Following a pair of impressive conference wins, the Longhorns are ready to face off with an old rival.
The team is 6-0 in Big 12 play and ranked No. 13 in the country. Victories over the likes of top 25 teams such as Baylor and Texas Tech proved that these accolades are no fluke.
“Texas Tech came in undefeated in conference play this year and has been playing some great tennis with some very scrappy players,” said head coach Patty Fendick-McCain. “It is just a really good win to get at home.”
Sophomore Elizabeth Begley has emerged as of late, becoming a kind of backbone for the women. She currently holds an undefeated conference record and a 12-1 record overall after two wins last weekend.
“Elizabeth Begley was terrific out there [against Tech],” Fendick-McCain said.
Cierra Gaytan-Leach has earned numerous victories in doubles play this year, but her nail-biting victories in the last few matches have earned her attention for her singles play as well. She fought back from a third set deficit to clinch the match point for the team against Baylor and proceeded to do the same against Texas Tech the next day.
“I went down 3-0 and was kind of moping around a little bit and trying to keep my head up, but I told myself, ‘Okay, I know it is coming down to me and I have to do it for Texas,’” Gaytan-Leach said. “I stepped it up and everything went my way.”
Gaytan-Leach’s resolve did not go unnoticed.
“You could see the determination in her eyes when she came back out for the third set,” Fendick-McCain said. “I felt good about it. I just kind of sat back and enjoyed the third set because I felt really good about it.”
Veterans Krista Damico and Aeriel Ellis have buoyed the team’s charge all season long and not much more can be said about their impact. However, the bottom of the Longhorn’s lineup is filled with newcomers who are performing at a level impossible to miss.
“Lina [Padegimaite], Elizabeth [Begley] and Cierra [Gaytan-Leach] have been playing so great at four, five and six [singles],” Fendick-McCain said. “I thought those three matches were going to be over with pretty quickly today [against Baylor] because they’ve all been playing well.”
Padegimaite, a freshman for the Longhorns, currently holds 12 singles wins this year, putting her near the top on this solid team. But her doubles play may be the most impressive feat of her first season, as she and fellow freshman Noel Scott are ranked No. 42 in the country as a duo.
“They’ve worked so hard in the last couple of weeks to really get back on form, because they’ve struggled, but I thought it was great to see them clinch the point [against Baylor],” Fendick-McCain said. “That couldn’t have been better. It was awesome.”
With all of this momentum, the women will head to College Station for a battle with the Aggies.
Printed on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 as: Longhorns look to stay perfect against conference competition