Men make statement in North Carolina
Great teams are never afraid of rising to the occasion.
For the men’s tennis team, this weekend was a step in the right direction in becoming elite.
The No. 20 Longhorns swept their ACC road trip this weekend with huge wins against No. 16 N.C. State and No. 6 North Carolina.
The journey began Friday at North Carolina State. After dropping the doubles point for just the third time all spring, the Longhorns rallied back to take four consecutive singles matches and win the match 4-1. Three of the four singles matches went three sets deep.
“This was a tough match,” Texas men’s head coach Michael Center said. “We saw a really hard-fought contest … we competed really well in singles, and that was the difference.”
Center gave high praise to his rising star Yuya Ito, who fell behind early but came back to win a crucial match 2-6, 7-5, 6-4.
“That result is indicative of the work and the attitude that he’s had,” Center said. “He doesn’t give in, even in practice.”
While the win against North Carolina State was impressive, the real highlight of the weekend was the Longhorns’ huge upset against No. 6 North Carolina.
The Longhorns captured the doubles point, which proved to be the difference in this match. The Longhorns and Tar Heels split the singles pool 3-3, ultimately making it a 4-3 victory for Texas. It was the Longhorns’ first win over a top-10 ranked opponent all season.
The first doubles match featured the Longhorns No. 3 nationally ranked tandem of juniors Rodrigo Banzer and Leonardo Telles against North Carolina’s No. 6 ranked duo of Blumberg and Kelly. Banzer and Telles showed up for a 6-3 victory that clinched the doubles point for the Longhorns.
Singles wins by junior Harrison Scott, Telles and Banzer gave the Longhorns the four points they needed.
Center has preached all season about how the Longhorns’ work on the practice courts needed to translate to the matches that count.
“I felt we were improving in practice,” Center said. “But until you get into a situation like this in a big match, you’re not quite sure. To see us come through like that made it a special day for us.”
Women dominate Buckeyes
After disappointing weather conditions forced the Longhorns to move into indoor courts at the Weller Tennis Center, Texas proceeded to dominate No. 11 Ohio State, regardless of venue.
After an announcement early Sunday morning said that the match would have to move indoors, Texas lost a sense of home field advantage being away from the Texas Tennis Center. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, this would also mean having to play a top-ranked team in their most comfortable environment.
“One of the things that was unfortunate for us was that we were playing a very good indoor team in Ohio State,” Texas women’s head coach Howard Joffe said. “It definitely presented us with some challenges after practicing all week in the good weather.”
Texas started off the match breaking Ohio State to win a competitive opening doubles point, a point that the Buckeyes are incredibly strong in. After starting 1-0, Texas freshman Marta Perez-Mur and No. 39 sophomore Anna Turati put impressive wins at No. 5 and No. 2 singles, respectively, to extend the Longhorns’ lead to 3-0.
Shortly there after, No. 54 freshman Petra Granic finished the match with a tight win at the No. 3 singles spot to put Texas up 4-0.
With a final score of 4-0, Texas kept Ohio State from putting up a single win. However Sunday’s matches were far from easy. After an extremely tight doubles session that came out in the Longhorns’ favor, the singles session forced competitive play out of every court.
“We’ll live to fight and play better tennis another day,” Joffe said. “But we have a very young team gaining confidence, winning doubles and closing out match. This was worth its weight.”