No. 18 Texas sneaks by No. 12 A&M, advances to Sweet 16

Akshay Mirchandani

George Goldhoff fell to the court, hands on his head partly from exhaustion and partly from joy. The Texas junior’s screaming teammates sprinted straight to him, mobbing him on the court.

He just ended an NCAA Tournament match that took two days to finish. He just notched the clinching point that beat Texas A&M in College Station. He just sent Texas to the Sweet 16.

“That might have been the craziest moment of my life,” Goldhoff said.

Goldhoff’s No. 1 singles match against Texas A&M’s Arthur Rinderknech on Sunday was the culmination of a round that lasted two days because of inclement weather. Goldhoff took the first set from Rinderknech 6-3, while Rinderknech struck back with a 6-1 victory in the second set.

Rinderknech took a quick 4-1 lead in the tie-breaking set, but Goldhoff rattled off five straight points to take a 6-4 lead. A hit by Goldhoff into the net made it 6-5, setting up the final point.

After some back and forth, Goldhoff sent a backhand down the left side of the court that Rinderknech couldn’t reach, giving him the win and Texas the match 4-3 overall.

“On the last point, he got his serve in, and I got the return back,” Goldhoff said. “I mishit a ball and hit it a little deep, but he hit it back short. I had a backhand and I put it away. It was just surreal.”

The Longhorns and Aggies began play Saturday at 1 p.m., but the game was stopped at 3:50 due to lightning. Play resumed Sunday at 11 a.m. Texas was up 3-1 at one point Sunday, but the Aggies rallied back to tie things at 3-3 and set up the showdown between Goldhoff and Rinderknech.

“That celebration is the culmination of an entire season of hard work by our players and staff,” head coach Michael Center said. “We lost five guys from our lineup after last year, and this young team has grown up so much over the course of the season.”

Texas will play Ohio State in the Sweet 16 at 10 a.m. May 20 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is the Longhorns’ 10th appearance in the Sweet 16 under Center.

“We're keeping it one match at a time, but it's huge to beat one of your biggest rivals on their courts,” Goldhoff said. “It's an incredible feeling. I can't put it into words how much this means to me.”