Arguably the two deepest men’s tennis teams in the country met Thursday as the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes rolled into town with a 16–1 record, looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season to No. 19 Texas A&M on Monday. Meanwhile, No. 4 Texas sought to avenge its only loss of the season when the Buckeyes swept the Longhorns in the semifinals of the ITA National Indoor Championships.
In the end, it would be Texas who would take the match, 4-1 — just over 24 hours after former head coach Michael Center was fired — dealing the Buckeyes their first doubles point loss all year. Texas also won three of the first four singles matches played before Texas’ Leonardo Telles clinched the match by coming from behind to take the final two sets and beat No. 69 Martin Joyce, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
“Man, did they compete,” newly appointed head coach Bruce Berque said. “That’s been the signature of this team all year. Colin Markes lost his first match of the season, and other guys stepped up … it was all about battling tonight.”
No. 9 Yuya Ito dominated Ohio State’s No. 28 Kyle Seeling, winning, 6-0, 6-3. After the Buckeyes’ James Trotter ended Colin Markes’ 15-match win streak with a 6-2, 7-5 win, Texas led 2-1.
But it would be senior Rodrigo Banzer who would step up and redeem his loss earlier this week. Banzer with a grueling first set tiebreaker win and a 6-2 second set to push the lead to 3-1 for the Longhorns.
“We have some mature guys on the team that have matured in their years here,” Berque said. “That was one of the reasons we decided to go with (Banzer) in a big match today, he didn’t start off well at all but he’s got so much experience in matches like these and he just kept fighting.”
And with No. 4 Christian Sigsgaard in the midst of third set and No. 49 Harrison Scott attempting to win a second set tiebreak to take the match in straight sets, it would be Leonardo Telles who ran away with the third set to finish the Buckeyes and set off a wave of celebration on Court 3 and across the Texas Tennis Center, with the elation of defeating the country’s top team pouring out.
“We’ve been thinking about this match for a long time,” Scott said. “We did feel like we were ready, the crowd was unbelievable, they really helped us … I was having a hard time focusing (during the end of my match) because I saw Harrison (Scott) was up and I didn’t know if he was going to win or not … I was telling myself to keep focused and think about my match.”
Texas moves to 16–1 and will welcome in Columbia on March 22 for another top-10 matchup at the Texas Tennis Center.