Tennis

In her time at Texas, senior Lina Padegimaite has made almost all A’s while leading the women’s tennis team.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Lina Padegimaite’s mind is almost always on her academics. In the training room, mid-treatment, Padegimaite peers closely at the notebook on her lap, focusing intently. 

The senior tennis player said she never imagined playing a college sport and making good grades would be as time-consuming as it is. Padegimaite, a native of Lithuania, learned to juggle school and tennis early on in her life and does not procrastinate as a rule. The discipline she practices in all areas of her life has paid off — Padegimaite has never had to pull an all-nighter for classes.

“I’m trying to get my schoolwork done before 11, so I have to make sure I get enough sleep to endure the practice tomorrow — because if you’re sleepless and you come into a Texas weight session or conditioning, that’s not going to last,” Padegimaite said.

Padegimaite calls herself “that” front-row student with her hand constantly raised or writing down notes.

“I can’t do the computer thing — I always handwrite,” Padegimaite said. “People still make fun of me because I’m graduating college with all A’s and one A-minus, and I can’t type without looking at the keyboard.”

Padegimaite, who will graduate in the spring with a degree in exercise science, was recently named to the Academic All-Big 12 Women’s Tennis Team for the third-consecutive year. Her academic productivity has even transferred to her friends, who have picked up some of her traits.

“I used to stay up late [finishing homework], but I haven’t really since I started living with her,” said astronomy senior Sarafina Nance, Padegimaite’s roommate. “Living in that environment inspires me to put more effort into my fitness and classes.”

Padegimaite has also found success on the court. Through her four years at Texas, she has earned Big 12 Conference Freshman of the Year, All-Big 12 Doubles and even a Big 12 title in No. 5 singles. This season alone, the senior has proved her leadership on the team. Against Michigan State, in what Padegimaite called the highlight of her senior year, she overcame a huge deficit to bring the only points to Texas’ scoreboard.

“I was in this match where I was down in the third-set tiebreaker 9–1, and I came back to win it 11–9,” Padegimaite said. “I had to win 10 points in a row, which is pretty hard in any tennis game. Tennis is a huge mental game more than physical. For me, it’s about relying on my own skills and going for it, instead of holding back.”

This weekend, Texas faced its last two opponents of the regular season, Kansas and Kansas State, in Austin.

“It’s sad and exciting at the same time because I am an emotional person,” Padegimaite said. “When I step out on that court, knowing it’s my last match, I know I can get emotional, but I still have to do my job and get the win for the team.”

For Padegimaite, finishing college doesn’t mean closing the chapter at UT. She will be pursuing physical therapy at Texas State after she graduates but said she wants to stay connected to the community.

“I don’t think I’m going to end with this match or end with me graduating,” Padegimaite said. “There is a Texas Exes Association that can keep me involved and be a part of the Texas family forever.” 

Kinesiology lecturer Michael Sanders described Padegimaite as one of his best students. His wife, Barbara, is a chair in the physical therapy department at Texas State, where Padegimaite plans to study.

“I have an insight into all the things that being a physical therapist entails, and Lina is a unique individual that will excel at it,” Sanders said.

Texas recognized Padegimaite on Sunday for Senior Day before the match against Kansas, in which Texas toppled the Jayhawks, 4–0. And this weekend, Texas travels to Waco for the Big 12 Championship, where Padegimaite looks to end her college career with another highlight. 

“I’m not trying to put a lot of pressure on myself or anything,” Padegimaite said. “[I’ll] perform with pride and know this is an opportunity for me to shine. I’m just going to go all out like I always do.”

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Men's tennis

No. 10 Texas men’s tennis will conclude its regular season schedule Saturday against No. 7 TCU. The road match is the Longhorn’s last match prior to the Big 12 Championships on April 24th. 

Saturday’s match will mark the Longhorns’ fifth conference match in seven matches, with all five conference matches coming against ranked opponents. 

“We play a very tough schedule in the Big 12, and, in my opinion, we play in the toughest conference in the country,” senior Adrien Berkowicz said. “Playing a schedule like this is difficult, but it prepares us for the opponents we’ll play in the Big 12 Championships and the national championships as well.” 

The Horned Frogs will provide the Longhorns with one of their most difficult tests in a season that has been full of serious competition. TCU has won 10 of their last 11 matches, including a 4–0 sweep of No. 6 Texas A&M on April 11. 

