The Longhorns could barely watch on Saturday as sophomore Rodrigo Banzer battled Wake Forest’s Alan Gadjiev in Charlottesville, Virginia in a nail-biting final set.
The winner would send his team to the semifinals of the ITA Indoor Championship. For Banzer, the situation was all too familiar, but the outcome wasn’t what anyone had hoped.
Banzer entered the match against No. 2 Wake Forest as the hero. The Bolivian secured the final point on Friday for No. 10 Texas in its 4-2 upset of No. 7 Florida in the opening round.
Sophomore Harrison Scott and freshman Yuya Ito secured the doubles point, defeating Florida’s Maxx Lipman and Josh Wardell, 6-2.
The Longhorns stayed hot in singles play as Scott blew out Elliott Orkin 6-2, 6-1 for the second point. Sophomore Leonardo Telles dominated McClain Kessler, giving Texas a 3-0 lead with a 6-3, 6-3 victory.
But Florida wasn’t ready to go home. The Gators won two straight matches to make it a 3-2 score. Banzer stopped the bleeding for the Longhorns, besting Jordan Belga 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 for the final point despite trailing 2-5 in the third set.
“Florida wouldn’t go away,” head coach Michael Center said. “They had us against the wall, but I was really impressed by Banzer’s mental toughness and the way he came back.”
The Longhorns came out cold against Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons edged out Texas in doubles play, taking an early 1-0 lead.
Senior George Goldhoff struggled against Skander Mansouri, falling 2-6, 2-6. Wake Forest’s Petros Chrysochos extended the lead to 3-0 by trouncing freshman Christian Sigsgaard 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.
With the team on the brink of defeat, Texas responded. Ito put the Longhorns on the board with a 7-6, 7-6 win over Christian Seraphim. Scott gave Texas its second point after defeating Borna Gojo 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Telles tied it up at three with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 victory over Wake Forest’s Dennis Uspensky. It all came down to Banzer once again.
“We played an incredible match,” Center said. “It came down to the last set, and it was a great team effort by the guys. The bounce of the ball just didn’t go our way.”
Texas rebounded with a 4-2 win over No. 11 Oklahoma State Sunday in a consolation match. After losing the doubles point, the Longhorns won four of the first five
Goldhoff sealed the win over the Cowboys with a 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 takedown of Oklahoma State’s Lukas Finzelberg.
“This was a great win and a good tournament overall,” Center said. “We’re disappointed we didn’t get to play in the semifinals, but we have a lot of tennis in front of us.”