No. 4 Men’s Tennis preview: NCAA Quarterfinals No. 4 (4 seed) Texas vs. No. 12 (12 seed) USC When: Thurs., May 20, 2021, 4:30 p.m. CT/5:30 p.m. ET Where: USTA National Campus, Orlando, Fla. Team Records: Texas (23-5, 4-1 Big 12), USC (17-9, 7-5 SEC) Television: Tennis Channel (Sam […]
No. 4 Men's Tennis preview: NCAA Quarterfinals
No. 4 (4 seed) Texas vs. No. 12 (12 seed) USC
When: Thurs., May 20, 2021, 4:30 p.m. CT/5:30 p.m. ET
Where: USTA National Campus, Orlando, Fla.
Team Records: Texas (23-5, 4-1 Big 12), USC (17-9, 7-5 SEC)
Television: Tennis Channel (Sam Gore, pxp; Katrina Adams, analyst)
Live Video: hookem.at/MTN-Watch
Live Stats: hookem.at/MTN-Stats
-Second Straight Quarterfinals and Fourth in the Last Seven Years
With their 4-3 win over No. 13 South Carolina in the Round of 16, the Longhorns advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals for the second straight year and for the fourth time in the last seven after also advancing that far in 2014, 2017 and 2019. It is also their 17th appearance in school history.
-What's at Stake
Texas is also looking for its second straight trip to the semifinals. Prior to that, the Longhorns reached that point three times in a four-year stretch in 2006, '08 and '09, along with one other appearance in 1993 for what would be a total of six in school history should they advance this year.
-Back to the Place Where It Happened
The Longhorns return to the USTA National Campus where the last time they played there from May 16-19, 2019, they defeated No. 9 TCU, 4-1, in the NCAA quarterfinals, No. 4 Florida, 4-2, in the semifinals, and No. 3 Wake Forest, 4-1, in the finals to win the program's first team National Championship and complete a 29-3 season.
-Defending National Champions (Still)
Without the NCAA Tournament being played last year, the Longhorns entered the season and the 2021 NCAA Tournament still as the defending National Champions from 2019. Juniors Chih Chi Huang and Nevin Arimilli and redshirt sophomore Cleeve Harper are the lone members remaining from the title team with Huang being the only one to play that postseason. The team has had an influx of new faces arriving since that time, while head coach Bruce Berque is in his third season after taking over midway through the season and guiding Texas to its first team championship.
-Texas earns No. 4 overall seed for NCAA Tournament
The Longhorns earned their 29th consecutive bid to the NCAA Championships and their 38th overall selection since the NCAA bracketed tournament was introduced in 1977 and now hold a 66-36 (.647) record all-time. Texas hosted the opening rounds of the NCAA Championships for a fourth-straight time and for the sixth time in the last seven years discounting 2020 when no tournament was played.
-USC Series: USC leads, 23-8
This will be a rematch of a meeting between Texas and USC in the first round of consolation matches in this year's ITA National Indoor Championship in Champaign, Ill., on Feb. 13. Much like their match against South Carolina, the Longhorns overcame a 3-0 deficit to the Trojans with four singles wins, three of which went to three sets. In fact, it was the same four players who earned those wins, but on that occasion, it was Cleeve Harper who clinched. Prior to that, the teams last met in 2019, a year in which they did so twice. In the first meeting, the Longhorns took a 4-0 sweep on Feb. 16 in the quarterfinals of the ITA National Indoor Championship in Chicago, while the Trojans then earned a 4-2 win in Austin on March 24. The Texas win had snapped a five-match winning streak for USC with the previous win for the Longhorns before that coming in the 2010 ITA National Indoor Championship. Texas had been scheduled to visit USC in Los Angeles on March 17, 2020, prior to the match being canceled due to the pandemic.
