Much like how the Thanksgiving football game between Texas and Texas A&M came down to the final play, the showdown between the two rivals on Saturday came down to one match to determine who would walk away with the Lone Star Showdown trophy and final bragging rights.
After being down 2-5 in the final set of the deciding match, junior Ben Chen fought back and earned the win, giving No. 17 Texas the 4-3 win over No. 27 Texas A&M in the final conference match between the in-state rivals.
Starting the duel off were the doubles matches. Chen and junior Daniel Whitehead took on John Lewis and Niall Angus at the number two doubles line. Texas got the break on the Aggies’ second service game and then got another break up 4-2. Chen and Whitehead used solid net play to hold the rest of the match, allowing Whitehead to serve it out for the 8-4 win.
In singles, Hess-Olesen got the second point for Texas after he defeated Ore by a 7-6 (4), 6-2 count.
Posting the third point for the Longhorns was Holiner, with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Jeremy Efferding in singles.
The Aggies retaliated by getting a win at the number two singles line to put a point on the board. Whitehead fell to Klegou, 6-7 (4), 2-6.
The Aggies continued building on their point total with another win from Lewis over freshman Lloyd Glasspool at the number five singles line. Glasspool fought back from 0-3 down in the first set, to take it 6-4, but dropped the next two sets to give Lewis the 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 win.
In the match that could potentially tie up the score, sophomore Sudanwa Sitaram got off to a fast start, winning the first three games of the opening set against Hoover before taking the set 6-2. In the second set, Sitaram got down early and had to fight his way back to force a tiebreaker, which he lost. In the third set, Sitaram couldn’t hang on and dropped the set 2-6 to give the Aggies their third point, tying Texas.
In the deciding match at the number six singles line, Chen got the break, the match and the team victory for the Longhorns, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.
“I got off to a slow start at the beginning of the third set,” Chen said. “But with the support of my teammates and coaches I was able to get it done. Tonight was just a team effort all the way through.”