The No. 4 Longhorns started their season off strong but have struggled as of late. Texas’ last two opponents, No. 12 Stanford and No. 17 Pepperdine, proved to be forces, leaving the Longhorns with two consecutive losses — one at home and one on the road. Now, Texas is coming home with its focus on No. 16 Michigan.
Texas hasn’t had much luck against the Wolverines in the past. Over the past 13 years, Michigan has shown dominance, earning five wins to Texas’ two. In their most recent matchup, the Longhorns traveled to Ann Arbor last year and fell 6-1.
“Our schedule is littered with very, very strong teams. So it’s going to be another challenging match,” said head coach Howard Joffe on the tough competition. “All these matches are very good. It’s exciting because this is the stuff that’s gonna fuel our run towards the end of the season and let us improve.”
Despite the difference in rankings, Joffe doesn’t attribute rankings to team success. Instead, he believes it is more about how the team is performing.
“What matters is how the players are doing, are they improving and so on and so forth,” Joffe said. “And so I think, the ranking may go down a bit, it may go up a bit, but really where it’s at is, is the team fundamentally getting stronger and if they are, we’ll be there at the end.”
What may come to the Longhorns’ advantage this time around are the new competitors Michigan will be faced with from Texas, including on-the-rise freshman Adri Nagy, returning redshirt sophomore Marta Perez Mur and freshman Gabby Cusano.
No. 61 freshman Lexi Ryngler has proven to be a powerhouse for Texas but has been out due to injury in recent matches.
Returning to the competition are seniors No. 3 Anna and No. 26 Bianca Turati, sophomore Tijana Spasojevic and junior Fernanda Labraña, who lost in singles to Michigan across the board the last meet.
The No. 20 Turati twins had better success in doubles, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Wolverines, who clinched the doubles point in the end.
“We’re working really hard, and we need to keep getting stronger and fitter and get a lot of competitions in during the practices,” Anna Turati said. “We’re just going to go out there and try our best and just keep working hard with the team.”
Not only is a match against Michigan a good opportunity for Texas to turn around its losing streak, but it will also be the last match before Texas faces Big 12 Conference competitors this season.
Weather permitting, Texas will take on No. 16 Michigan at the Texas Tennis Center this Tuesday at 2 p.m. If the match is to be relocated, the Longhorns will host Michigan indoors at the Edgar O. and Melanie A. Weller Tennis Center.