Texas toughs one out in Ann Arbor behind Chen

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Texas rolled into Ann Arbor, Mich., over the weekend after dominating its previous two matches. Michigan proved to be a tougher opponent for the Longhorns, but Texas still won 4-3 against the Wolverines.

The Longhorns began the match with strong performances from all three doubles teams and swept Michigan for the doubles points. The fifth-ranked tandem of Ed Corrie and Jean Andersen kicked things off with an 8-4 result against Michigan’s top team. Kellen Damico and David Holiner, as well as Ben Chen and Vasko Mladenov, also had impressive wins of 8-5 and 8-4, respectively.

“I thought we played very well in doubles,” said Texas head coach Michael Center.

Texas has won the doubles points in all three of its matches this year. That kind of consistency gives the Longhorns an early lead in their matches and proved to be the difference against the Wolverines.

Though this is a Texas team that has plenty of experience, a pair of underclassmen came through in crunch time to get the win.

Senior Damico and sophomore Mladenov both won their matches to give Texas a 3-1 lead, but Michigan fought back.

“I felt good going into singles, but Michigan started taking it to us. We got on our heels and never recovered at a few spots,” Center said. “I give Michigan a lot of credit.”

The Wolverines battled back with two more victories which put the match in the hands of sophomore Ben Chen. In a three-set match, Chen prevailed 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 to give Texas the win.

“Ben has worked really hard, and he has clinched all three of our matches this year,” Center said. “There were some key points in that third set, but he played tough and came through in the end. It was another great match for Ben.”

It was the first hint of adversity Texas faced so far this season. Previously, the Longhorns had been tearing opposing teams apart, but not Michigan. The match will serve as a primer as the team heads back to Austin this week for the ITA Kick-Off Weekend at Texas’ Penick-Allison Tennis Center. The Longhorns return to the court again on Saturday versus Hawaii.