Longhorns look to best former national champions at ITA Kickoff Weekend

Logan Harvill

Both men and women of Longhorn tennis look to find success in the 10th annual Intercollegiate Tennis Association, ITA. With 60 competing teams fighting for 15 spots in the national indoor championships, this weekend’s play will act as an early indicator of the strongest squads in the nation.  

The Longhorn men will look to build off of their early spring success as they prepare for one of the most notable nationwide tournaments of the year. In the fall, junior Leonardo Telles took home the singles title in the Texas Regional. With another year under his belt, the veteran hopes to repeat and take home the trophy once again.

“This tournament was a great opportunity to put together some big wins,” Telles said. “I’m excited about what’s next.”

The No. 8-ranked Texas men will host Notre Dame at the new Texas Tennis Center on Saturday. The Longhorns have played a mere 10 minutes at their new tennis facility thus far due to bad weather. Their doubleheader on Jan. 19 was relocated to the Weller Indoor Tennis Center after just 10 minutes, as was their match on Jan. 21 against SMU. 

With rain in the forecast for Austin on Saturday, the Longhorns may have to wait even longer to get to play a full match at their new home. The tournament will continue Sunday against Minnesota or Tennessee, depending on results, with no rain in the forecast as of now.

The No. 12-ranked Longhorn women, meanwhile, are set to play Mississippi State on Friday at 1 p.m. in Berkeley, Calif., where the California Golden Bears will be hosting one of 15 tournaments across the nation for the ITA Kickoff Weekend.

The winners of each respective kickoff tournament, as well as the host school, Wisconsin, will form a 16-team field for the national indoor championships held in Madison, Wisconsin, from Feb. 9–12.

Depending on their success in Friday’s matches, the Longhorns will proceed to play either UNLV or California. In order to qualify for the championship tournament, the Longhorns need to win both of their matches. 

While the Longhorns have earned their highest ranking since the 2013 season, they come into this weekend’s play as underdogs.

Host California, ranked No. 11, which won the ITA national team indoor championship just two seasons ago, returned to the tournament in 2017 and fell in the quarterfinals. Cal comes in as a favorite to take a spot in 2018 over the Longhorns.