of Nina Secerbegovic, Diana Nakic and Sona Novakova combined for a 3-0 day in the Round of 64 to advance to the second round. Secerbegovic started the day with a straight-set win, and then Novakova and Nakic each followed with wins to give Baylor three players in the Round of 32 for the second time in school history and first since 2008.

Secerbegovic, ranked 23rd in the nation, was the first to hit the courts and took down North Carolina's 70th-ranked Lauren McHale with ease, 6-3, 6-2. The win gives Secerbegovic her third consecutive berth into the Round of 32 at the event. She will face Tennessee's 32nd-ranked Brynn Boren on Thursday.

Next up for the Lady Bears, Novakova, ranked 56th, pulled an upset over 38th-ranked Zoe De Bruycker of UNC in three sets. The pair traded 6-3 victories in the first two sets, but Novakova got the late break point she needed to win the third 7-5. After bowing out in the Round of 64 last season, Novakova will play in her first Round of 32 match. She will take on sixth-seeded Jana Juricova of California on Thursday.

To complete the Baylor sweep in singles play, Nakic, seeded in the 9-16 range, dominated Miami's 27th-ranked Gabriella Mejia 6-2, 6-2. The BU senior earned a berth into her first Round of 32 match as well. Nakic earned a berth in her first two collegiate seasons at Georgia State, but was unable to compete in either, and then bowed out in the Round of 64 last season. Nakic will now meet a familiar opponent in Kansas State's 29th-ranked Petra Niedermayerova.

Niedermayerova advanced to the Round of 32 with a three-set win (6-4, 3-6, 6-3) over No. 81 Lutfiana Budiharto of Wichita State. Niedermayerova is the first Wildcat to reach the Round of 32 since Alena Jecminkova in 2002.

Texas junior All-American Aeriel Ellis stands one win away from securing a second consecutive ITA All-America honor after saving three match points and rallying for a three-set win Wednesday in the opening round.

The 40th-ranked Ellis toughed it out for nearly three hours and rallied for a 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1 win over Georgia's 58th-ranked Maho Kowase to advance to the round of 32 in the singles draw. Ellis will face South Carolina's 45th-ranked Anya Morgina in the round of 32 on Thursday at a time to be announced later.

Texas A&M junior Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar was down triple-match point in the third set of her first-round match but came back in dramatic fashion to defeat 52nd-ranked Alexa Guarachi of Alabama, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (3).

It was the 10th consecutive victory for Sanchez-Quintanar, who improves to 38-5. She will face 31st-ranked Joelle Kissell of North Carolina State in the second round tomorrow at 9 a.m. (CT). Kissell defeated No. 48 Tayler Davis of California, 7-5, 6-1 to advance.

Aggie teammate Nazari Urbina, A&M's first three-time NCAA Singles Championship participant, was not as fortunate as she fell to 28th-ranked Cristina Stancu of Maryland, 7-6 (3), 6-0, in the opening round.

Doubles action for the league's six tandems begins on Thursday as well.

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