Last Three Meetings
No. 5 Texas 4, No. 1 USC 3
Sat., Feb. 13, 2021 • Champaign, Ill. (ITA Indoors Consolation)
Singles – Order of Finish (5,1,2,3,6,4)
1. #1 Daniel Cukierman (USC) def. #57 Siem Woldeab (UT) 6-2, 6-2
2. #120 Eliot Spizzirri (UT) def. #19 Riley Smith (USC) 7-6 (2), 6-3
3. #78 Micah Braswell (UT) def. #104 Stefan Dostanic (USC) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4
4. Cleeve Harper (UT) def. #79 Ryder Jackson (USC) 5-7, 6-1, 6-2
5. Lodewijk Weststrate (USC) def. Chih Chi Huang (UT) 6-0, 6-1
6. Evin McDonald (UT) def. Jake Sands (USC) 2-6, 7-5, 7-5
Doubles – Order of Finish (2,3,1)
1. #1 Daniel Cukierman/Riley Smith (USC) def. Eliot Spizzirri/Siem Woldeab (UT) 7-6 (2)
2. Stefan Dostanic/Bradley Frye (USC) def. Payton Holden/Chih Chi Huang (UT) 6-1
3. Micah Braswell/Cleeve Harper (UT) def. Mor Bulis/Lodewijk Weststrate (USC) 6-2
No. 15 USC 4, No. 3 Texas 2
Sun., March 24, 2019 • Austin, Texas
Singles – Order of Finish (5,4,2,1,6)
1. #17 Brandon Holt (USC) def. #6 Christian Sigsgaard (UT), 6-4, 6-4
2. #9 Yuya Ito (UT) def. #10 Daniel Cukierman (USC), 6-4, 6-3
3. #104 Leonardo Telles (UT) vs. #28 Laurens Verboven (USC), 6-4, 4-4, unf.
4. #59 Harrison Scott (UT) def. #71 Logan Smith (USC), 6-3, 6-2
5. Riley Smith (USC) def. Colin Markes (UT), 6-3, 6-2
6. Mor Bulis (USC) def. Chih Chi Huang (UT), 6-2, 7-5
Doubles – Order of Finish (3,2)
1. #7 Christian Sigsgaard/Harrison Scott (UT) vs. #16 Brandon Holt/Riley Smith (USC), 6-5, unf.
2. Jack Jaede/Laurens Verboven (USC) def. Leonardo Telles/Colin Markes (UT), 6-3
3. Daniel Cukierman/Tanner Smith (USC) def. Yuya Ito/Chih Chi Huang (UT), 6-4
No. 6 Texas 4, No. 5 USC 0
Sat., Feb. 16, 2019 • Chicago, Ill. (ITA Indoors Quarterfinals)
Singles – Order of Finish (4,5,2)
1. No. 6 Christian Sigsgaard (UT) vs. No. 56 Brandon Holt (USC), 6-4, 3-6, unf.
2. No. 14 Yuya Ito (UT) def. No. 4 Daniel Cukierman (USC), 6-2, 7-5
3. No. 91 Leonardo Telles (UT) vs. Jack Jaede (USC), 6-4, 5-4, unf.
4. Harrison Scott (UT) def. No. 31 Laurens Verboven (USC), 6-1, 6-1
5. Colin Markes (UT) def. Riley Smith (USC), 6-3, 6-4
6. Chih Chi Huang (UT) vs. Mor Bulis (USC), 6-3, 2-6, unf.
Doubles – Order of Finish (1,3,2)
1. Brandon Holt/Riley Smith (USC) def. No. 13 Harrison Scott/Christian Sigsgaard, 6-2
2. Colin Markes/Leonardo Telles (UT) def. Laurens Verboven/Jack Jaede, 7-5
3. Chih Chi Huang/Yuya Ito (UT) def. No. 21 Daniel Cukierman/Tanner Smith, 7-5
-Texas vs USC in 2020 tournament play
-Ranked No. 4
Texas is ranked No. 4 in the latest Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Rankings released May 5 by the ITA. It marks the 38th-straight poll the Longhorns have been ranked in the top 10 dating back to the beginning of the 2019 season.
-New ITA Coaches Poll
The ITA debuted its first coaches poll on April 7 and the Longhorns were ranked No. 7, they held that spot in the following poll on April 14, moved up to No. 2 on April 21 and were No. 4 on April 28. No poll was released for the week of May 5.
-ITA Individual National Rankings (May 5)
No. 49 Daniel Cukierman
No. 52 Riley Smith
No. 113 Mor Bulis
No. 116 Stefan Dostanic
No. 10 Daniel Cukierman/Riley Smith
-Texas in the Individual NCAA Championships
Texas had two singles players and one doubles pair selected to compete individually in the 2021 NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championships. The singles players are sophomore Eliot Spizzirri and freshman Micah Braswell, while the doubles team is the duo of Spizzirri and sophomore Siem Woldeab in a field that is composed of 64 singles players and 32 doubles teams. The first-round draws will be decided at a later date. All three were chosen as at-large selections and will be making their first appearances in the tournament after it was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic.
