Texas tennis headed into the season with two top dogs — seniors Christian Sigsgaard and Yuya Ito, both All-Americans and the No. 2 and No. 4 players in the country, respectively.
But true freshman Siem Woldeab has made his own case as a force to be reckoned with in his first month as a Longhorn.
Woldeab was named the National Player of the Month in September by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association this Tuesday.
“I’m happy that Siem was recognized for his outstanding start in college tennis,” Texas head coach Bruce Berque said. “He’s a very strong player with exceptional work ethic and character. He’s just beginning his college career, but we’re looking forward to helping him reach his potential over the next four years.”
In both the Gamecock Fall Invitational on Sept. 20 and the Southern Intercollegiate Championships on Sept. 27, Woldeab defeated three Top-40 singles opponents, three Top-30 doubles opponents and both the No. 4 ranked single and doubles opponents.
The Californian went on to claim doubles titles in both tournaments and the singles title in the Gamecock Invitational.
The No. 4 ranked singles opponent Woldeab beat to win his first singles title in his collegiate career? His teammate Ito, who he also paired with to win the doubles title in South Carolina at the same tournament.
At the Southern Intercollegiate Championships, Woldeab won the doubles title with Sigsgaard.
He credits both of the seniors for helping him with his fast start.
“It was great to be honored by the ITA, but I really think I share that honor with two great senior teammates I got to partner with in doubles in Yuya (Ito) and Christian (Sigsgaard),” Woldeab said. “They’re incredible players, and I’ve already learned a lot from them.”
The team traveled to Tulsa, Okla. for the ITA All-American Championships this week, but Woldeab fell in the qualifying round to Arizona State’s Tim Ruehl 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.
“As a freshman, you have to learn from your mistakes and not get down on yourself,” sophomore Chih Chi Huang said. “It’s about how you can get up from the downs as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, Sigsgaard and Ito have found early success at the All-American Championships. The No. 17 ranked duo beat No. 5 ranked Mukerl Dellien and Marius Frosa of Wichita State 6-1, 6-4 on Wednesday to advance into the round of 16.
On the singles side, while Sigsgaard fell in the round of 32 to No. 32 ranked Gui Osorio 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, Ito beat No. 25 Tim Sandkaulen in a hard-fought 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 victory to advance to the round of 16. He will play Baylor’s Matias Soto on Friday.
If Ito beats Soto to advance to the quarterfinals, he will qualify for the Oracle ITA Fall Championships in California Nov. 7-10.