Texas men’s tennis takes down Oklahoma in 4-3 thriller

Ross Fisher

At match point, amid a chorus of “Boomer Sooner,” Texas sophomore Evin McDonald held his nerve to defeat Oklahoma sophomore Justin Schlageter, securing the victory at No. 5 singles and clinching an overall victory for the Longhorns over their bitter rivals. 

The No. 6-ranked Texas men’s tennis team got their third consecutive road win on Sunday, beating No. 28 Oklahoma 4-3 in Norman, Oklahoma, after getting past No. 26 Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on Friday. 

In five spring matches, the Longhorns have found themselves with their backs against the wall in contests tied 3-3. In all five matches, including 4-3 wins against No. 9 Florida and No. 1 USC, they have been able to pull out a win, relying on someone new each time. 

“This team is full of toughness, grit and resiliency, and they showed that again,” assistant coach Brandon Wagner said. “It has not been just one guy stepping up and coming through. We've had five different guys win a 3-3 match. That says a lot about the team, (and) that says a lot about our guys.” 

With key sophomore Siem Woldeab out with shin splints, Texas was forced to shuffle their usual doubles pairings. A lack of chemistry at No. 1 and No. 3, perhaps, led to Texas dropping those two matches and ceding the doubles point to Oklahoma. 

“It was one of those matches where you have some different teams playing doubles together,” Wagner said. “You(‘ve) got one of your best players out, so you(‘ve) got some vulnerability there. We just continue to believe and stay tough.”

Just as they had on Friday, Texas relied on players lower down in the singles lineup to pick up points. Texas victories at No. 2, 4, 5 and 6 singles were enough to overcome the doubles loss.

Standout freshman Micah Braswell took care of business yet again, besting Oklahoma sophomore Alex Martinez at No. 2 singles. Despite still adjusting to college tennis, Braswell’s win today brings his overall record at Texas to an astonishing 26-2. 

“He's winning every single match, so I mean obviously the confidence is really high,” Wagner said. “And even though he's winning these matches, there's still several areas of improvement.” 

After not featuring against Oklahoma State, junior Nevin Arimilli stepped into the No. 6 singles spot to deliver Texas a sound 6-2, 6-3 victory over Oklahoma senior Max Stewart. 

Junior Chih Chi Huang continued his recent hot streak, picking up a 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 win over Oklahoma freshman Nathan Han at No. 4. 

Texas will be relieved to come away from the weekend with a pair of wins, especially with the typically reliable sophomore Eliot Spizzirri dropping both of his singles matchups.

“Sometimes there are some bumps in the road and you take some losses, and then you end up committing a little bit more,” Wagner said. “So hopefully this one resonates a little bit more, and he can put it together next week.”

Spizzirri and the Longhorns will look to rest up after a physically and mentally taxing weekend before they return to action on the road to play Rice in Houston on Friday.