-2021 Texas Big 12 Postseason Awards
The Longhorns earned several Big 12 Men's Tennis postseason awards, including Bruce Berque as Coach of the Year, Micah Braswell unanimously as Freshman of the Year, four All-Big 12 selections with two of those as unanimous, and two individual singles champions. The All-Big 12 team honorees included unanimous first-team selections in sophomore Eliot Spizzirri in singles and the duo of Spizzirri and sophomore Siem Woldeab in doubles, along with two second-team honorees in singles in Braswell and Woldeab. The conference also honored individual champions at each singles position based on record with Spizzirri (4-1 Big 12) sharing the honor at No. 1, and sophomore Cleeve Harper (3-1 Big 12) sharing it at No. 4. Conference awards were not issued following the 2020 season, which was cut short by the pandemic prior to conference matches being played. Due to that, this is the second-straight time Berque has won the Coach of the Year award after doing so in 2019, and the ninth time overall it has been won by a Texas coach. It also makes it the first time Spizzirri, Woldeab and Harper have received honors, in addition to Braswell who is in his true freshman season. Braswell becomes the fifth Longhorn to be named Freshman of the Year with the last being Christian Sigsgaard in 2017.
So far in his early career as a Longhorn, sophomore Eliot Spizzirri has had an excellent start, registering a 36-12 singles record that includes an 28-9 mark in dual match play. In 2021, he is 17-8 in dual match singles play and made an early mark in the season by clinching a 4-3 win for the team over No. 9 Florida by downing No. 8 Sam Riffice in three sets, which sent Texas the ITA National Indoors. There, he helped Texas to a victory over No. 1 USC with a win over No. 19 Riley Smith. He has played No. 1 in his last 17 matches and is 9-6 in those (two unfinished) with 10 coming against top-50 opponents including a high-ranking win over No. 2 Daniel Rodrigues of South Carolina in the NCAA Round of 16. Overall this season, he has six wins against top-50 foes. In his first collegiate dual match last season he opened with a win over No. 72 Andy Andrade at No. 1 Florida to help Texas to a win. He had joined the team in January and made an immediate impact, playing primarily the No. 4 spot in the lineup. In tournament play in this season, he recorded a 7-1 mark in singles. He claimed the co-championship of the top flight in singles and the championship of the top flight of doubles with Siem Woleab at the Bama Spring Shootout. He has a 33-20 overall career record in doubles to this point, including 16-11 this season in dual match play where he has combined with Siem Woldeab for five top-15 wins, four of which are top-10, with one over No. 3 Matej Vocel and Emile Hudd of Oklahoma State (who they have beaten twice, but most recently were unranked), two over No. 10 Sven Lah and Constantin Frantzen of Baylor (with another when Lah and Frantzen were No. 19), one over No. 14 Rithvik Bollipalli and Jakub Wojcik of South Florida and one over No. 8 Juan Carlos Aguilar and Bjorn Thomson of Texas A&M, along with coming up just short in a tiebreaker to No. 1 Daniel Cukierman and Riley Smith of USC.
True freshman Micah Braswell came out of the gate hot and posted a 12-1 singles record in his first action as a Longhorn this fall, on his way to winning the championship of the Lakes Tennis Invite and co-championships of the TCU Invite and the Big 6 Fall Invite. That included wins over players in the last rankings of last season: No. 48 Parker Wynn, No. 77 Luc Fomba, No. 87 Ilgiz Valiev, No. 104 Mason Beiler and No. 107 Charlie Broom. He followed that up with a 3-0 start to spring play at the Bama Spring Shootout to earn the co-championship with teammate Eliot Spizzirri, along with dual match wins against Louisiana, SMU and Liberty before dropping his first against No. 85 Andy Andrade of No. 9 Florida. He won 11 straight after that, including over No. 104 Stefan Dostanic in Texas' victory over No. 1 USC, a clinch against No. 86 Henrik Korsgaard in a win at No. 26 Oklahoma State and over No. 54 Filip Malbasic to help down No. 15 Arizona. He also clinched Texas' 4-3 win in its first dual road match of the season at Tulane. His win streak was snapped in against No. 64 Juan Carlos Aguilar of Texas A&M playing at No. 2, but he rebounded with a win over No. 111 Mason Beiler of Oklahoma, and then clinched a 4-3 win over No. 18 Oklahoma State with a third-set tiebreaker win over No. 107 Emile Hudd. He topped his highest-ranked opponent yet with a win over No. 22 Connor Thomson of South Carolina in the NCAA Round of 16, which got Texas on the board and starter their comeback from down 3-0. Named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year, he is now 34-6 overall in singles play, including 19-5 in dual matches, along with holding third-set leads when play stopped in two unfinished matches against No. 43 Sven Lah of Baylor. He's also 26-10 overall in doubles with a 14-6 mark in dual matches, playing No. 3 in all but the match at No. 28 Oklahoma where he and Cleeve Harper combined for a 6-1 win. In his last seven decisions, he has paired with Payton Holden for six wins, including clinching the doubles point in the last regular season contest against No. 2 Baylor.