With five victories thus far against teams ranked in the top 15 of the ITA rankings, Texas has proved to be a team worthy of competing for a Big 12 title, as well as a possible national title. First, they will face off against TCU on Saturday in Fort Worth. 

— Michael Shapiro

Men's and women's track and field

The Texas men’s and women’s track teams will compete in the Michael Johnson Invitational this weekend, hoping to improve an already successful season. 

Redshirt sophomore Chris Irvin is one of many Longhorns who took home a win from last year’s event in Waco. Irvin edged out the competition in the 200 meters with a time of 21.84 seconds. Sophomore Wolf Mahler also took part in the team’s victory with a title in the 110-meter hurdles. Another hurdler, junior Melissa Gonzalez, made the podium after winning the
400-meter hurdles.

The invitational last year was the final meet at the Hart-Patterson Track and Field Complex. This year, the event will take place at Clyde Hart Track and Field Stadium in Waco, the $18.1 million facility that is currently in its inaugural season. 

The Longhorns, who sit ranked No. 3 in the women’s ranking and No. 6 in the men’s rankings, hope to build on the momentum they attained from sweeping the Texas Invitational last weekend and move up in the rankings before the Big 12 championships next month. 

— Bradley Maddox

Following back-to-back sweeps against out-of-conference opponents , No. 10 men’s tennis will square off against No. 2 Baylor at the Caswell Tennis Center in Austin on Wednesday. Both teams are currently 2–1 in the conference and trail No. 1 Oklahoma by one match in the Big 12 standings. 

Wednesday’s match will feature two of the preeminent tennis players in the nation as No. 5 Søren Hess-Olesen will take the court for Texas against Baylor’s No. 2 Julian Lenz. Lenz, a junior from Giessen, Germany, won four of his previous five matches before falling to Oklahoma’s Axel Alvarez on Friday with three of those wins coming against ranked opponents. 

Texas’ contest against Baylor will carry extra weight for Hess-Olesen. The match will provide him an opportunity to secure his 100th victory at the singles position as a Longhorn. Hess-Olesen, who is looking to become the ninth player in the Longhorns’ history to reach 100 singles victories, has been stuck at 99 wins since his victory over Texas Tech on April 4. 

With two matches left before the Big 12 Championships on April 24, Texas will look to secure its position near the top of the conference standings. 

Although she posted a strong first season in the fall, freshman libero Cat McCoy might not see action this spring after re-aggravating a foot injury during the USA Volleyball tryouts.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Men's golf

The No. 2 men’s golf team returned to action this weekend, finishing in fourth place at the 3M Augusta Invitational. 

Freshman Scottie Scheffler, who led the team for the first time this season, birdied five times on the final round to record a personal best 12-under par (67–70–67) and land in second place on the individual leaderboard.

As a team, the Longhorns finished six strokes short of first-place finisher New Mexico, which finished 26-under par.

Sophomore Beau Hossler and freshman Doug Ghim tied for 20th place, each with a 3-under-par 213 over the three rounds. Senior Kramer Hickok came in 42nd with a 218, and sophomore Gavin Hall rounded out the Longhorns with a 222 for 54th place.

The team continues its season next weekend in Santa Cruz, California at the Western Intercollegiate.

Men's tennis

After 15 years at the head of the Longhorns’ program, head coach Michael Center secured his 300th win when No. 9 Texas defeated No. 21 Texas Tech by a score of 4–1 Saturday. 

The Longhorns got off to a rocky start as they lost the doubles point for the 10th time this season. But the Texas deficit didn’t last long as the Longhorns rallied with four consecutive victories at the singles positions, highlighted by a hard-fought 7–6, 0–6, 6–1 victory by senior Clement Homs, which improves his season record to 5–0.

Following the victory over Texas Tech, Center’s new record at Texas stands at 300–105. In addition to his .741 winning percentage, Center has coached 16 ITA All-Americans and has won Big 12 Coach of the Year four times throughout his career with the Longhorns. 

“I’m proud of the student-athletes I’ve had, not only this year, but in the past, that have made contributions to our program while they were here and after their graduation,” Center said. “It has been very gratifying, and I’m looking forward to many more with this group.”

