Tennis Roundup: Longhorns gear up for big weekend matchups

Logan Harvill and Henry Corwin

Longhorns Fall to USC, Set to face Tulsa on Sunday

While most Texas students were spending their spring break on the beaches of Florida, Mexico or California, the men’s tennis team was at work, looking to improve to 12–2 on the year with a matchup against No. 11 USC in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

The Longhorns didn’t get off to a great start, dropping the doubles point for just the fourth time in 14 matches this spring. The Longhorns’ third nationally ranked tandem of Rodrigo Banzer and Leonardo Telles fell shockingly to the No. 52 duo of Brandon Holt and Riley Smith, 6-4. The Trojans then handled the singles pool, winning four of the six matches to take home the victory as a team, 5-2.

Head coach Michael Center cited a lack of aggression as the reason why the Longhorns couldn’t get the job done.

“I thought they were more aggressive than we were in some of the key moments,” Center said. “We played five three-set matches, and we just didn’t do the things we needed to do to come out on top.”

The match was clinched by Riley Smith of USC, who defeated junior Rodrigo Banzer, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, at fifth singles.

The Longhorns will look to avenge their third loss of the season on Sunday when they take on Tulsa at 1 p.m. at the Texas Tennis Center. The last time the Longhorns played Tulsa was in January 2017, in which Tulsa defeated them, 4-3.

However, Tulsa is currently an unranked team with a 10–12 record on the season. And after the loss to USC, Center is already looking ahead to this matchup on Sunday.

“We have a lot of work to do over these next 10 days to get ready for (Tulsa),” Center said, “(And) to be ready to face (other conference teams) in the next month or month and a half.”

Longhorn women sneak into top 10 in time for Red River Rivalry

Ahead of this weekend’s play, Texas snuck back into the top 10 of the team ITA tennis rankings. The Longhorns saw a move from No. 12 to No. 8 this Tuesday after the team won their fifth and sixth consecutive matches against Kansas and Kansas State last weekend.

Also released Tuesday, ITA announced its updated singles and doubles rankings, which featured Texas star sophomore Bianca Turati at No. 1 along with a crowd of other Longhorns. No. 33 sophomore Anna Turati, No. 77 sophomore Petra Granic and No. 124 junior Katie Poluta rounded out the rest of the singles ranked Longhorns, while Granic and freshman Bojana Markovic remain the only ranked doubles pair for the Longhorns at No. 44.

Looking to this weekend, No. 8 Texas (11–4, 2–0 Big 12) will prepare to remain undefeated in conference play. The Longhorns will play their first of two matches on the weekend against rival No. 49 Oklahoma (10–5, 2–0 Big 12) on Friday at 5 p.m.

However, the Longhorns’ biggest challenge of the weekend will come Sunday at noon when they face No. 12 Oklahoma State (11–1, 2–0 Big 12). The Cowgirls have a strong team of experienced players with five of their six singles spots being filled with juniors and seniors, four of whom are nationally ranked. On the other hand, the Longhorns play five of their six singles spots with freshman and sophomores, three of whom are ranked nationally. It will be interesting to see if the variations in experience will make a difference in the outcome of Sunday’s matchup.

This weekend will certainly be a significant test for the Longhorns and a potential predictor for their conference success through the rest of the season.

Both matches will be played at the Texas Tennis Center: Oklahoma on Friday at 5 p.m. and Oklahoma State on Sunday at noon.