Sophomore Siem Woldeab was honored as the ITA Texas Region Rookie of the Year last season after he posted a 21-10 overall record in singles, including 11-3 in dual matches, stepping into the starting lineup for a defending National Champion Texas team and playing mostly at No. 3. He registered a high singles ranking of 37 and a high doubles ranking of 11 during the year and collected eight wins over ranked opponents in singles, including four against the top 40, two in the top 17 and one over teammate Yuya Ito in the championship match of his first collegiate tournament at the Gamecock Fall Invitational. He then paired with Ito to win the doubles title at the same tournament, and later paired with Christian Sigsgaard to win the doubles title of the Southern Intercollegiate Championships. In dual match play, Woldeab clinched matches against No. 43 Tulane, Nebraska and Tulsa. In the first dual match of his career on the road at No. 1 Florida, he played No. 3 singles and downed No. 17 Duarte Vale in straight sets to secure the team's first point in a 5-2 win. Woldeab won his last six singles matches of the season, including against opponents on two top-10 teams in No. 8 Stanford and No. 9 NC State. In this dual match season, Woldeab is 10-8 in singles (4-1 in Big 12), including a straight sets wins over No. 12 Duarte Vale of ninth-ranked Florida and No. 77 Noah Schachter of No. 6 Texas A&M, and a three-set win over No. 47 Sander Jong of TCU, while also leading No. 24 Adam Walton of Tennessee in an unfinished match and tied with No. 46 Adrian Boitan of Baylor in the third set of another. Woldeab missed five total matches in singles this season due to injury, but he has now won five of his last six singles decisions. He has also posted a 13-10 doubles record, all with Eliot Spizzirri, that includes six top-15 wins, four of which are top-10, with one over No. 3 Matej Vocel and Emile Hudd of Oklahoma State (who they have beaten twice, but most recently were unranked), two over No. 10 Sven Lah and Constantin Frantzen of Baylor (with another when Lah and Frantzen were No. 19), one over No. 14 Rithvik Bollipalli and Jakub Wojcik of South Florida and one over No. 8 Juan Carlos Aguilar and Bjorn Thomson of Texas A&M, along with coming up just short in a tiebreaker to No. 1 Daniel Cukierman and Riley Smith of USC.
Sophomore Cleeve Harper has been one of the Longhorns' most consistent leaders and so far in his sophomore season has put together a 24-9 overall singles record and an even more impressive 19-5 dual match singles mark, primarily at No. 4. Harper won his first four singles dual matches and nine of his first 10, which includes a victory over No. 79 Ryder Jackson to clinch the team's match over then No. 1 USC at the ITA Indoors. He defeated his second ranked opponent of dual match play this season with a straight sets win over No. 78 Pierce Rollins to help Texas to a victory over No. 6 Texas A&M and followed it with another against No. t-99 Jake Fearnley of TCU. Most recently, he captured another straight sets victory over No. 54 Rafael Lambling of South Carolina in the NCAA Round of 16. Harper has now won eight of his last nine singles decisions. Harper has also put together a 14-8 dual match record in doubles, including wins in 11 of the last 17 decisions. That stretch includes three different partners in Micah Braswell, Jacob Bullard and Chih Chi Huang. In those 11 wins, only one opponent has won more than three games in a match, and in fact, that has been the case in 12 of the 14 dual match doubles wins for Harper.
-Chih Chi Huang
Junior Chih Chi Huang has been a regular in both the Longhorns' singles and doubles lineups throughout his career. In 2021 dual match play, he has posted a 12-9 record, primarily at No. 5. After winning his first three dual singles matches of the season and four of his first five, including over Ben Shelton of Florida, Huang fell in three straight, however he recovered for eight wins in his last 13 decisions, was key in Texas' 4-3 win at No. 28 Oklahoma, while clinching in the 5-2 win over the No. 21 Sooners in their second meeting, and he clinched the 5-2 win at No. 2 Baylor. Huang has also posted a 10-10 record in dual match doubles play and has won his last six of his last 12 decisions when paired with Cleeve Harper, including a key 11-9 tiebreaker win to clinch the doubles point in the Longhorns' 4-3 win over No. 6 Texas A&M.
