No. 3 Texas suffers first home loss of season to No. 14 USC

Robert Trevino

The Texas Tennis Center was host to another top-15 matchup over the weekend, with No. 3 Texas meeting up with the No. 15 USC Trojans on Sunday afternoon.

It was the Trojans who took the doubles point and separated themselves in singles to hand Texas its first loss at home and second on the year.

“I think (USC) were pretty hungry to beat us, we beat them pretty bad last time,” interim head coach Bruce Berque said on the loss. “They deserve a lot of credit for playing really good tennis and taking a pretty tight doubles point.”

The Trojans capitalized early in the match with doubles pair Daniel Cukierman and Tanner Smith defeating Yuya Ito and Chih Chi Huang, 6-4, while Jack Jaede and Laurens Verboven clinched the doubles point with a 6-3 win over Texas’ Leonardo Telles and Colin Markes.

“The fact that we’re 17–2 in doubles points which is exactly our record — that fact that we’ve been able to be that consistent with this format shows that we have pretty good doubles,” Berque said. “USC always has great doubles, last time we got the better of them on a few of those deuce points and got the doubles point and that turned out to be pretty critical.”

Trojans’ Riley Smith jumped out of the gate in singles play, taking down Texas’ Colin Markes, 6-3, 6-2, to push the USC lead to 2-0.

Texas struck back with match wins from No. 59 Harrison Scott, 6-3, 6-2, and No. 9 Yuya Ito, 6-4, 6-3, to even the match at two points apiece.

“We lost to them last year and beat them indoors,” Scott said. “They’re definitely a top-10 level team … I was definitely happy with how I played, I stuck to my plan and kept going for it.”

But the Trojans pulled away, as No. 17 Brandon Holt would pull away from Texas’ fourth-ranked Christian Sigsgaard in straight sets (6-4, 6-4) in No. 1 doubles, followed by Mor Bulis clinching the match for USC with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Chih Chi Huang, who was back in the singles lineup for the second consecutive match.

The loss for the Longhorns was their first at home, and second on the year, with the other being avenged earlier last week with a win against No. 1 Ohio State. USC would avenge their own earlier loss to Texas, a match that ended 4-0 and also ended USC’s run in the ITA Indoor Championships.

“There’s a lot to be positive about out-of-conference play, we went 17–2,” Scott said. “No one should get down on themselves … Our conference is tough every year, so we’re going to have to keep working.”

Texas wrapped up their non-conference schedule with the match on Sunday and now moves on to Big 12 play, with the first match being at home against No. 29 Texas Tech on Friday.

“To go 17–2 with this kind of schedule is pretty darn impressive,” Berque said. “We play (Texas Tech) on Friday (who) beat us last year in Lubbock, and I’m pretty sure our guys are going to be fired up and ready to make a run at the Big 12.”