University of Tulsa

The Longhorns ended what seemed like a promising run in the singles and doubles main draw rounds of the ITA Championships in Tulsa last weekend. Sophomore Soren Hess-Olesen, seniors Daniel Whitehead and Chris Camillone, and juniors Sudanwa Sitaram and David Holiner headlined the action for Texas.

Hess-Olesen started the singles main draw strong, defeating Michigan’s No. 31 Spencer Newman, 7-6, 6-4, and edging out All-American sophomore No. 5 Nik Scholtz of Ole Miss, 6-2, 7-5. He advanced to the third round of 16 of the main draw after the two wins Thursday. Hess-Olesen exited the tournament Friday with a loss to University of Tulsa’s Japle DeKlerk, 6-0, 6-2.

Whitehead made it through two rounds of the consolation singles draw before being knocked out by Tennessee’s Hunter Reese. Whitehead defeated Boise State’s Andrew Bettles, 6-2, 6-4 in the first round and outlasted LSU’s Olivier Borsos, 6-4, 6-3, in the second round before being knocked out by Reese Saturday.

Whitehead and Sitaram played impressively as they advanced through the doubles qualifying rounds in Tulsa. The duo won four straight en route to securing a spot in the consolation round, where they were finally defeated by University of Georgia’s Hemus Pieters and Ben Wagland, 8-3. The Longhorns’ doubles team of Holiner and Camillone, ranked as the No. 8 doubles team coming into the competition, defeated Oregon’s Robin Cambier and Jeff Mullen, 8-6, before losing in a close match to Tennessee’s Jarryd Chaplin and Mikelis Libietis, 9-8.

The Longhorns’ performance at the ITA Championships in Tulsa last weekend was a drastic improvement from their outing in the championships last year. The Longhorns had two singles players and two doubles teams in the main draw and consolation rounds this year compared to having no players participate in the main events in 2011.

On Saturday, the Longhorns trounced New Mexico 45-0. Hours before, Tulane University safety Devon Walker sustained a broken neck and a collapsed lung in a game against the University of Tulsa.

Injuries are nothing new to football. The latest player to take the sports world by storm, however, is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) . For those who may have missed the abundant coverage of the subject in recent years, CTE is a degenerative disease caused by repeated head trauma, often resulting in dementia, aggression and depression. It’s behind the NFL’s current “concussion crisis,” featured on ESPN but conspicuously absent from the Longhorn Network.

Football players at every level are at risk for CTE. Each year, in practice and in games, our beloved Longhorns are exposed to play after play in which they risk head injury, thereby increasing the likelihood that they’ll experience brain damage and premature death. The glorification they receive in return must be appealing, because they’re paying a significant physical price for it.

It’s not just UT’s enormous fan base that’s offering these players a taste of glory. Head coach Mack Brown is widely recognized as one of college football’s best recruiters. At least the defenders of his $2 million salary increase, pushing him to number one on the 2011 list of highest-paid college coaches, claim it as justification. rown is a powerful and persuasive figure.

I can only imagine how thrilling it must be, as a high school athlete, to be pursued by a big-name college like UT. Not possessing any athletic talent myself, I’ve never experienced the intense pressure of having an athletic program court me, but I’m sure it could get overwhelming very quickly. The prospect of fame and wealth, however distant, is part of the promise of high-level sports such football, whether explicitly discussed or not. It’s safe to assume excitement and hope floods into the (still healthy) mind of any football player skilled enough to be recruited by the University of Texas.

For that reason exactly, the UT recruitment staff needs to be straightforward about the risks of playing college ball. I would argue that Brown has an ethical obligation to remind potential players of the intense physical harm they may receive as a part of the UT football program, both immediate and further in the future. He should make it clear, for example, that in 2010 running back Tre Newton had to quit the team after sustaining multiple concussions. And then in 2011, amid constant migraines and other warning symptoms, safety Nolan Brewster did the same .

The immediacy of injury isn’t the only danger these players face, either. A few weeks ago, UT journalism professor Robert Jensen wrote a fiery article in the Austin Post decrying the Longhorn football program for neglecting its players in the academic sphere. He has a point. Only a small minority of UT players will go on to make a living playing professional football. Potential recruits have the right to hear just how slim those chances are, to bring some of the dizzying highs of recruitment season closer to the ground.

UT football is a long and exciting tradition. Just how long that tradition lasts will be determined by how the sport responds to the concussion crisis. It’s in Mack Brown’s best interest to make sure that UT does all it can to be ahead of the curve on this one. UT football’s success moving forward as an institution is directly proportional to the longevity of its players’ healthy, productive lives.

Walters is a Plan II junior from Houston.

Daniel Whitehead will represent Texas in this weekendÂ’s ITA All-American Championships singles draw.

Photo Credit: Fanny Trang | Daily Texan Staff

Texas hopes to continue building on the success of the fall season by recording some more wins at this weekend’s ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, Okla.

The entire team will be competing in the tournament, which starts Saturday and runs through Oct. 9 at the University of Tulsa.

“We have the chance to take all of our guys to Tulsa and get some experience at a big-time event,” said head coach Michael Center. “It’s another opportunity to challenge ourselves.”

Competing in the pre-qualifying round, which starts on Saturday, are juniors Alex Hilliard and Chris Camillone, sophomores David Holiner and Sudanwa Sitaram and freshman Jacoby Lewis. Camillone will face Mike Lampa of St. John’s in his first round match while the others have a first-round bye.

In the qualifying singles draw, Texas will be represented by juniors Ben Chen and Daniel Whitehead and freshman Soren Hess-Olesen.

Also appearing in the qualifying doubles draw is the team of Holiner and Hess-Olesen and the pairing of Chen and Whitehead.

Qualifying rounds start on Sunday.

“We’ve been training well and are looking for some great results [this weekend],” Center said.

Other Big 12 schools represented in the draw include Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.

The tournament is an annual event and is one of three national championship events on the college tennis calendar, along with the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships and the NCAA Championships.

Past ITA All-American tournament champions that have gone on and had success on the professional tennis tour include John Isner, Bob Bryan and James Blake.

Printed on September 30, 2011 as: Tournament sends Horns to Tulsa.