Sophomore Evin McDonald came up with the most clutch performance of his early career when he clinched the match at No. 28 Oklahoma with a gritty 7-6 (6), 5-7, 7-5 win at No. 5 singles, however he topped that with the season on the line by coming back from being down 3-6, 1-3 against Thomas Brown of South Carolina for a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 win to clinch the overall match at 4-3 and complete a Texas comeback from down 3-0. He has won nine of his last 13 with a dominant 6-1, 6-1 victory in his last decision against Northern Arizona, another by the same score at Rice, a third-set tiebreaker win against Arizona, a superbreaker win against South Florida, along with clinches against No. 6 Texas A&M in a 4-3 match, and in a 4-1 victory in the Big 12 semifinals against No. 18 Oklahoma State. He is now 13-10 in dual match singles play for the season and also contributed a key singles win in the last regular season match against Texas Tech.
-Berque at the Helm
Bruce Berque is in his third season as the head coach at Texas having taken over midway through the 2019 season. From there, he has led the Longhorns to a 51-10 overall record (.836) that includes 23-5 so far this season, 13-3 in a season shortened by the pandemic last year, and 15-2 in 2019 en route to the guiding Texas to its first team National Championship. The Longhorns also earned the Big 12 regular season championship that year.
With most of the higher-ranked teams in the nation returning a significant number of seniors taking advantage of an extra year of eligibility provided due to the pandemic, Bruce Berque has had to mentor a young and developing team into one that has been consistently ranked in the top five and continually in the top 10, including as high as No. 2, shared the Big 12 regular season title, and has posted a 23-5 record with all five of their losses coming to top-10 opponents. That has been accomplished with team's singles lineup including four sophomores (who only received 16 dual matches worth of competition and no post-season experience in 2020) at Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 6, a true freshman at No. 2, and a junior at No. 5. All of those players with the exception of the true freshman will also have the option for additional eligibility that makes them the equivalent of four freshmen and a sophomore with only one of those having already used a redshirt year. Most of those same players are also playing doubles, including two sophomores at No. 1, a sophomore and junior at No. 2, and a true freshman and transfer senior at No. 3. For much of the season, other sophomores have been the second player at No. 3 along with the freshman.
-Coming Up Clutch
So far this season Texas is 7-1 in matches decided in the final singles contest with 4-3 wins over No. 9 Florida, No. 15 Arizona and No. 18 Oklahoma State in Austin, No. 1 USC at the ITA Indoor Nationals, on the road at Tulane and No. 28 Oklahoma and in the NCAA Round of 16 against No. 13 South Carolina. The Longhorns are 3-4 in the doubles point in those the wins, but picked up the clinching point in singles from five different players including Eliot Spizzirri against Florida, Cleeve Harper against USC, Micah Braswell at Tulane and versus Oklahoma State, Evin McDonald at Oklahoma and against South Carolina, and Nevin Arimilli against Arizona. The only defeat was in their match against No. 8 TCU which saw the final singles match go to a third-set tiebreaker.
-Knocking Off No. 1s
Included in the team's wins this season are three of the four teams who have been ranked No. 1 at some point this season, including No. 2 Baylor (currently No. 1), No. 9 Florida (currently No. 2) and No. 1 USC (currently No. 12). The win over Florida sent the Longhorns to the quarterfinals of the ITA National Team Indoors where they defeated No. 1 USC in the first consolation match. The 5-2 win at No. 2 Baylor was what helped Texas win a share of the Big 12 title and earn the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 Championship where they reached the final, only falling to Baylor, while playing in Waco for the second time in 11 days.
-Getting It Done on the Court and in the Classroom
The Longhorns posted a school-record eight honorees to the 2021 Academic All-Big 12 Tennis Team, the conference announced May 6. That number bettered the previous high of six set three times in 1997, 2011 and 2013 and also led the Big 12 in 2021 selections. Of the eight, seven earned first-team recognition, including juniors Nevin Arimilli and Chih Chi Huang, along with sophomores Cleeve Harper, Evin McDonald, Eliot Spizzirri, Eshan Talluri and Siem Woldeab, while sophomore Jacob Bullard was named to the second team. All three eligible returning players made the team for the second-straight time after Arimilli and Harper were on the first team and Huang was on the second team last year. Freshmen are not eligible, so the other five are making their first appearance. Also with freshmen and transfers not eligible in their first year of academic residence, those two categories make up the Longhorns' three remaining 2021 roster spots including two freshmen in Leighton Allen and Micah Braswell and one graduate transfer in Payton Holden.
-Back to the Big 12 Championship Finals
The Longhorns reached the Big 12 Championship Finals for the third straight time. They have made the finals 12 times in their history, winning five of those with the most recent coming in 2018, in addition to 1997, 1999, 2006 and 2010.
