Jean Andersen

After a promising start to the season, Texas took a step back over the past three weeks. Losses to Ohio State, North Carolina, Southern California and Virginia have spoiled the Longhorns’ perfect season, but with conference play starting, they can regain their confidence and re-establish themselves as an elite team in a rugged Big 12.

With five teams in the top 30, conference play will give Texas a great opportunity to get the season back on track, starting today against Oklahoma. The Sooners are ranked No. 30 in the nation and are entering the match at 9-3 fresh off a 4-3 win over TCU after also suffering a loss to Virginia a week ago.

Texas’ most recent outing featured a loss to Virginia on Sunday and then a shutout win against St. Edwards that same night. The Longhorns’ doubles game has been amongst the best in the nation and will be key if they are to have success in conference. Led by the duo of senior Ed Corrie and junior Jean Andersen, Texas has won the last seven doubles points and has only dropped one all season ­­— to Illinois. While the doubles game play has been elite, its singles players haven’t been able to find the same kind of consistency. At the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in February, Corrie posted wins against multiple top-five opponents, but he has not been able to get back to that same level since. Fellow senior Kellen Damico stepped into the No. 2 slot and performed well in the lineup with Andersen out.

If it can live up to its potential in the singles game, Texas can once again be amongst the nation’s elite, but until then, Texas will rely on its doubles game to give it the lead in matches and pick up singles wins where it can get them.

———

No. 4 Texas at No. 10 Oklahoma
Date: Friday
Time: 6 p.m.
Place: Headington Family Tennis Center
(Norman, Okla.)

Men's Tennis

With a 4-3 win against No. 26 Florida State in Tallahassee, the Longhorns capped off a four-week stretch that featured three road matches against ranked opponents.

Texas’ doubles teams, led by Ed Corrie and Jean Andersen, have won all seven matches this season. The duos of Corrie and Andersen and Kellen Damico and David Holiner this time secured the doubles point for Texas. In singles, the Longhorns were able to keep the momentum going to solidify another win and remain undefeated this season.

“In singles, they jumped on us at Nos. 1 and 4. We ended up dropping those matches quickly and went down 2-1,” said head coach Michael Center.

Andersen used a straight set win to even up the match again, before sophomore Vasko Mladenov put Texas back on top.

“Jean Andersen did a good job and played very well, and Vasko got off his court to make it 3-2,” Center said.

Texas still needed to hold off Florida State and get one more win to take the match. That came from sophomore Daniel Whitehead with a three-set win to secure the victory for the team.

“Kellen Damico and Daniel Whitehead were out battling, and Daniel was able to get that last point we needed,” Center said.

With the win, Texas improves its record to 7-0 as it prepares for the ITA Indoor National Championships at the University of Washington this weekend. Before that, however, Texas will need to sharpen up its game in order to have the results they want.

“It was another hard-fought win for our guys,” Center said. “We’ve played in a lot of different environments and have been tested. We are happy to win, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
 

Texas had a busy yet successful couple of days at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Kick-Off Weekend in Austin. The Longhorns swept Hawaii 4-0 on Saturday and blanked Rice by the same score on Sunday.

The Hawaii meet started with another strong showing in doubles. Senior Ed Corrie and junior Jean Andersen jumped out of the gates with an 8-3 win, followed by a win by a pair of sophomores, Daniel Whitehead and Alex Hilliard.

With the double point in hand, Texas moved onto singles where senior Kellen Damico struck first with a two-set win. Whitehead and freshman Sudanwa Sitaram both won in straight sets as well.

Whitehead and Hilliard were down 3-0 before winning four out of the next five games for UT to take the doubles point.

“The doubles was in question for the first 25 or 30 minutes, and then we made some plays and got that point,” said Texas head coach Michael Center. “I was really pleased with the mental toughness and the attitude we had out there today.”

Rice was more competitive in singles play, but UT drew first blood for Texas when Sitaram won the opening match. Andersen followed with another straight set win. Sophomore Vasko Mladenov finished off the Owls with another two-set win to give Texas the 4-0 sweep. Texas has now qualified for the championships in Seattle next month.

“We want to play in the tournament,” Center said. “That’s where the best teams are, and we feel like we’re one of those best teams.”
 