Texas will continue its four-match home stand Tuesday against unranked UTSA at the Caswell Tennis Center in Austin.

Track and field

Texas track and field didn’t send many runners to California for the Stanford Invitational, but the ones who went were successful on the long trip.

Friday represented the only running action for the Longhorns. Senior Craig Lutz and sophomore Sandie Raines led the group of distance runners from Texas in the team’s first performance since the 88th Nike Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays.

Raines ran the 5,000 meters in a time of 15:48.04, just 36 seconds off the school’s top mark Marielle Hall set last year. Lutz posted the school’s second best time in history in the 10,000 meters with a time of 28:33.48. His time is just 14 seconds off the University’s top mark.

The Longhorns have a chance for some home cooking at the Texas Invitational this weekend in Austin. The meet begins Saturday morning with the women’s hammer throw at 10 a.m. and will conclude with the highly anticipated men’s 4x400-meter relay Saturday evening.

Volleyball

It might only be the spring season, but Amy Neal was in midseason form Friday night.

The junior outside hitter posted 22 kills, 15 digs and three aces in a 4–1 Texas win over SMU, the team’s first victory of the spring.

Texas dropped the opening set of the match despite outhitting SMU .267 to .191. But the Longhorns dominated from that point on. They held the Mustangs to a negative hitting percentage in the second set and took the remaining three sets with an average hitting percentage of .317.

Sophomore middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu, who was named to the NCAA Division I All-Tournament team in the fall, recorded a team-high .522 hitting percentage along with 14 kills and nine blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Paulina Prieto Cerame finished the night with 12 kills and 16 digs. 

Junior outside hitter Cailin Bula led the Mustangs with 11 kills and nine digs and junior setter Avery Acker posted 23 digs.

The Longhorns will be back in action this weekend at the F.A.S.T. Complex Collegiate Invite in Houston. Texas returns to Gregory Gym for its last match of the spring season on April 24. The team will play against UTSA. 

Women's tennis

In the first-ever matchup between the two teams, the Ohio State Buckeyes toppled the Longhorns, 4–1.

The Buckeyes started off strong, swiftly taking the doubles point.

The Texas sophomore tandem, Pippa Horn and Neda Koprcina, fell to its competition on court three and Ohio State clinched the doubles point on court one. Ohio State’s No. 44-ranked pair of sophomores, Gabrielle De Santis and Sandy Niehaus, defeated the Texas duo of junior Breaunna Addison and senior Lina Padegimaite in a 6–2 decision.

Freshmen Ryann Foster and Dani Wagland held their own on the second court before play was suspended.

In singles competition, No. 47 Addison, the Professional Tennis Registry Female Player of the Year, posted a victory over her Ohio State competitor, De Santis. Addison added a fifth-straight singles win with this triumph, ending De Santis’ win streak at Ohio State’s No. 1 singles position.

On the other courts, Texas struggled to win a set against Ohio State. Koprcina dropped a 6–1, 6–1 decision to Niehaus on court three, allowing Niehaus to seal her eighth-straight singles victory.  

Foster and Wagland fell to their competition, freshman Anna Sanford and sophomore Miho Kowase, on the second and fifth courts. Padegimaite’s and Horn’s matches were both suspended following Ohio State’s victories on the other courts.

Over the weekend, Texas added two new games to their schedule, including an upcoming match against Abilene Christian University at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Whitaker Tennis Courts.

 I would like to offer a significantly different perspective from the recent Firing Lines by Bobby French and John Stephen Taylor, neither of whom I know.

My mother introduced me to tennis at Eastwoods Park just north of UT in 1945, when I was 9 years old. After 2 weeks she turned me over to Daniel Penick, the longtime UT tennis coach (over 50 years) on Saturday mornings. When Caswell Tennis Center opened a short time later, I spent my youth through my years at Austin High there almost every day. Then, in 1954, when I enrolled in Plan II at UT, I was on the freshman team. My senior year, 1958, I was captain. I got to play under Penick and my junior and senior years under Coach Wilmer Allison (only the second tennis coach in the school’s history). My junior year I got to play with Dave Snyder (a senior), who became the third coach for the next 29 years. The original courts where I played were on the north end of Memorial Stadium and were clay.