-Woldeab named to Big 12 All-Tournament Team
Siem Woldeab was named to the 2021 Big 12 Men's Tennis All-Tournament Team at No. 3 singles. During the tournament, Woldeab captured a 6-4, 6-1 win over Henrik Korsgaard of Oklahoma State in helping Texas to a 4-1 semifinals win, while also winning his first set and leading in the third of an unfinished match against Nick Stachowiak of Baylor, 6-4, 3-6, 1-0, in the finals.
-3-0 vs. Oklahoma State
The Longhorns defeated Oklahoma State for the third time this year with a 4-1 win in the Big 12 semifinals on April 24. They had previous beaten them 4-1 in non-conference match in Stillwater on March 5, and followed that with a 4-3 win in Austin on April 11. Texas used singles wins from Siem Woldeab at No. 3, Micah Braswell at No. 2, Cleeve Harper at No. 4 and Evin McDonald with the clinch at No. 6.
-Two straight Big 12 regular season titles
Texas claimed a share of its second-straight Big 12 regular season championship, finishing with a 4-1 conference record and in a three-way tie with Baylor and TCU. After winning the title outright in 2019, the Big 12 season was not played in 2020 due to the pandemic, and the Longhorns used a 4-1 win at No. 21 Texas Tech on April 18 to close their conference slate and earn a share of their ninth regular season Big 12 championship in program history.
-Spizzirri – Record-setting five-time Big 12 Player of the Week
Eliot Spizzirri was named Big 12 Men's Tennis Co-Player of the Week for the week ending April 18 after leading Texas to road wins over No. 21 Oklahoma and No. 18 Oklahoma State. It marks Spizzirri's fifth conference weekly honor of the season and of his career after he also earned it for the weeks that ended Jan. 24, Feb. 28, March 28 and April 11. The five in one year sets a new Big 12 single-season record after Spizzirri had previously been tied with former teammate Yuya Ito for the record. It is also the sixth for the Longhorns this season after freshman Micah Braswell received it for the week ending March 7.
-Road Win at No. 2 Baylor
The Longhorns topped No. 2 Baylor, 5-2, in Waco on April 15 at the Hawkins Tennis Center to earn their fourth win over a top-10 team this season. It was the third time the teams had met this season with the Bears winning non-conference matches in Austin and at the ITA National Indoors earlier this year. The match had been scheduled to be played outdoors and moved indoors due to weather. Texas used the doubles point and singles wins from Eliot Spizzirri at No. 1, Siem Woldeab at No. 3, the clincher from Chih Chi Huang at No. 5, and an additional victory from Cleeve Harper at No. 4 for the final.
-Wrangling a Sweep of the Cowboys
The Longhorns completed a sweep of both regular season matches against Oklahoma State with a 4-3 victory on April 11. Texas had won, 4-1, in Stillwater earlier in the year in a non-conference match. This time, the Longhorns won the doubles point and followed with singles wins by Eliot Spizzirri at No. 1 and Siem Woldeab at No. 3, and No. 16 Micah Braswell at No. 2, who clinched the overall match in a third-set tiebreaker.
-Red River Sweep
Texas has won both regular season meetings with rival Oklahoma with the most recent coming in Big 12 Conference play. The Longhorns won the doubles point and clinched at 4-0 with straight sets singles victories from Micah Braswell at No. 2, Cleeve Harper at No. 4 and Chih Chi Huang at No. 5. As the teams played it out, those were followed by a third-set superbreaker win for Eliot Spizzirri at No. 1, while the only two defeats came in another third-set superbreaker at No. 6, and a regular third-set tiebreaker at No. 3.
-So Close Against TCU
The Longhorns and No. 8 TCU battled to a tiebreaker in the third set of the last singles match with the Horn Frogs coming up with the 4-3 win at the Texas Tennis Center on April 3. TCU won the doubles point and Texas got wins from Siem Woldeab at No. 3, Cleeve Harper at No. 4 and Chih Chi Huang at No. 5, but came up just short at No. 2 with Eliot Spizzirri in the third-set tiebreaker.
Texas and Texas A&M met on the tennis court for the first time since 2016 and the first time in the regular season since 2012 when they faced off on March 31. The Longhorns used a dramatic doubles point victory that was clinched at 11-9 by Cleeve Harper and Chih Chi Huang in the final match and three singles wins from Siem Woldeab at No. 3, Harper at No. 4, and Evin McDonald at No. 6 for the 4-3 win, which was clinched at 4-0. The doubles point also featured a top-10 win for Woldeab and Eliot Spizzirri over the No. 8 pair in the country.
