Longhorns fall in quarterfinals to No. 15 Oklahoma, 4-3

Justin Martinez

Oklahoma stormed the court following its 4-3 win over No. 9 Texas on Thursday.

But on the other side of the court, the Longhorns walked away from the ongoing celebration, knowing they let an opportunity slip past them.

After fighting tooth and nail from the first serve, Texas found itself on the losing end of a nail biter. The Sooners found success after their 4-3 loss to the Longhorns on March 31 with a victory that advanced them to the semifinals of the Big 12 Championships.

Oklahoma got off to a fiery start in doubles play, rallying behind the home crowd to win the first two matches 6-4, 6-2 and take a 1-0 lead.

But the Longhorns showed grit in singles play. Sophomore Julian Zlobinsky delivered in his first singles match since March 5, besting Oklahoma’s Adrian Oetzbach 6-4, 6-1 to tie the score at one.

Sophomore Harrison Scott, ranked No. 45 in the country, kept the run going with a 7-6, 6-1 win over No. 18 Spencer Papa.

“Julian stepped in and had a nice result today,” head coach Michael Center said. “We also got a great effort out Harrison to beat (Spencer) Papa, who is another really good player. Overall, both teams did a lot of great things.”

The Sooners responded every time the Longhorns seemed to be on the verge of pulling away. Oklahoma’s Jochen Bertsch knotted the score at two with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over sophomore
Rodrigo Banzer.

After splitting the next two matches, both sides huddled around the No. 3 court as senior George Goldhoff and Alex Ghilea duked it out in the final set.

Goldhoff stormed out to a quick 2-0 start before Ghilea strung together six straight games to give him the 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 victory and send Texas home in disappointment.

“We had some opportunities in some of the matches, but I’ve got to give OU credit,” Center said. “I saw a lot of good signs, but I also saw a few things that we need to clean up.”

The focus now shifts to the NCAA Championships as the Longhorns seek their first title in program history.

The route to the championship could go through Austin as Texas is expected to host first and second-round matches from May 12-14. The complete field of 64 will be revealed on May 2.

“We’ve had great crowds over at Caswell, and we’ll definitely need our fans to come out for those matches,” Center said. “We’ve got two weeks to get ready and hopefully play our best tennis down the stretch.”