Texas experienced its fair share of highs and lows this weekend. Senior Ed Corrie and junior Jean Andersen had a strong showing at the ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, and the other members of the team had a few mixed results at the Texas Invitational.

The unseeded duo of Corrie and Andersen advanced to the semifinals of the event where they fell to Mississippi’s fourth-seeded doubles team.

“Ed and Jean are proving they are one of the better doubles teams in college tennis,” head coach Michael Center said.

Corrie and Andersen fell in the first set 6-3 but took their opponents to a tiebreak in the second set where they eventually lost.

“Each team held its serve throughout the second set, and once we got to the tiebreak, it was a couple of points here and there that made the difference,” Corrie said. “They played well on those big points and executed slightly better than us.”

Despite a disappointing result in the semis, Corrie and Andersen likely turned a few heads with their play, and made big strides toward become a championship caliber team.

“In our first couple of matches we took chances to break our opponent and did that really well,” Corrie said. “That was one of our biggest strengths. We battled well in our service games and won some big points.”

Back in Austin at the Texas Invitational, the theme of the weekend continued with the doubles teams trumping the singles performances. In the singles draws, Texas wasn’t able to make much noise. Only redshirt freshman David Holiner and redshirt sophomore Alex Hilliard are able to advance in the consolation draws to the semifinals and finals, respectively.

In doubles play however, the Longhorns fared much better by setting up an all-Texas final between the teams of senior Kellen Damico and Holiner, and sophomores Ben Chen and Daniel Whitehead. Both teams were able to put together strong semifinal matches against a pair of teams from Texas A&M. Chen and Whitehead wound up winning the familiar final in a close match that went down to the final game.

“Ben and Daniel played really, really well this weekend, especially today,” said Texas assistant coach Ricardo Rubio, “They were putting on an exhibition with their returns and their volleys, and they earned their wins today.”

Over the weekend, the Texas men’s tennis team participated in the ITA Texas Regional Championships with berths in the ITA Indoor Championships next month at stake. The highlight of the tournament for Texas came when the team of Jean Andersen and Ed Corrie were able to take home the doubles championship, and with it, an automatic spot in the 16 team doubles draw at the ITA Indoor Championships that begin in just a week.

They were able to fend off the fourth ranked team in the nation, and then come back from losing the first set to win the final match in three sets. “Jean and Ed work really well together,” head coach Michael Center said of his championship caliber duo. “They made some great plays when they needed them. I’m really happy for those guys.”

Now Corrie and Andersen will have an opportunity to take home some more hardware next month at the second of three national championship opportunities of the season. Senior Kellen Damico and redshirt freshman David Holiner just missed an opportunity to play their teammates in the final match after losing the semifinal by the score of 9-8.

Andersen and Corrie were able to win the doubles championship after both losing in the round of sixteen in close three set matches. As for Kellen and Holiner, they were also able to rebound after loses in the singles draw to both make it to the consolation finals match, though they did not play the final match.

“They suffered early losses in the main singles draw, but they played hard in the back (consolation) draw,” Center said of his steadily improving team. “They served for the match in the doubles semifinal, and thought they did not win the match, it was evident they had really improved by the end of the draw.”

The men’s tennis team will be busy over the next week in preparation for the ITA Indoor Championship starting on November 4th.

“[Andersen and Corrie] deserve the opportunity to play in New City at the USTA National Tennis Center.” Center said of his championship caliber duo, and their opportunity to play in the world class facilities in New York. Until then, they will be hard at work to make sure that they are able to retain their focus and improve on their play that has gotten them this far.

Over the weekend, the Texas men’s tennis team participated in the ITA Texas Regional Championships with berths in the ITA Indoor Championships next month at stake. The highlight of the tournament for Texas came when the team of Jean Andersen and Ed Corrie were able to take home the doubles championship, and with it, an automatic spot in the 16 team doubles draw at the ITA Indoor Championships that begin in just a week.

They were able to fend off the fourth ranked team in the nation, and then come back from losing the first set to win the final match in three sets. “Jean and Ed work really well together,” head coach Michael Center said of his championship caliber duo. “They made some great plays when they needed them. I’m really happy for those guys.”