-Horns over Bulls
The Longhorns earned a 6-1 win over No. 29 South Florida on March 27. It was their sixth-straight win with four of those coming against ranked opponents. Texas used the doubles point and straight-set singles wins by junior Chih Chi Huang at No. 5, freshman No. 18 Micah Braswell at No. 3, and sophomores Cleeve Harper at No. 4, No. 32 Eliot Spizzirri at No. 1 and Evin McDonald at No. 6 for the victory.
-Going the Distance
Texas bested No. 15 Arizona, 4-3, on March 19 in a hard-fought thriller that saw all six singles contests go to three sets. The Longhorns took the doubles point that had two matches finish at 7-5 and then added singles wins by freshman No. 78 Micah Braswell at No. 2, sophomore Evin McDonald at No. 5 and junior Nevin Arimilli at No. 6. In addition to all singles matches going three sets, two of those were decided by tiebreakers, including McDonald's, and Arimilli clinched the match at 7-5 in his third set.
-4-0 On the Road
The Longhorns completed their four-match road stretch with a perfect record by downing Rice, 6-1, at the George R. Brown Tennis Center in Houston on March 12. Texas used the doubles point and five singles victories by sophomore Evin McDonald at No. 5, freshman No. 78 Micah Braswell at No. 2, sophomore Cleeve Harper at No. 3, sophomore No. 120 Eliot Spizzirri at No. 1, and junior Chih Chi Huang at No. 4 to take the victory.
-Braswell tabbed Big 12 Player of the Week
Micah Braswell was named Big 12 Men's Tennis Player of the Week for the week ending March 7. It was the first conference weekly honor of Braswell's career, giving it to the Longhorns for the second-straight week after sophomore Eliot Spizzirri received it last week. Spizzirri has earned it twice this season for a total of three for Texas players. Braswell helped lead Texas to two road win against ranked opponents as the Longhorns won non-conference matches at No. 26 Oklahoma State (4-1) and at No. 28 Oklahoma (4-3), including clinching the Oklahoma State match.
-Sweep in the Sooner State
Texas won a pair of non-conference matches against ranked Big 12 foes in the state of Oklahoma. First the Longhorns secured a 4-1 win at No. 26 Oklahoma State in Stillwater on March 5. Texas captured the doubles point, including a win at No. 1 by the sophomore duo of Eliot Spizzirri and Siem Woldeab over the No. 3 doubles pair in the country, and followed with singles wins by junior Chih Chi Huang at No. 5, sophomore Cleeve Harper at No. 4 and freshman No. 78 Micah Braswell at No. 3. Braswell clinched his second-straight match to finish the win.
The Longhorns followed that by fighting back for a 4-3 victory against No. 28 Oklahoma in Norman on March 7 to win the team's third-straight road match and sweep its two matches in the state of Oklahoma. In tough, windy conditions with sophomore Siem Woldeab out of the lineup due to injury, the Longhorns used four singles wins by junior Nevin Arimilli at No. 6, sophomore Micah Braswell at No. 2, junior Chih Chi Huang at No. 4 and sophomore Evin McDonald at No. 5 for the win. For McDonald, it was his first clinch as a Longhorn.
-Opening Strong on the Road at Tulane
Texas played its first true road dual match of the season and opened a four-match road stretch with a 4-3 over Tulane at City Park Tennis Center in New Orleans on Feb. 27. The Longhorns used a pair of 6-2 wins at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles to claim that point and followed with singles wins by junior Nevin Arimilli at No. 6, sophomore No. 120 Eliot Spizzirri at No. 1, and freshman No. 78 Micah Braswell at No. 3, who broke a 3-3 tie to clinch in three sets.
-Topping No. 1 at ITA Indoors
Texas made its third-straight trip to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships from Feb. 12-14, facing three top 10 teams and coming away with a 4-3 win over No. 1 USC on Feb. 13. The Longhorns overcame a 3-0 deficit to the Trojans with four singles wins, three of which went to three sets. The Horns almost pulled off an even more impressive comeback the next day against No. 10 Tennessee, having dropped the doubles point and all six first sets in singles, but came up just short, 4-2, with the clinching match going to 7-5 in the third set and leading 3-1 in the third set of the remaining match. In their opening match against No. 4 Baylor, the Longhorns fell, 4-0, but earned a win over the No. 10 doubles pair in the country and had leads in the ongoing sets of the three unfinished matches with the first sets of two of them going to the Bears in tiebreakers.
-Doubleheader Sweep Over UIW and Texas A&M-CC
Heading into the ITA Indoors, the Longhorns swept a doubleheader against UIW (6-1) and Texas A&M-Corpus Chrisiti (5-0) on Feb. 6. Eliot Spizzirri, Micah Braswell and Cleeve Harper all earned two singles wins for the day, while Leighton Allen earned his first college singles win in dual match play against TAMCC.