The tennis alumni had a meeting in October to discuss the situation with athletic director Steve Patterson. We were told that we, the alumni, needed to raise $15,000,000 before construction could begin. Meanwhile one of the best collegiate teams in the country must work out at the Intramural Fields, where there are no stands, no dressing rooms and no scoreboards. Contrary to the information given by Taylor, the new facility will not be built at the Intramural Fields, from what I have been told. One other point that needs to be addressed: Taylor asks, “Where has Coach [Michael] Center been?” I must point out that Center is not in a position to make a decision. He has more than enough to do to coach some of the finest young men that have ever represented the University of Texas tennis team.

They are students, gentlemen on the court and winners. I, and the alums, could not be prouder of the team and the coaches. Now I hope the University officials who have the power and the money to make the decisions will act with due speed to bring about a solution to this unjust and inexcusable situation.

— Laurence A. Becker, Ph.D., captain of the UT Tennis Team (1958), assistant coach (1962-1964), in response to Bobby French’s Tuesday Firing Line titled “Texas Tennis deserves proper home” and John Stephen Taylor’s Wednesday Firing Line titled “Texas Tennis fan got it right.”

Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

Texas track and field heads to Stanford

Coming off the high of Texas Relays, the track and field team looks to keep the momentum rolling in a trip to Stanford, California, for the Stanford Invitational.

The meet, which begins Friday, will be the second chance for the majority of the team to make their mark on the outdoor season after putting up a solid performance this past weekend in Austin. Junior Morolake Akinosun was named athlete of the meet for her efforts in helping the Texas women pick up three victories.

Junior Katie Burford, who set her personal best in the 1500 meters with a time of 4:34.79 at last year’s Stanford Invitational, looks to improve upon that career best on what is known as a “fast track” by locals.

In outdoor season, it’s always important to keep an eye on local weather, as poor conditions can affect the athletes in a big way. The weather should be ideal out on the California coast as sun and 70-degree temperatures are in the forecast.

Stanford, which won its last national championship in 2000, plays host to the country’s track and field athletes. With head coach Chris Miltenberg at the helm, the Cardinal is ranked 14th in the country on the men’s side and 12th on the women’s.

The Texas men head into the affair ranked fifth in the country, and the women enter ranked third.

Men's tennis begins four-match home stand against Red Raiders

Coming off a 4–1 loss to No. 1 Oklahoma on Sunday, No. 9 Texas will begin its four-match home stand, starting against unranked Texas Tech on Saturday at the Caswell Tennis Center in Austin. All four matches will come against unranked opponents, and the Longhorns will look to improve upon their 15–3 record before the Big 12 Men’s Tennis Championship later this month.

Despite reaching No. 7 in the nation, their highest ITA ranking, on March 24 following their win against UT-Pan American, the Longhorns have struggled lately, narrowly defeating No. 22 Oklahoma State and falling to No. 1 Oklahoma last weekend.

The team’s drop-off in play has been most notable in the singles positions, especially from the Longhorns’ No. 1 singles player, Søren Hess–Olesen. Hess–Olesen reached the No. 1 overall singles ranking in the most recent ITA polls but subsequently lost his next two matches, both in straight sets.

With a top-10 overall ranking in the nation, the Longhorns are still contenders for a Big 12 championship, as well as a national title. In order to contend with the top teams in the nation, Texas looks to get back in the win column starting Saturday.

I would like to briefly comment on the Firing Line submitted by Bobby French, identified as a Texas Tennis fan and resident of Austin, which appeared in Tuesday’s Texan.

First and foremost, I wish to absolutely agree with the sentiments expressed by Mr./Ms. French. It is difficult to understand why the “powers that be” would divert home tennis team matches (both male and female) to venues that are not reachable by UT shuttle or any other buses. As a fierce and longtime fan of our home team, I am troubled that a majority of students who might wish to attend, but have no car, cannot do so. 

The original courts have been demolished to make way for a parking garage, which I lament although I support the medical school. 

However, one correction I would like to make to the letter published: I personally asked UT’s athletic director, Steve Patterson, what the future would bring and was told a new tennis stadium would be built at the Intramural Fields location, which is accessible via UT shuttle and several other bus routes.

That being said, I cannot more eloquently express the writer’s own words, so I will repeat them: “The University should be ashamed of the way the Texas tennis teams and their fans have been treated this season.”  My only question is: where has Coach Mike Center been all this time?  On the road?