Now Corrie and Andersen will have an opportunity to take home some more hardware next month at the second of three national championship opportunities of the season. Senior Kellen Damico and redshirt freshman David Holiner just missed an opportunity to play their teammates in the final match after losing the semifinal by the score of 9-8.

Andersen and Corrie were able to win the doubles championship after both losing in the round of sixteen in close three set matches. As for Kellen and Holiner, they were also able to rebound after loses in the singles draw to both make it to the consolation finals match, though they did not play the final match.

“They suffered early losses in the main singles draw, but they played hard in the back (consolation) draw,” Center said of his steadily improving team. “They served for the match in the doubles semifinal, and thought they did not win the match, it was evident they had really improved by the end of the draw.”

The men’s tennis team will be busy over the next week in preparation for the ITA Indoor Championship starting on November 4th.

“[Andersen and Corrie] deserve the opportunity to play in New City at the USTA National Tennis Center.” Center said of his championship caliber duo, and their opportunity to play in the world class facilities in New York. Until then, they will be hard at work to make sure that they are able to retain their focus and improve on their play that has gotten them this far.

At first, Jean Andersen does not seem any different than the other members of the Texas men’s tennis team.

The junior is trying to help lead Texas to another conference championship and another trip to the NCAA Championships this spring. But what sets Andersen apart is the fact that he may have more in common with a member of the men’s golf team than anyone on the tennis team. Andersen, like fellow junior Dylan Frittelli, hales from Pretoria, South Africa, and both are prominent players for each team.

“When I first got here, they were probably expecting a black kid,” Andersen said of his arrival on campus last January, where he helped Texas to win first place in the Big 12 Conference. “They kind of made fun of my accent at first.”

Andersen has gotten support from his teammates early on in his career.

“Obviously, he speaks great English, but he comes up with some ridiculous pronunciations,” said senior Ed Corrie.

Andersen receives encouragement from his teammates while trying to become fully acclimated with a more permanent life here at the University. However, he’s not completely unfamiliar with life here; Andersen used to live in Austin when he was a kid, and his father got his doctorate from UT. But despite his obvious connections, Texas wasn’t Andersen’s first collegiate choice.

“He was actually initially going to go to the University of Illinois, and there were some issues there,” said head coach Michael Center. “We didn’t know Jean really, and we got an e-mail from him that he was looking to go to school. I found out that he had ties to the University of Texas, and it just turned out to be a good fit for both of us.”

Despite almost playing more than 1,000 miles away in Illinois, Andersen has quickly gotten very comfortable and has had little trouble getting settled into his new home here in Austin.
“People here are very similar [to people in South Africa], it makes it pretty easy,” Andersen said.

His whole family still lives in South Africa, but that has not made Andersen feel any unease about getting used to Austin. He’s had a lot of help from friends and coaches to make Austin his new home.

“I never get homesick,” Andersen said. “Sometimes I just want to hang out with friends, but I don’t really feel like I want to go home.”

The fact that the team is so multi-cultural has helped Andersen feel comfortable.

“We’ve got an eclectic group — guys from all over the world,” Center said, referring to a Texas roster that includes players from England, India, Bulgaria, Texas and Colorado. So Andersen being from South Africa doesn’t make him any different from any of the other guys on the team.

“It helps him by being around all the cultural differences,” Corrie said.

When Andersen arrived on campus during the spring semester of last season, he won his very first collegiate match, which would be the first of many wins for him.
“He’s very aggressive at the net. He makes a lot of bold moves on the doubles court,” Corrie said.

Corrie and Andersen began playing together to start this season, and they’ve really started to mesh into an effective duo. His head coach also had some strong adjustments regarding Andersen’s play.

“He’s a super athlete and is an explosive guy,” Center said. “When he puts pressure on you and does it with consistency, he’s really hard to beat.”

Though he’s only been around the program for a few months, he has already made strong impressions with those involved with the program.

”Jean is a very likeable guy, good fun, always very happy and positive, and he’s great to have on the team,” Corrie said.

Andersen knows he plays a key role on the team. But he can still count on his team to keep him grounded with such things as [reminding] him of his African roots, and one particular mistake that Corrie described as the biggest blunder ever.

Regardless of how they’re doing it, his teammates and coaches are making him feel at home, and in return, he will help the Longhorns in what the team hopes to be another successful year.