-Split of Back-to-Back Versus No. 6 Baylor and Arizona State
In back-to-back matches on January 30-31, Texas lost a tight contest to No. 6 Baylor, 4-1, but rebounded the next day to defeat Arizona State, 4-3. The match against Baylor was closer than the score with the Bears winning the last match in three sets and the Longhorns leading and tied in the two remaining singles matches when play stopped, while the match against the Sun Devils was clinched at 4-1 before the teams played out the last two matches. Texas gave Baylor its first doubles point loss of the season and then used four singles wins over Arizona State.
-Three Straight Trips to ITA National Team Indoor Championships
Texas earned its third straight trip to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships by defeating Liberty (4-1) and No. 9 Florida (4-3) in the Austin ITA Kickoff Weekend on Jan. 22-23. In a rollercoaster of a day against Florida that involved multiple weather delays and a late location change, the Longhorns persevered and topped the Gators on the strength of singles wins from Cleeve Harper, Chih Chi Huang, Siem Woldeab and finally Eliot Spizzirri over No. 8 Sam Riffice in three sets. The ITA Indoors will take place from February 12-14 in Champaign, Ill.
-Completing a Back-to-Back Sweep Against SMU
The Longhorns posted their second 7-0 sweep in as many days as they down SMU by that score at the Texas Tennis Center on Jan. 16. Texas didn't drop a set to the Mustangs and only left one doubles match unfinished at 3-3.
-Season Opening Sweep Over Louisiana
Texas opened its 2021 dual match season with a 7-0 sweep of Louisiana at the Texas Tennis Center on Jan. 15. The Longhorns won all six singles matches on the day with four in straight sets and two that ended in third-set superbreakers. They also took two out of three doubles matches.
-Bama Spring Shootout
The Longhorns headed to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to open spring play in a tournament that was originally scheduled to host individual play between Texas, Alabama and Mississippi State. However, after Mississippi State withdrew, members of Texas and Alabama faced off with the Longhorns winning four out of five titles, including sweeping all 10 doubles matches played on the second day. All three singles champions for the Longhorns in Eliot Spizzirri, Micah Braswell and Leighton Allen posted perfect 3-0 records.
-Simply the Best
This season Texas will be without two of its staples from the last four years that included a run to the program's first team National Championship in Yuya Ito and Christian Sigsgaard. Both players rank in the top 10 in all-time singles wins at Texas with Ito fifth (111) and Sigsgaard seventh (105) and would have been eligible to return, however Sigsgaard chose to begin his career in professional tennis, while Ito accepted a job opportunity in Japan.
Ito posted overall career marks of 111-34 (.766) in singles and 79-36 (.687) in doubles, including dual match records of 66-18 (.786) in singles and 48-27 (.640) in doubles. He was on pace to set the UT record for career singles victories had his final season not been cut short. His overall .766 career singles winning percentage is the best among the 22 players who have 90 victories or more. Ito was just the third three-time singles All-American (2017, '19, '20) in program history since separate singles and doubles honors began to be recognized in 1979. He finished in the top 10 of the ITA final singles rankings in both of the last two years at No. 8 in 2019 and No. 2 in 2020. He also paired with Christian Sigsgaard to rank as high as No. 4 in doubles in 2020.
Sigsgaard posted overall career marks of 105-41 (.719) in singles and 78-33 (.703) in doubles, including dual match records of 53-28 (.654) in singles and 51-21 (.708) in doubles. He departed Texas with three ITA All-America honors, earning them in singles in 2019 and 2020, and in doubles in 2019. He placed in the top 10 of the ITA final rankings in singles and doubles both of those years, finishing at No. 6 in singles in 2019 and 2020 and in doubles in 2019, along with No. 9 in doubles in 2020.
-Year Four at the Texas Tennis Center
Texas completed its fourth year of play at the Texas Tennis Center with a 14-2 mark in 2021, which included wins over No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 9 Florida and No. 15 Arizona, and has compiled a 48-5 overall record. That also includes a 9-0 mark in a shortened season in 2020 that featured wins against No. 8 Stanford, No. 18 Georgia and No. 21 Florida State. The Longhorns finished 2019 with a 15-1 mark there, including wins over No. 1 Ohio State, No. 6 Baylor and No. 12 Columbia, along with three NCAA Tournament victories. The lone loss came to No. 15 USC. During its inaugural season, Texas posted a 10-2 record, including winning the 2018 Big 12 Tournament.