— John Stephen Taylor, government alumnus, in response to the Tuesday Firing Line titled “Texas Tennis deserves proper home.”

Photo Credit: Jessica Lin | Daily Texan Staff

On March 24, it was announced by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association that University of Texas tennis player Søren Hess-Olesen had reached the pinnacle of tennis rankings: the No. 1 male singles tennis player in the nation. The ironic thing is that Hess-Olesen and his talented Longhorn teammates (who were also announced March 24 as the seventh-ranked team in the country!) do not have a home stadium to play their outdoor matches in this season.

The men’s and women’s tennis teams started the home season playing at the Edgar O. and Melanie A. Weller Tennis Center indoor facility several miles away from campus in Steiner Ranch, and since outdoor season got under way, they have been forced to play outdoor matches west of campus at the Caswell Tennis Center, a historic municipal recreation facility that is anything but fan-friendly. In fact, several of the courts are not viewable from the grandstand, and there are no locker room facilities for the players. 

Imagine how visiting teams react to that.

Some outdoor matches are even farther west of campus at the Westwood Country Club near Mount Bonnell or at the Intramural Fields near 51st Street north of campus.

The Penick-Allison Tennis Center was the University’s former men’s and women’s home tennis stadium for almost 30 years until it was demolished after last season to make way for the Dell Medical School. Imagine that happening to any other UT athletic team. If the football or baseball or basketball stadiums were torn down, there would have been years of preparation to ensure the team would seamlessly transition to a new and improved facility. But this has not happened with the Texas tennis teams, and no announcement has been made about constructing a new tennis facility.

The University should be ashamed of the way the Texas tennis teams and their fans have been treated this season. This is unacceptable and definitely not the meaning of “We Are Texas.”

— Bobby French, Texas Tennis fan and resident of Austin.

Gregory Gym to become home venue for Austin Aces during 2015 season

Gregory Gymnasium has primarily played host to basketball and volleyball, but this summer it will add indoor tennis to the list.

The Austin Aces, out of Mylan World TeamTennis, announced Monday that it would play its seven home matches in Gregory Gym after playing at the Cedar Park Center last year.

“We are thrilled to have been able to find a downtown home in Gregory Gym on the UT campus as the Aces work to become Austin’s premier professional sports brand and the must-attend sporting event each summer,” Aces owner Lorne Abony said in a press release.

Abony said that getting a downtown venue was something they found while evaluating the team over the offseason both on and off the court.

“From feedback we received and the analysis that was done by our front office, we felt that a relocation to a venue located closer to the city center would be in our team’s best interest,” Albony said.

While Gregory seats 4,000 people for volleyball, the Aces said that capacity for tennis matches will be over 3,500 along with VIP tables and courtside seating.

The Aces went 6-8 in its inaugural season last year, finishing third in the Western Conference. Austin is led by former world No. 1 Andy Roddick, who also resides in the area. The roster also includes two former NCAA champions as well as the second-ranked Russian on the ATP Tour, Teymur Gabashvili.  The team is coached by nine-time Grand Slam doubles champion Rick Leach.

The Aces open up their 2015 season July 13 on the road at the Boston Lobsters and will play their first home match on July 16 against the California Dream.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

After facing tough opponents back-to-back all season, Texas women’s tennis might get their first break this weekend.

Texas defeated its only unranked opponent this season, Yale, early last week 4–0 and will travel north to try and continue that success against Iowa State and West Virginia.

No. 32 Texas is 2–2 in conference play, including a significant win in the Big 12 kick-starter game against then-No. 23 Oklahoma. The Sooners are the only team that Texas has defeated on the road so far this season.

Friday, the Horns will travel to Iowa to face the Cyclones, who are also 2–2 in the conference. Iowa State is coming off a hard-fought win (4–3) against Kansas State and has multiple conference victories for the first time in four years.

Iowa State junior Alejandra Galvis is 10–2 in dual singles matches this season, including a current seven-game win streak that she’ll look to continue against Texas. Galvis will most likely face-off against Texas junior No. 47 Breaunna Addison, who is 3–2 at No. 1 in singles.

Sunday morning, the Horns will play the Mountaineers in West Virginia. The two teams have met twice before, and both meetings ended in victory for Texas. West Virginia is 0–3 against Big 12 opponents so far this season, including a loss to Iowa State.