Texas looks ahead to next season after NCAA Tournament loss to A&M

Clark Dalton

Sunday’s match renewed an old rivalry as the Longhorns welcomed the Aggies for the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

After a sweeping win over LIU Brooklyn on Saturday, Texas hoped the early momentum would carry over and result in a second consecutive Round of 16 appearance.

Texas A&M ignited an early spark by getting the lead in doubles play. Riley McQuaid and Lucia Quiterio defeated senior Katie Poluta and junior Petra Granic 6-3, while Tatiana Makarova and Jayci Goldsmith earned a 6-3 win over juniors Anna and Bianca Turati.

The Aggies’ confidence grew when Lucia Quiterio knocked off freshman Tijana Spasojevic in straight sets 6-3,6-3.

However, the Longhorns refused to give up as they continued to show the same resolve which has defined their spring.

Sophomore Fernanda Labraña lead the charge, putting Texas within a one-point difference. Labraña earned the victory in straight sets against Renee McBryde 6-4, 6-2.

“I was super pumped up,” Labraña said. “I thought we would come back.”

However, Texas A&M would inch closer to a victory when Makarova upset Granic, 6-2, 6-4.

Moments later, Katya Townsend delivered the game-clinching blow against Bianca. Townsend launched a forehand which secured a 6-3, 6-3 victory and marked the final stroke of the match.

“Today just wasn’t our day,” Anna Turati said. “I feel really sorry for the team because we always give our best. I’m sure we will come back stronger next semester. I can’t wait to compete again.”

Texas head coach Howard Joffe views this as an opportunity to invoke an extra incentive to come back with even more motivation heading into the fall.

“At this moment, it’s on me to get them going and motivated, and I will absolutely do that,” Joffe said. “We have three players in Bianca, Ann and Petra who have collectively only lost eight to 10 matches, so we will get them prepared.”

The trio of returning juniors will be complemented by other veterans such as Labraña as well as a new core of young talent that will fortify the lineup.

“We have a very good returning team — a lineup that won the Big 12 and carried us to a top-10 ranking” Joffe said. “Obviously, we have one or two fine players coming in, and I expect Texas to be at the top of college tennis again next year.”

Overall, it was another successful season for the Longhorns after winning a second consecutive Big 12 title and advancing at least one round in the NCAA Tournament for a fourth consecutive year. Though Texas’ postseason run fell short, this season was instrumental in helping the team grow even further, Labraña said.

“Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose,” Labraña said. “The important thing is that we are always learning, so we are going to learn from this and we are going to come back stronger.”