Illnesses handicap Longhorns at ITA Kickoff Weekend

Henry Corwin

Just when the Longhorns finally got the chance to play their first full matches at the new Texas Tennis Center, a few players battling illnesses put a damper on it.

“We had some challenges this week,” head coach Michael Center said. “Harrison (Scott) was throwing up on Thursday, and Leo (Telles) was just coming out with the flu.”

The Longhorns were clearly not fully healthy at this year’s ITA Kickoff Weekend. With several players sick, the No. 8 Longhorns started off the weekend with a 4-3 loss to Notre Dame in the semifinal round of the Texas Regional. The loss means the Longhorns will not be represented at the ITA national team indoor championships, which is scheduled to take place Feb. 16–19.

After taking the doubles point and two of the first three singles points on Saturday, the Longhorns needed just one more singles win to advance to the final round. But Texas lost the next three matches to fall 4-3.

Scott’s virus combined with good play from his opponent, Notre Dame’s Guillermo Cabrera, proved to be too much for the 27th-ranked singles player in the nation, as Scott fell to Cabrera 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-2. After the regional tournament ended on Sunday, Center made no excuses for why Scott didn’t get the job done, but acknowledged he was hindered by an illness.

“We don’t want to make excuses,” Center said, “(but) he definitely was not at 100 percent. His energy level was low … he wasn’t himself, for sure, this weekend.”

In addition to Scott’s defeat on Saturday, Telles lost in a third-set tiebreaker to Alex Lebedev. Redshirt junior Adrian Ortiz lost to Grayson Broadus 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-4. Ortiz was out all of last season due to injury, and while Center believes he needs some more matches to get back to full strength, he does see improvement in Ortiz thus far.

“Tennis is a sport (where) you got to play a lot of matches, so he still needs some more matches,” Center said. “But I think he’s doing better and better … I think as he gets more matches under his belt he’ll be more and more ready.”

Ortiz played a key role in helping the Longhorns win the consolation match against Tennessee on Sunday. In his singles match, he jumped out to an early 5-1 lead on Tennessee’s Luca Wiedenmann.

Ortiz then dropped two games and went down 15-40 in the set’s ninth game. But Ortiz pulled it together and won three straight points to win the set 6-3. He cruised through the second set with another 6-3 win in what was ultimately the clinching match for the Longhorns. Texas got its other three points from the doubles pool and from victories by sophomore Yuya Ito and junior Rodrigo Banzer.