Championship tournament gets underway

Wes Maulsby

Texas takes its show on the road again this weekend, heading to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship against Kentucky. Texas is the No. 5 seed in the 16 team bracket, and the Wildcats are in the 12th spot. The field includes some of the top teams in the country, and Texas’ side features fourth-seeded Ohio State and the No. 1 overall seed Virginia. Last year, Texas made it to the semis after upsetting top-ranked USC but lost to Tennessee in the finals.

The blueprint for Texas this year has been to take the doubles point first and get the singles points wherever they can. That strategy has paid off so far, with the Longhorns undefeated and ranked No. 5 in the country. Texas has taken the doubles point in every match it’s played so far this season, and with four pairs ranked in the top 100 nationally, they’ll need to continue that early domination. Ed Corrie and Jean Andersen are the second-ranked doubles pair in the country. Kentucky doesn’t have a ranked doubles team, which should play right into Texas’ strong suit.

After registering easy wins to start the year, Texas has been facing stiffer competition over the last few weeks, posting 4-3 wins over Michigan, Texas A&M and Florida State.

Kentucky has three players ranked in the top 100 nationally in singles, including the third-ranked player in the country. Texas may not be as strong at the top of the singles draw but it is deeper with five players ranked. Ben Chen and Daniel Whitehead, a pair of sophomores, have clinched many of Texas’ matches so far and, along with fellow sophomore Vasko Mladenov, are climbing up the rankings. Texas has yet to record the same singles win combination multiple times this year, so any player on the roster could step up this weekend and provide the punch the Longhorns need to be successful.